Transfer windows have become an integral part of the club football calendar. That is where championship battles and relegation dogfights are decided, as teams plan a detailed strategy to ensure they land the players they target.As is to be expected, there is a lot of drama and intrigue associated with transfers, as clubs don’t want their opponents to know who their targets are. But over the course of time, the transfer window has also thrown some really funny incidents and here, we will take a look at some such hilarious stories:
#1 Zinedine Zidane being rejected by Blackburn
Would you believe me if I tell you that Blackburn Rovers turned down an offer to sign Zinedine Zidane because they had Tim Sherwood? Yes, you heard it right, that was the reason given by the late Jack Walker, then owner of Blackburn Rovers, for rejecting an offer to sign one of the greatest footballers ever.
He was linked with Newcastle as well, who turned him down because the club authorities believed he was not good enough to play the Premier League. At the time, Zidane was playing for Bordeaux, after which he moved to Juventus after one more season and the rest as they say, was history.
Just imagine what might have happened if one of either Blackburn or Newcastle had actually signed him.
#2 Diego Maradona could have joined Sheffield United
Could you even imagine that Sheffield United had the chance to sign Diego Maradona? Sheffield United’s coach spotted a 17-year-old Maradona on a scouting trip to Argentina and was so impressed that he struck a £200,000 deal there and then. But Maradona’s club, Argentinos Juniors asked for more cash, Sheffield United’s board refused and signed fellow Argentine Alejandro Sabella instead.
Sabella spent two years at Bramall Lane and went on to have a career that wasn’t particularly distinguished. He also coached Argentina to last summer’s World Cup final. Maradona was later signed by Barcelona after the 1982 World Cup for a world record fee of £5 million and then he inspired Argentina to win World Cup in 1986 and established himself as one of the greatest players ever to have graced the game of football.
#3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic refusing Arsenal
‘Zlatan does not do auditions.’ That is something Arsene Wenger should have known when he offered a 16-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic the chance to have a trial with Arsenal. Wenger wanted to see how good the Swede was, but the mercurial Ibrahimovic was in no mood for a trial and he turned it down. He later moved to Ajax.
However, very few could argue with his decision to turn the Gunners down as he has since gone on to win titles with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. To add to Arsene Wenger’s misery, he later missed out on talents like Lionel Messi, who they could not sign due to some difficulty in obtaining a work permit. Similarly, the Londoners could not sign Cristiano Ronaldo, who was offered a trial at the club, but Manchester United came in with a bigger bid, and the presence of Carlos Queiroz tilted his decision in their favour.
#4 Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano moving to West Ham
The pair were on the opposite side when Barcelona beat Juventus in this seasons’ Champions League final. But nine years ago, in what was one of the most bizarre transfers at the time, Tevez and Mascherano were signed by West Ham United from Corinthians. Even the players looked more than a little confused when they were unveiled.
In the end, the third party deal was ruled illegal and West Ham had to pay a £5.5 million fine and £20 million compensation to Sheffield United, who were relegated when Tevez’s goals kept West Ham in the league later that season. Carlos Tevez was loaned to Manchester United in the next season, where he won two League titles and a Champions League and Mascherano went to Liverpool on loan, before signing permanently with them.
#5 Willian signing for Chelsea after talking to Liverpool and Tottenham
Willian’s transfer story is like that of a child in a big toy store, not knowing which toy to choose. Like a child, he was spoilt for choice, as he had initial talks with Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, only to snub them as he moved on to Tottenham, who thought that Willian was about to sign for them in a £30 million deal after he completed a medical.
However, Spurs were left outraged when the deal was hijacked by Chelsea at the last moment as they signed him for £32 million in August 2013. Tottenham were really frustrated, and claimed that Chelsea signed the player to prevent Villas-Boas from a constructing a Spurs squad to challenge them.
#6 Emmanuel Petit signing for Arsenal after refusing Tottenham
Imagine you are supposed to sign a player and with the deal almost done, the player goes and meets the manager of your crosstown rivals and finally ends up signing for them. To add insult to injury, you had to pay the taxi fare for the player’s ride to the enemy’s territory!
That is exactly what Emmanuel Petit did in 1997 when he came to London to sign for Tottenham Hotspur, but after having a conversation with then Spurs’ Chairman Alan Sugar and manager Gerry Francis, he went to meet Arsene Wenger. That meeting prompted him to reject Spurs and sign for North London rivals Arsenal. And the funny part is that Spurs had to pay the taxi fare for his ride to meet Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup in 1998 and the World Cup as well with France.
#7 Robinho confusing Manchester City with Chelsea
The Brazilian signed for Manchester City on the transfer deadline day of 2008 from Real Madrid. Prior to the move, he was linked very heavily with a move to Chelsea, so much so that they had started printing Chelsea jerseys with Robinho’s name on it. Even the player himself wanted a move to Chelsea, but the move did not materialize and Manchester City ended up signing him for £33 million.
However, Robinho was so hungover with the Chelsea move that upon signing for Manchester City, he accidentally stated, “On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted.” In response to this a reporter replied, “You mean Manchester, right?” “Yeah, Manchester, sorry!” answered Robinho. He did decently, scoring 15 goals in 41 matches in his first season, but his second season was a major disappointment, as he scored just once in the 12 matches that he played and eventually he went out on loan to Santos and then secured a permanent move to AC Milan.