Now that most European leagues have seen their winter transfer window come to an end, we’re left with our bi-annual dosage of transfer rumours that were pushed and pushed yet never came to fruition.
The influence of the media in purporting these possibilities is one not to be underestimated and the mere mention of a potential transfer can often see fans enter into hysteria.
For whatever reason, be it economical, sentimental or just downright logical, the following 10 moves are ones that didn’t come off but should have.
If there are any players left out of the running that you feel should have been included, please feel free to note them down in the comments section below.
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From: Real Madrid
A former Ballon d’Or winner and the third most expensive player of all time, Real Madrid were allegedly close to seeing Kaka move back to his former stomping grounds of the San Siro in mid-January.
However, as the Daily Mail report, the move never came about, supposedly due to the tax laws in Serie A that ultimately made such a switch financially impossible.
It was with AC Milan that Kaka shot to his most famous as well as most talented and it would have been glorious to see the Brazilian get at least a chance at returning to his most influential.
The 30-year-old continues to see more time on the bench than one might expect of the 2007 World Player of the Year and his frustration will only look likely to continue as he remains at the Santiago Bernabeu.
To: Juventus or LA Galaxy
With his Chelsea stature far from the honoured and respected state it was in but several years ago, this is a suggestion that certainly won’t go down well with many still loyal to their long-term servant.
However, with just five months remaining on his Blues’ contract and BBC Sport alleging that Chelsea are no closer to offering the midfielder a new deal, one would think Lampard can still be rescued from his West London limbo.
Although the 34-year-old continues to have some input on club matters (largely due to Africa Cup of Nations absences), it’s generally believed that the playmaker will be on his way out of the club this summer and for free no less.
Sky Sports have reported on LA Galaxy’s reported interest in bringing the Englishman to MLS as a marquee signing while Andrea Pirlo is said to be keen on Lampard's arrival at the Old Lady, according to the Independent.
Usually, when a young player, a teenager of all things, is farmed out to a fellow elite club, one would expect to see that youngster acquire perhaps a bit more experience than he would at his parent club, contributing well to his development.
However, Thibaut Courtois has taken the ball that is his 18-month loan spell with Atletico Madrid and most certainly run with it, shooting up in the estimations of the masses and establishing himself as a truly talented stopper.
Despite only being 20 years old, such performances have apparently caught the eye of possibly the strongest club in the world, Barcelona (via Metro) who were said to be willing to part with £10 million for the Chelsea starlet’s signature.
With Petr Cech still making the No.1 spot his own at Stamford Bridge, the Blues definitely have reserves between the sticks and can be understood for not wanting to sell the Belgian ‘keeper, but what a story it would have been for one so young.
To: Inter Milan
A player looked upon as one of several Colombian prodigies, Juan Fernando Quintero has earned rave reviews over the last 12 months or so, courting the interest of many a European outfit.
Speaking to Gazzeta dello Sport (h/t Sky Sports) in January, the 20-year-old stated:
United? No, I like Inter. I prefer the Nerazzurri because they have a lot of South Americans at the club. And I'm happy in Italy.
Saying that, it is clear that I would not turn down other strong teams because I'm ambitious: Manchester, Milan, Juventus...
Quintero is currently looked upon as one of Serie A’s brightest emerging talents and one could envision the playmaker as one of those accounting for the Nerazurri’s eventual rise back to Italian dominance.
Ultimately the club went and signed Mateo Kovacic, an even younger playmaker, from Dinamo Zagreb, but only time will tell who would have been the better option.
From: West Ham
With a relatively humble release clause of just £3.5 million in his contract (via Independent) and a bucket-load of encouraging displays in his locker from the first half of the season, one can imagine there was a bit of competition for Mohamed Diame’s signature in the winter months.
The Senegalese enforcer has been a big part of any success that West Ham have had during the current campaign and his modest fee only makes any deal all the more valuable to whomever might acquire the player.
Since the departure of Alex Song, Arsenal are yet to really replace the tough-tackling midfielder’s presence as well as offer the same urgency going forward at times.
