The landscape of football is often defined by single events, ones that go on to paint the picture for the next decade. A club can be bought, like Manchester City, and suddenly become a force domestically and beyond.

Sometimes, though, clubs miss opportunities to become global powerhouses by making simple mistakes. These five missed transfer opportunities highlight how close some of the less glamorous clubs came to signing the the biggest names in football.

5. Zinedine Zidane | Newcastle United & Blackburn Rovers

Adjusted for inflation, the Frenchman's transfer from Juventus to Real Madrid was the second most expensive in history, only eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo. Former Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish was reportedly interested in signing Zidane back in 1995, but club chairman Jack Walker seemed non-plussed about the France international. "Why sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?", Walker asked. 

To make matters worse, a year later, Newcastle rejected him when he was offered to the Tyneside club for £1.2 million by Bordeaux in 1996, stating their belief that Zidane was not good enough for the First Division. How wrong they were.

4. Michel Platini | Metz

His boyhood club Metz trialled him twice and missed out on both occasions. Firstly, the manager overseeing his trial left, and in the second instance he collapsed while taking a breath test. The doctor advised the club not to sign him on medical grounds, but he went on to be voted the 4th greatest player of the 20th century, behind only Pele, Maradona and Franz Beckenbauer.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo | Liverpool & Arsenal

As CR7 was making a name for himself at Sporting Lisbon, both Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier expressed an interest in signing him, but they were beaten to it by Manchester United who made a profit of almost £70 million when they sold Ronaldo to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

2. Diego Maradona | Sheffield United

Whilst the living legend who would go on to become one of the best players in history was still playing for Boca Juniors in Argentina, Sheffield United managed to negotiate a £600,000 deal for him, only to realise they didn't quite have the funds for the player that would go down as the joint-greatest of the 20th century, voted level with Pele. Oops.

1. Lionel Messi | River Plate

When the greatest player in the world was still playing for Newell's Old Boys, arriving the year after Maradona left, Messi was turned down by River Plate because they weren't willing to cover the costs of his $900 a month hormone deficiency treatment. Messi didn't sign for Anzhi Makhachkala, despite an offer of £205 million to Barcelona.


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