Football is full of what ifs. What if Suarez had not handled Ghana’s shot on the line in the 2010 World Cup? What if England hadn’t conceded the ‘Hand of God’ goal? What if Gerrard hadn’t slipped?
Here we look at a few transfer ‘what ifs?’ and consider just what could have been.
Cantona – Sheffield Wednesday
Eric Cantona was offered a trial at Sheffield Wednesday after he received a long suspension in France for throwing the ball at the referee. Unfortunately, the poor British weather meant it was difficult for Cantona to showcase his abilities. Then Owls manager, Trevor Francis, asked him to come back later in the week and wait for the weather to improve. Cantona took offence at this and instead, went and signed for leeds. Of course, afterwards, he signed for Manchester United and the rest is history.
Paul Gascoigne – Manchester United
One of England’s greatest, and craziest, ever players, Gazza is known for his time at Tottenham. However, he was once incredibly close to joining Manchester United. After impressing at Newcastle United, Gazza was approached by Man Utd. He spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson and a verbal agreement was made. Fergie went off on holiday and that was that. Until… Tottenham swooped in and offered to buy Paul a house for his mum and dad with a garage and a sunbed for his sister. This was enough to persuade Gazza who then made the switch to Tottenham instead of United. One can only imagine how blue the air was when Sir Alex found out.
Zidane – Blackburn Rovers
‘Why do you want Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?’. A question that’s surely only ever been said once. That was the response Blackburn Rovers owner gave to the manager in 1995.
Just a few years later and Zidane was Balon d’Or and World Cup winner. Whoops!
Ronaldo – Arsenal/Liverpool
Cristiano Ronaldo admitted he ‘fell in love’ with Arsenal when he visited The Gunners whilst playing for Sporting Lisbon. He also claimed that Liverpool were ‘One of the best clubs in England’ and and offer was made for him from Liverpool.
However, no agreement could be reached between Sporting or Arsenal/Liverpool. Manchester United swooped in and snapped him up for £12.5m and the rest is history.
Lewandowski – Blackburn
Probably one of my favourites but also one of the most unfair stories of transfer ‘what ifs?’.
Lech Poznan had accepted Blackburn’s bid and Lewandowski was due to fly to England to finalise everything. However, mother nature had other ideas. The eruption of Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, and the subsequent flight ban due to the ash cloud meant Lewandowski couldn’t make it to England. He then went on to sign for Dortmund and has been banging goals in in the Bundesliga ever since with Bayern Munich.
Who knows if these players would have developed into the players they became if these transfers had gone through.
One thing is for certain, football can be a cruel game.