Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent revelation that Manchester United could have signed Joe Hart for £100,000 is the latest in a line of near misses for some of the Premier League’s top clubs.
Steven Gerrard’s nearly-move to Chelsea; Eric Cantona on trial at Sheffield Wednesday and Matthew Le Tissier’s almost switch to Tottenham Hotspur are just three high-profile examples of how things in the world of football could have been different had paperwork been signed and deals been agreed.
And, more recently, an influx of similar scenarios could have potentially been played out at all of the big-boys in English football, as GMF investigates…
1. Joe Hart to Manchester United
"I could have bought Joe Hart for £100,000 so we all make mistakes," Ferguson told BBC Radio 5Live in a recent interview.
Instead, arch-rivals Manchester City signed the player from Shrewsbury Town for £600,000 in 2006, and Hart has gone on to become No.1 at both the Etihad Stadium and Wembley.
A mainstay in the England side, Hart proved his abilities initially on loan at Football League clubs, before taking the starting spot from Shay Given at the start of the 2010/11 season. He’s never looked back.
2. Christian Eriksen to Chelsea
"I went to Chelsea twice when I was 14 and 15. I was at Danish club Odense at the time and came across with a friend to Cobham," said the Ajax sensation last week.
How good things could have been for the Blues if they had signed the teenager, who joined the Ajax academy in 2008, five years ago.
The Denmark international playmaker is now one of the hottest properties in European football, and is linked with a move to Manchester United as the successor to Paul Scholes’ thrown at Old Trafford.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo to Arsenal
"I had Ronaldo at the training ground. I showed him around and I gave him a shirt. It had his name on the back. I wanted him to be here," admits Arsene Wenger.
Instead, the Sporting Lisbon starlet moved to Manchester United in 2003, and after watching Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ claim the title during his first season in English football, the balance of power swung back towards the Red Devils.
Whilst Chelsea also got in on the trophy act under Jose Mourinho, it’s United who enjoyed great success in the Ronaldo era, helping Sir Alex Ferguson to a second Champions League crown before leaving for Real Madrid in an £80 million move.
4. Charlie Adam to Tottenham Hotspur
"Daniel rang me late on and asked if I like Charlie Adam. I said 'yes, he's a fantastic footballer'. We pushed on and tried to do it, Daniel was confident he could get it through. It went to the wire but we missed out by minutes,” said Redknapp.
At the time, it appeared that Harry Redknapp had missed out on the former Rangers midfielder, who would make the move to Liverpool at the end of the season.
Adam stayed at Blackpool, but was unable to save the Tangerines from relegation in a season where the Scot rose to prominence in the Premier League.
Had Spurs secured the move, would Luka Modric have been sold for £40 million in the summer. We’ll never know, but not having Adam made the decision much easier – a blessing in disguise for Tottenham.
5. Kaka to Manchester City
“If you want my personal opinion they bottled it. He clearly was for sale but we never got to meet with the player, the behaviour of AC Milan got in the way,” said chief executive Garry Cook.
The £100 million move for Brazilian international Kaka was supposed to be a statement from the Citizens, but the Serie ‘A’ giants backed out of the move with suggestions that the player never wanted to go to the Etihad Stadium.
That the player was sold to Real Madrid the following summer suggests that Kaka didn’t want a Manchester move, and the Citizens were forced to wait for success – although Robinho was the first big-name arrival.
As for Kaka, has fitness has been called into question in the Spanish capital, and is struggling for first team football under Jose Mourinho. Potentially, another blessing in disguise.
6. David Silva to Liverpool
“It is true that we were asking about the situation with him [Silva] but we are not happy with the situation now and he will not be a target for us,” said Rafa Benitez in 2008.
The Spanish playmaker had risen to prominence after some impressive displays during that summer’s European Championships, and Benitez was ready to bring the player to Anfield.
But, after failing to secure his signature, the player spent two more years with Valencia before joining Manchester City in 2010.
He is the shining star amongst a team of brilliant players at the Etihad Stadium, and would have been a gem alongside Steven Gerrard in the Reds’ midfield.