10 Biggest Transfer Regrets

It’s a horrible feeling when you miss out on a bargain, but for these football clubs, the feeling must be sickening…


#10 James Rodriguez to Manchester United


Colombia World Cup star James Rodriguez was offered to Manchester United as a teenager for £5m, but United’s South American scouts were not convinced by the talented midfielder. United instead opted to sign Bebe for £7.5m, who Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted to having not seen play. Rodriguez instead moved to Porto for £4m before a big money move to Monaco last summer. Spain looks to be his next destination in a deal which would see the player worth €60m.


#9 Gareth Bale to Birmingham City


It seems implausible now, but world record signing Gareth Bale once came close to joining Championship side Birmingham City for just £3m in January 2010. Bale had initially struggled at Tottenham, and the blues offered him the chance to move away for more first team football. However, an injury to Spurs left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto gave Bale his opportunity in the first team, and the rest is history.


#8 Robert Lewandowski to Blackburn Rovers

Robert Lewandowski

A volcanic ash cloud was all that got in the way of Robert Lewandowski joining Blackburn Rovers in 2010. Blackburn had agreed a £4m deal with Polish side Lech Poznan for the striker, but the ash cloud had resulted in all flights in and out of the UK being cancelled. Instead, Lewandowski signed for Borussia Dortmund, and will play for Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich next season. If I was Robert, I’d call it fate.


#7 Cristiano Ronaldo to Arsenal


It was in fact Arsenal not Manchester United who were set to sign Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003. Ahead of a £4m move, Ronaldo had impressed on trial at Arsenal, with Wenger taking the youngster on a tour of the facilities before presenting him with his name on the back of an Arsenal shirt. Money talks however, and after United offered Sporting Lisbon 3 times more than Arsenal, as well as Carlos Queiroz talking his compatriot into joining United instead, the future world superstar ended up at Old Trafford.


#6 Ronaldinho to St Mirren


Yes, you read that right. In early 2001 a deal had already been put in place for PSG to sign Ronaldinho from Gremio that summer. However, Ronaldinho was keen to acclimatise to Northern European conditions and a loan deal to SPL strugglers St Mirren was put in to place. However, the deal broke down due to a fake passport scandal leading to an investigation by the Brazilian FA. St Mirren were subsequently relegated with a goal difference of -40. How things could have been different!


#5 Dennis Bergkamp to Tottenham Hotspur


In 1995, Tottenham were keen to sign Dennis Bergkamp as a replacement for striker Jurgen Klinsmann, who was trying to force a move away from White Hart Lane. However, then chairman Alan Sugar did not want to sign another foreign player after the way Klinsmann had acted, and instead opted to sign Chris Armstrong for £4.5m from Crystal Palace. Bergkamp moved to rivals Arsenal instead for £7m and would go on to gain legendary status at the Gunners during his 12 years there.


#4 Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Arsenal

zlatan ibrahimovic fotboll

During events similar to Cristiano Ronaldo’s proposed move, Arsene Wenger gave a 16 year old Zlatan Ibrahimovic a tour around Arsenal’s facilities in 2000 before presenting the Swede with his name and the number 9 on the back of an Arsenal shirt. Wenger later missed the chance to secure Ibrahimovic’s services when he upset the striker by asking him to have a trial at the club. ‘Zlatan doesn’t do auditions’ was the response, and he moved to Ajax for £5.5m instead.


#3 Radamel Falcao to Aston Villa


In January 2008, Aston Villa opened talks with River Plate over the £5m transfer of highly regarded striker Radamel Falcao. However, then manager Martin O’Neill hadn’t seen enough of Falcao to be convinced the signing would work, and instead opted to bring in Emile Heskey. After successful spells with Porto and Athletico Madrid, Falcao moved to Monaco last summer in a deal worth €60m. Oh Martin…


#2 Diego Maradona to Sheffield United


In 1978 Sheffield United manager Harry Haslam went on a scouting trip to Argentina, where he was wowed and impressed by a 17 year old Diego Maradona. The blades were in the 2nd Division at the time, and Haslam saw Maradona as the man to help them get back into the top tier of English football. £200 000 was the fee required, but United passed on the offer, opting to sign another Argentine Alex Sabella for £40 000 less. The two Argentines went on to have contrasting careers.


#1 Zinedine Zidane to Blackburn Rovers


‘Why do you want to sign Zinedine Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?’ is the famous quote from then Blackburn Chairman Jack Walker. After winning the Premier League the previous season, manager Kenny Dalglish had hoped to bolster his squad with the addition of 22 year old Zidane. Walker rejected Dalglish’s request. Zidane went on to have a successful career winning the Champions League and the World Cup, whereas Blackburn have never been near the top since.

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