Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top 10 Transfers That Never Were

Some stories are just too good to be true as we rank 10 of the greatest moves which failed to happen. Oh, what might have been...



10) Frank Worthington: Huddersfield Town - Liverpool (1972)

Worthington followed in the footsteps of George Best by combining peerless footwork on the pitch with an equally voracious appetite for all the good things in life off it. He was all set to sign for top dogs Liverpool in 1972 but failed a medical due to high blood pressure, mainly as a result of to his legendary prowess in the bed hopping stakes. Manager Bill Shankly remained keen on the player and told him to take a rest and come back for another medical afterwards. True to form Worthington went on holiday and partied hard for a few weeks. He came back and failed the medical again. The move fell through with Worthington quipping: "I just saw it as their bad luck." Still, he did score this beauty some years later.

9) Ronaldinho: Paris Saint Germain - Real Madrid (2003)


Ronnie nearly signed for Scottish minnows St. Mirren in 2001 to get used to European football before a fake passport scandal intervened. Two years later he was close to joining Manchester United until he eventually plumped for Barcelona. The Brazilian was considered to be too 'ugly' for Real Madrid's Galacticos, who signed David Beckham instead. Ronaldinho won everything in sight with the Catalans, even earning a standing ovation from the Bernabeu after a virtuoso display in 2005.


8) Preben Elkjaer: Lokeren - Arsenal (1984)

A star of Denmark's 1986 World Cup side, Elkjaer was being lined up for a switch to England two years earlier. The Gunners hesitated and took a punt on the more industrial Paul Mariner, who was already 31 and the former Ipswich player did precious little in his time at Highbury. Elkjaer meanwhile moved to Serie A and played a huge part in Verona's unlikely Scudetto triumph in 1984-85.

7) Luis Figo: Sporting Lisbon - Parma/Juventus (1995)


At the age of 22 Figo was all set to make his move from Portugal to the top league of the 90s - Serie A. He made the mistake of signing deals with both Juventus and Parma, who were both chasing his signature, and it didn't go down well with the authorities. Figo was slapped with a two-year ban on moving to Serie A so he had to switch to Barcelona instead. The Portuguese maestro would move to the peninsula a decade later with Inter after succeeding with Barca and Real Madrid.


6) Johan Cruyff: Ajax - Dumbarton (1982)


Along with Ronaldinho's crazy transfer to St.Mirren, Cruyff was another legend who almost ended up in Scotland. The Dutch master was wooed  in the early 80s, when he was in the midst of a contract dispute with Ajax, by the plucky second division outfit. Sadly for headline writers the transfer didn't happen, ensuring 'Cruyff's Dumb Move' never made the front page.

5) Alan Shearer: Southampton - Manchester United (1992 & 1996)


Premier League history could have been very different had Shearer signed for the Red Devils instead of Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 1992. United would never have needed to buy Eric Cantona and Shearer would have added more than his solitary Premier League medal to his mantelpiece. Turned down Alex Ferguson again in 1996 when he made the record switch from Rovers to boyhood club Newcastle United.

4) Cristiano Ronaldo: Sporting Lisbon - Juventus (2003)


This nugget only recently came to light when it was revealed Luciano Moggi had done a deal to take the teenage Ronaldo to Turin in 2003. Sadly for Bianconeri fans the move failed as Marcelo Salas refused to move the other way as the Chilean baulked at transferring to Portugal. Manchester United stepped in and the rest is history.


3) Diego Maradona: Argentinos Juniors - Sheffield United (1978)


A move which has since entered legend thanks to brazen Blades coach Harry Haslam. According to who you believe, and there are many who have waded their two cents on this, a young Maradona was lined up for the move to Sheffield for the mighty sum of £600,000, which was an absolute fortune in 1978. Perhaps predictably the move never happened as the money couldn't be found and the Blades shelled out £160,000 instead for fellow Argentine Alex Sabella.

2)  Pele: Santos - Real Madrid/Juventus (1960s)


Unlike his rival for the title of greatest player in history, Diego Maradona, Pele never played club football in Europe. He came close twice to making the switch as Real Madrid and Juventus hovered when he was in his prime during the 60s. The great man himself revealed last year that he almost made Turin his home.

"Real Madrid wanted me, along with Manchester United and Juventus," he told Eurocalcio.

"In fact, the Juventus president almost reached a deal with Santos which included support from Fiat. I thought about coming to Europe a lot, but I preferred to stay with the team in my heart, Santos."

Brazil's then government intervened, ensuring their 'national treasure' would never be able to kick a ball outside his country for a club until he joined the New York Cosmos in 1975 aged 35.

1) Alfredo di Stefano: Millionarios - Barcelona (1953)


If you're looking for another major reason for the bitter enmity that exists between Real Madrid and Barcelona, consider the events of 1953 when di Stefano made the move to Spain. Barcelona agreed a deal with the player's former club River Plate as Colombian outfit Millionarios weren't recognised by FIFA. The Colombian side declined to accept but di Stefano walked out and joined the Catalans, even playing in a few friendly games.

Things then got really complicated as the Spanish League announced that both Millionarios and River Plate had to agree to the move before it could be sanctioned. There was also a row over unpaid debts between the player and his former club in Colombia. Real Madrid waded in, giving Millionarios 1.5m pesetas while Barca gave 4m to River Plate, at which point the Spanish league decided to ban foreign imports altogether.

With the league season approaching the authorities relented and issued a bizarre proposal. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid could have the player and would have to share di Stefano on a season by season basis. Barca had had enough of the nonsense and settled for the 4m pesetas Los Blancos had given River Plate in exchange for the player.

Two weeks into the season di Stefano made his El Clasico debut for Real against the reigning league champions. He bagged four in a 5-0 thumping as Madrid cantered to the league title. Di Stefano would play a key role in Real's five successive European Cup wins. Barcelona would have to wait until 1992 to land their first crown. It remains a hot topic in Catalunya...

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