Diame would have fitted that mould and for a pittance at that.
To: Atletico Madrid
While it may be a topic of great humour to some, the descent of Fernando Torres is sometimes a Greek tragedy of Spanish proportions and it’s hard to watch someone once pegged as one of the best strikers in the world slump as we’ve seen in the last two years.
It was at Atletico Madrid that the Spain international first put himself on the map and the Daily Mail reported in January that the La Liga outfit were keen on re-signing their former starlet.
However, the rumours never really gained much momentum and the financial side of the move would undoubtedly have been going against the Madrid side, although it would have been poetic to see Torres return to his best with the club where it all began.
From: Tottenham Hotspur
To: Real Madrid
In recent years, the amount of elite British players being exported around the world has slumped, a move seemingly reserved for pension packages and post-career payoffs.
In truth, the Premier League is going through somewhat of a slump in terms of quality and it’s leagues such as the Primera Division, Bundesliga, Eredivisie and others that are courting an increasing amount of respect.
Although Spurs fans will hate to hear it, Gareth Bale’s rumoured move to Real Madrid (via Daily Mail) would be great for world football, if perhaps slightly damaging to Tottenham’s chances of success in the near future.
Just as South America, Spain, France and other nations are all exploited by the cash-rich English top flight for their prodigious talents, it’s time that Britain once again started sharing its players with the world, of which Gareth Bale ranks up there with the best.
From: FC Twente
A move that was supposedly inches from completion but collapsed over a medical issue (via BBC Sport), Leroy Fer’s arrival upon Merseyside would have been a huge coup for Everton.
The Toffees are just about as famous for their stringent spending habits as they are anything else and an £8.6 million move for one of Holland’s most promising youngsters would have been a huge signal of their intentions to evolve as a club.
From: Manchester United
To: Reading (Loan)
Currently plying his trade as somewhat of a fourth string striker at Old Trafford, one could debate that the arrival of Robin van Persie has ultimately stunted the growth of Danny Welbeck, albeit for the reward of Premier League success.
The 2011-12 campaign was Welbeck’s most encouraging yet as part of the Manchester United squad but having another one of Europe’s best strikers at the club has made things expectedly difficult for the English youngster.
Although he’s still fighting for a spot at the Theatre of Dreams, Welbeck could ultimately benefit well from a loan move away from the club having seen great success on a temporary spell with Sunderland two years ago.
The Times suggested in January that a loan move to the Madejski Stadium was on the cards, a move that would have benefitted both parties involved, giving Welbeck increased playing time and Brian McDermott a potentially destructive option up front.
From: West Brom
More included out of sympathy than anything, I, personally, wish Peter Odemwingie had joined QPR just so that nobody would have to go through the embarrassment he must be going through in his career right now.
Back at the Hawthorns after awkwardly travelling to Loftus Road only to be told no transfer had been sanctioned by the clubs, it’s up for debate just how much influence the 31-year-old will be having as a Baggie in future.
West Brom “teammate” Steven Reid was recently reported by the Mirror as saying that the squad will only welcome their striker back if the club ask them to.
It recently came out that interim Chelsea boss, Rafael Benitez, has never actually met Florent Malouda despite being at the club for several months now (via Daily Mail), further displaying the French midfielder's absolute waste of talent at Stamford Bridge.
While he may not be the wide talent he was upon arrival in west London, the £100,000-a-week player is whittling down the final months of his contract but should have already taken a pay cut just so that he can play some football.
Now at Galatasaray, Wesley Sneijder's departure from Inter Milan is one of the strangest transfer sagas to unwind in recent history.
The Dutchman still has the potential to play for any side in Europe when at his best and while it's not to belittle his Turkish switch, a move to Liverpool (via Daily Mail) may have benefitted Sneijder's career in the long run more, although that itself is up for discussion.
With his days at Roma looking somewhat numbered, a 'keeper once looked upon as one of Europe's finest could have made his way to West London in the dying hours of the January window.
However, Maarten Stekelenburg revealed that a loan switch to Fulham didn't come about when the Rome outfit were unable to find a replacement (via Independent).