Beckham to Barcelona and 7 Big Transfers That Never Materialized

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2013

Beckham to Barcelona and 7 Big Transfers That Never Materialized

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    When Mick Jagger sang 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' he probably wasn't referring to the plight of professional football clubs. 

    Yet, in a summer when Arsenal missed out on Gonzalo Higuain, Chelsea failed to secure the services of Edinson Cavani and Real Madrid watched Neymar join their arch rivals, The Rolling Stones' famous refrain takes on a sporting poignancy.

    Sometimes, transfer deals that seem to be edging on certainty fall through, with players getting cold feet, rival clubs offering a little extra cash or extraneous circumstances getting in the way.

    Here's 10 high profile deals that were never completed, starting with David Beckham's Spanish sojourn…

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David Beckham to Barcelona

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    When Sir Alex Ferguson launched a boot in the direction of David Beckham's highly marketable face after a 2003 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, the megastar midfielder's days at Manchester United were numbered.

    Many suspected Beckham would continue his career in Spain, and it looked as if he would be heading to Barcelona when the Red Devils accepted a "conditional" offer of £25 million (via The Guardian).

    The "condition" was Joan Laporta's successful election to club president a few months later, continuing the Spanish tradition of presidential candidates basing their campaign on the promise of a megastar signing.

    Beckham, however, never intended to work out personal terms with the Blaugrana and told The Guardian he was disappointed with Laporta for using him as a "political pawn" in his election campaign. 

    A few weeks later, of course, he became a Galactico at Real Madrid.

Steven Gerrard to Chelsea

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    Even though he was an Everton fan growing up, Steven Gerrard has been on the books at Liverpool ever since he was nine years old. 

    In 2004, however, the Daily Mail reported that the Anfield hero had agreed terms on a £30 million move to Chelsea. Yet the move was allegedly "derailed" when "intolerable pressure" was placed on his family by angry Liverpool fans.

    The following summer, Gerard once again expressed his wish to leave Anfield, with the club confirming he had turned down a new contract after they had rejected a £32 million offer from the London side (via the BBC).

    The next day, Gerrard mysteriously had a change of heart, with the BBC reporting that he had accepted the £100,00-a-week contract he had snubbed 24 hours previously. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Arsenal

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played his way across some of the biggest teams in Europe, but has never graced the Premier League with his inestimable talents. 

    But when the Swede was a precocious 16-year-old at Malmö FF, he came very close to joining Arsenal. Ibrahimovic visited the London Colney training ground and was even pictured in a personalised Arsenal shirt.

    However, the relationship between Arsène Wenger and the talismanic striker broke down when the Frenchman had the audacity to request that he have a trial. 

    "No way, Zlatan doesn’t do auditions," he told The Sun when he later explained the awkward situation. Remember, Zlatan was only 16 at this point. 

    Instead, Ibra joined another club who were famous for nurturing young talent, becoming a double league title-winner at Ajax. 

Diego Maradona to Sheffield United

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    The most famous person to pull on a Sheffield Utd jersey might be Sean Bean in When Saturday Comes, but that could have been different if the Blades had pulled off a coup to sign Diego Maradona.

    According to the Daily Mail, manager Harry Haslam spotted a 17-year-old Maradona at Argentine Juniors in 1978, but couldn't afford the £200,000 asking price. 

    Instead, they invested £160,000 in River Plate's Alex Sabella, who managed eight goals in 76 appearances. They were relegated to the fourth tier in 1979.

Zinedine Zidane to Blackburn

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    In the summer of 1995, Blackburn were riding on a wave of success, with owner Jack Walker having bought them the Premier League title the previous season.

    Manager Kenny Dalglish had spotted the talents of a young man in Bordeaux named Zinedine Zidane, and approached Walker expressing his interest to sign him. In response, as per MSN Sport UK, the self-made millionaire is reported to have said: "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?"

    And that's how Blackburn missed out on one of the greatest players of all time.

    Incidentally, Rovers also had rotten luck in 2008 when they were set to sign Robert Lewandowski. The Pole's visit to the UK to sign a contract was thwarted by volcanic ash clouds, and he ended up at Lech Poznań instead. 

Robinho to Chelsea

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    Robinho's powers may have gradually faded as his European career has progressed, but the Brazilian was one of the most highly sought-after talents in the game in 2008. 

    On the final day of the 2008 summer window, the tricky forward was expected to seal a move to Chelsea, having emphasised his desire to move from Madrid to London in the days leading up to the deadline. 

    "It would be a dream for me to work with Luiz Felipe Scolari, who is one of the best coaches in the world," he told the BBC.

    However, Manchester City were formally bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group on deadline day, and as an immediate signal of intent, they stole Robinho from under the Blues' noses with a £32.5 million bid. 

    Even after the deal had gone through, a confused Robinho told journalists that he was happy to have signed for Chelsea, before correcting himself.

Alan Shearer to Manchester Utd

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    Blackburn fans may feel bitter about losing out on Zinedine Zidane, but the Karma Gods of Football dealt them a fair hand during their nineties heyday by delivering Alan Shearer.

    The striker caught Sir Alex Ferguson's attention in 1992, but he later explained in Four Four Two that the Manchester side failed to strike when the iron was hot:

    There was interest from Manchester United, but I was told I had to wait three or four weeks for them to get the money together. I felt if they really wanted me then they would come and get me immediately.

    Shearer opted to join Blackburn Rovers for a British transfer record £3.3 million instead, duly winning the Premier League with the Lancashire side and scoring 112 goals in 138 appearances.

    The BBC claim United showed interest in signing Shearer again in 1996, but the Geordie opted to join his hometown side Newcaste Utd for another British transfer record fee of £15 million.