10. Maradona to Sheffield United, 1978
Back in 1978, Sheffield United manager Harry Haslam spotted the very talented 17 year-old during a scouting trip and immediately agreed to pay £200,000 for him. Unfortunately for the ‘Blades’ the deal fell through and Maradona went on to join Boca Juniors and then Barcelona on his journey to being named the joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century with Pele.
9. Zidane to Blackburn, 1995
This one is a tough one to take for Blackburn fans. After winning the Premier League title in 1995, Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish suggested to the club’s owner that they should sign young Bordeaux midfielder Zidane. Believe it or not, rumour has it that the chairman, Jack Walker, responded saying. “Why do you want to sign Zinedine Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?”, whoops.
8. Rivaldo to Bolton, 2004
The mighty Bolton Wanderers. Sam Allardyce’s Bolton side were a Premier League team that was going places. The club had coaxed the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo to join their overachieving squad. Rivaldo even said this at the time, “The club is good, the stadium is very nice and my challenge would be to take the club into Europe. If I reach an agreement with Bolton, I will live in Manchester.”
7. Ronaldinho to St Mirren, 2001
A match made in heaven. The legendary Brazilian was advised to get a short-term deal somewhere in Europe. Scottish ‘giants’ St Mirren thought they’d give it a go.
6. Essien to Burnley, 2000
The club discovered the Ghanaian talent and were impressed after a successful trial. The only hitch was that Burnley had a financial policy at the time of not paying their youth team players more than £60 a week. Essien went on to have success with Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan. £60 a week…
5. Iniesta to Rangers, 2004
The Scottish club wanted Iniesta when we was 18 and playing with Barca’s B team. After initial discussion talks broke down and the Catalan giants noticed the player’s potential and swiftly promoted him to the senior squad. 9 LaLiga titles, 6 Copa del Rey and 4 Champions league trophies later – it was a probably a good call.
4. Falcao to Aston Villa, 2008
Aston Villa were offered the chance to sign the Colombian forward for just under £10m from Atletico Madrid in 2008, however passed up the opportunity to sign prolific English goalscorer Emile Heskey. Wow
3. Lewandowski to Blackburn, 2010
Lewandowski was due to travel to Ewood Park for a medical with the Lancashire-based club, only for the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull to save Lewandowski career. The eruption grounded flights across Europe and the Polish striker instead joined Borussia Dortmund and developed into one of the world’s best strikers.
2. Bale to Birmingham, 2009
PFA player of the year, four-time Champions League winner and at one stage branded a flop at White Hart Lane. The club had agreed to sell Bale to Birmingham City for a mere £3m, however an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto gave Bale a final chance to impress – he did.
1. Neymar to Real Madrid, 2006
This transfer may still happen, however Real Madrid very nearly signed the Brazilian before he joined Barcelona. Neymar technically signed for ‘Los Blancos’ in 2006 after having a two week trial at the club aged just 14. Despite his obvious talent, then Real Madrid president Fernando Martín refused to pay the £60,000 that his agent was asking for.