Rivaldo – Bolton Wanderers
In April 2004 Rivaldo’s English Representative Peter Harrison stated the World Cup winner was close to agreeing a free transfer with Bolton, following an offer worth a million pounds per year in wages. The Bolton manager had convinced Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff to join the team in the past but in the end could not convince Rivaldo, with him eventually joined Olympiacos on the 22nd July 2004.
Robert Lewandowski – Blackburn Rovers
Sam Allardyce had a knack for convincing talented players during his time at Bolton Wanderers and while manager of Blackburn Rovers in 2010, he was believed to have a £4.2 million bid accepted by Lewandowski’s former club Lech Poznan.
All that was left to do was Lewandowski to fly to the North West to finalise the deal, but in a strange turn of events, an ash cloud eruption at Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, halted travel across Europe. While the eruption cost many Brits their holidays through delays, it also prevented Blackburn Rovers fans a player who at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, became one of the best strikers on the planet.
Andriy Shevchenko – West Ham
While manager of West Ham, Harry Redknapp and his assistant were approached by two Ukranian business men who were representing a young footballer called Andriy Schevchenko. They convinced them to let the youngster play in a friendly against Barnet and Schevschenko bagged the winner in a 2-1 victory. The men wanted a million pounds to sign him but at the time was considered too expensive by Harry Redknapp and his assistant. While at AC Milan in 2004 Schevchenko became the first Ukranian player to ever win the Ballon D’or and in the summer of 2006, he joined Chelsea for a fee in the region thirty six million pounds.
Lionel Messi - Rangers
While Rangers manager in 2004 Alex McLeish received some scouting advice from his own son. An avid player of Football Manager, his son explained that a Barcelona player was going to be the best in the world. His name, Lionel Messi.
While at the time McLeish dismissed his sons advice, he asked his assistant at the time Jan Wouters to contact Barcelona, as he was friends with the manager’s assistant Henk ten Cate. They had chats about bringing the youngster to Ibrox on loan, but towards the end of the 2004/05 season Messi had a great Youth World Cup tournament, and Barcelona changed their minds about loaning him. It meant the football world were prevented the chance to see if the Argentinian could work his magic on a cold Tuesday night in Glasgow.
Zlatan Ibrahimović – Arsenal
While Ibrahimović has been linked with the Gunners a few times during his career, it was in 2000 that he came closest to joining Arsenal. He was given the number 9 Arsenal shirt and even posed for photos in the shirt during his visit to Highbury. Zlatan went on to say later that Wenger did not make him an official offer. Wenger also received a classic response from an 18 year old Zlatan when he asked the Swede to take part in a trial to join the club. Zlatan stated:
‘’No way. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.’’
Steven Fletcher – Real Madrid
While playing for Hibernian in 2008 the Scot was linked to Real Madrid with rumours expecting a four million pound bid. At the time Real Madrid were trying to change their galácticos image, by focusing on European talent that would cost less money. The deal ultimately never happened and following spells at Hibernian, Burnley, Sunderland and Marseille, he joined Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer on 1st July 2016.
Ronaldinho – Manchester United
Following David Beckham’s move to Real Madrid, Ronaldinho was seen by Alex Ferguson as a direct replacement for the winger. The World Cup winner explained in an interview years later that he was only 48 hours away from being a United player, with a last minute offer from Barcelona halting the move. The Brazilian went on to score 70 goals in 145 appearances for the club and is widely regarded as one of their best ever players.
That concludes our list, if you know of any other crazy transfer stories be sure to leave them in the comments below.