Leo Messi to Chelsea and 6 Other Wild Transfer Rumours
With a £210m buy-out clause, the adoration of Catalonia and free reign within one of the best club teams in the world, it seems unlikely that Lionel Messi would move away from Barcelona at this stage of his career.
However, according to Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo (translated by The Daily Mail's Pete Jenson) the Argentinean superstar nearly made a move to one of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Chelsea over the summer.
Messi's sponsor Adidas were keen to see him play in a shirt which they manufacture, and were reportedly willing to pay up to half of his buy-out clause for the privilege.
Such a move is not entirely out of the question—Madrid once pulled off the transfer of Luis Figo from Barca at an unlikely time—but it would have been extremely surprising.
Here are six other crazy transfer rumours that never came to pass...
Kaka to Manchester City
At the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Thaksin Shinawatra handed the keys to Manchester City to Sheikh Mansour. The new owners from Abu Dhabi immediately signalled their intent to compete at the highest level by bringing in Robinho on deadline day of the summer window.
During the winter window, an even more audacious bid was made for AC Milan's Brazilian superstar Kaka. The midfielder's spokesman confirmed that a world-record £100 million bid was made, with the Citizens intending to pay him a grotesque £500,000 per week.
Some sources, including The Sun, even claimed that the offer was raised to a staggering £175 million, but the Rossoneri still refused to budge.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Paris Saint-Germain
In September 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo declared to the world that he was "sad" at Real Madrid, sending panic through the Bernabeu as his contract renewal approached.
Plenty of speculation about his future followed, with many believing a return to Manchester Utd was in the cards, provided Wayne Rooney was sold to help fund the transfer fee (more on him later).
Oil-rich Ligue 1 chancers Paris Saint-Germain were among the top candidates for his signature, with many sources claiming the Portuguese star was offered a stupendous €60 million signing-on fee by the Parisians and their French rivals Monaco.
Even though Ronaldo has since signed a four-year deal keeping him in Madrid, rumours persist that he will move to France next summer.
Ronaldo to Rangers
After an unhappy season at Barcelona in 1996-97—albeit one where he scored a career-high 34 league goals—Ronaldo sought pastures new.
Glasgow Rangers were coming off their seventh consecutive Scottish title and decided that a bid for the world's best player was in order.
"Yes, it's true, I received an offer from Glasgow Rangers and we looked at it and decided that the best offer at that time was from Inter Milan," the man himself told the Scottish press a few months later.
Much like Messi's touted move, Ronaldo's deal with Rangers was organised by their kit sponsors. The Brazilian striker was a Nike athlete, and the American firm wished to ensure that their star players were playing for their teams.
Diego Maradona to Sheffield Utd
Before he dazzled the world at Barcelona and Napoli, Diego Maradona was apparently given the chance to join the second best club in Steel City: Sheffield Utd.
The Daily Mail claim that Blades 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 spent £160,000 on River Plate's Alex Sabella, who managed eight goals in 76 appearances. They were relegated to the fourth tier in 1979.
Hulk to Anzhi Makhachkala
After continually impressing at Porto, Brazilian winger Hulk became the subject of an incredible €87 million bid from Anzhi Makhachkala during the 2011 summer window.
According to goal.com, the Russian side agreed to the fee and a €10.5 million salary, but greed got the better of Porto when they asked for even more money. When the Portuguese Liga side requested that the initial bid to be raised to €90 million, Anzhi reportedly got cold feet and pulled out.
Porto made less than half of the fee offered in 2011 when they sold Hulk for €40 million to Zenit the following season.
Wayne Rooney to Paris Saint-Germain
No matter how many times Wayne Rooney requests to leave Manchester Utd, he never seems able to escape.
Many suspected the England striker would leave Old Trafford when David Moyes—his former manager who once sued him—took charge. Roo was thought to be a target of either Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain, with the latter offering a fairly stupendous £100 million, if the Metro is to be believed.