Another transfer window is fast approaching and so with it comes possibly the most entertaining part of the whole process, depending on your viewpoint: the transfer saga.
The recipe of a transfer saga involves a few vital ingredients. A world class player has to be linked to a major European football powerhouse. The rumour turns out to be true and said club is really interested in buying said player. Rumours about offers being made and rejected surface.
Agents then become involved to hype up the player and his ambition to further his career. More offers and counter offers are made. Maybe the player makes his feelings known via an obscure foreign radio station. The media gets wind of the interview and rumours reach fever pitch. Player denies giving interview or says they were misquoted or misinterpreted.
On the last day of the transfer window the clubs agree a fee. The player races for his medical and to sign. Or indeed not sign because the player was convinced to stay for one more season or never actually wanted to leave in the first place.
Here is a selection of the best transfer sagas in recent memory:
Steven Gerrard to Chelsea
The England and Liverpool captain has played for the Merseyside giants since the age of nine and has won pretty much everything there is to win in football, bar rather infamously the Premier League.
However he was also involved in one of English footballs longest running transfer sagas.
In 2004 after another disappointing campaign for his beloved Reds Gerrard admitted to he was not "happy with the progress Liverpool has made", and that "for the first time in my career I've thought about the possibility of moving on."
Gerrard was heavily linked with Chelsea that summer but was convinced to stay by new Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, turning down a £20million deal in the process.
Gerrard led Liverpool to the Champions League title in 2005 and told reporters after the match he would be staying with the Anfield club famously saying, “How can I think of leaving Liverpool after a night like this?”
However after the emotion of such an unbelievable match had subsided, and after contract talks between Gerrard and the Club had collapsed, it seemed the inspirational captain was set to leave.
Chelsea offered £30million for the unsettled star and Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry said, "Now we have to move on. We have done our best, but he has made it clear he wants to go and I think it looks pretty final."
But this saga had another twist and 24 hours later Gerrard rejected the chance to move to Premier League Champions Chelsea and signed a new contract with Liverpool.
Thierry Henry to Barcelona
The 2005-06 season was rife withspeculation that Henry would end his incredible spell at Highbury and leave Arsenal. Henry was rumoured to be frustrated at Arsenal’s failure to win the Premier League title for two consecutive seasons after going unbeaten in the 2003-04 season.
However Arsenal did progress to their first ever Champions League final in 2006 and it was surely fate that the Gunners would play Barcelona, Henry’s rumoured destination.
Arsenal would lose the final 2-1 after Jens Lehmann was sent off 18 minutes into the match, despite taking the lead with a Sol Campbell header, the Gunners couldn’t hold on and goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti gave Barcelona the win.
A crumb of comfort for Arsenal fans came after Henry seemed to take offence with Barcelona’s rough house tactics in dealing with him, criticising Barcelona defenders saying, “In the first half Rafael Marquez and Carles Puyol went right through me and they didn't even get a yellow. Then I got the ball in front of the bench and Mark Van Bommel kicks me and I end up getting a yellow."
Henry proved his loyalty to Arsene Wenger’s side by signing a new four year contract with the club and seemingly ruling out any transfer to Barca in the future saying, “I've never played in Spain and never will. This is my last contract.”
However 12 months into his new Arsenal contract Henry was again linked with the Catalan giants. On 25 June 2007 Henry was transferred to Barcelona for €24million signing a four year contract. On leaving Arsenal Henry said, "I always said that if I ever left Arsenal it would be to play for Barcelona."
Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid
In summer 2008 Cristiano Ronaldo had scored 31 Premier League goals and helped Manchester United to win the Champions League title beating Chelsea in a dramatic final. This didn’t stop Ronaldo admitting his desire to play for Real Madrid during an interview with Brazilian website Terra, "I want to play for Real Madrid, but only if it is true they are eager to pay me and Manchester United what they have been saying they will."
Man Utd were unimpressed with Madrid’s behaviour in discussing a transfer with Ronaldo without their permission and resolved not to sell the 2008 Ballon D’or winner, as well as reporting Real to Fifa for an illegal approach.
No action was taken by Fifa and speculation continued until 6 August when Ronaldo committed to United for “at least one more year.”
Another Premier League title followed for Ronaldo and Man United during 2008-09 but it always seemed likely that Ronaldo would exit United.
And so it proved as on 11 June 2009 Real Madrid made a then world record offer of £80million for Ronaldo which the Red Devils accepted after Ronaldo reiterated his desire to join Los Blancos.
Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted in his autobiography that he had made a deal with Ronaldo to stay at United for one more season in 2008. The United manager told the Portuguese winger, “I know you want to go to Real Madrid. But I'd rather shoot you than sell you to that guy (Real President Ramon Calderon) now. If you perform, don't mess us about, and someone comes and offers a world record fee, then we will let you go.”
Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona
Cesc Fabregas arrived at Arsenal as a 16 year old, signed from Barcelona’s famed youth academy La Masia where he trained alongside the young Lionel Messi. Fabregas would go on to become an arsenal legend and captain in an eight year stay in North London.
As Fabregas’ stature in the game began to grow so did the number of suitors the brilliant Spaniard developed; amongst the clubs interested in Fabregas were his old club Barcelona. The first interest in Fabregas from Barcelona was registered in 2009 and started a two year pursuit for the midfielder.
In summer 2010 Arsenal rejected a £38million offer for Cesc from the Catalan club with the Gunners rumoured to want closer to £80million for their captain. It was clear that Fabregas had his heart set on a return to his boyhood club and Arsenal seemed resigned to losing him should an acceptable offer be tabled. Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood contributed to speculation saying,”Fabregas might stay, he might go. I have no idea.”
Fabregas stayed at Arsenal for the 2010-11 season as no deal could be reached between Arsenal and Barcelona. During the season rumours would persist of the playmaker's return to Barcelona and on 15 August 2011 Arsenal agreed a £35million deal to return Fabregas to Camp Nou ending the longest running transfer saga of recent times.
Luis Suarez to Arsenal
On 31 May 2013 Liverpool striker Luis Sarez announced his intention to leave Anfield citing media intrusion into his family life as his main reason for seeking a transfer. What would follow was the most dramatic and intriguing transfer sagas of recent time.
Initial rumoured interest from Real Madrid and Juventus failed to materialise in concrete offers for the Uruguay international.
Arsenal, saw an opportunity to add one of the world’s best players to their squad and weaken an expected rival for a top four spot during the forthcoming season, lodged a sensational and unusual offer of £40million plus one single pound.
Arsenal believed this offer triggered a clause in Suarez contract which would allow him to leave Liverpool for a champions league club if they offered £40million plus. Liverpool rejected the offer and denied Suarez’ contract had such a provision in it. Liverpool Principal Owner John W Henry famously tweeting, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” in response to Arsenal’s bid.
This led to Suarez changing his reason for wanting to leave Liverpool. The Reds striker now claimed he was promised by the club the previous year that he could leave should they fail to qualify for the Champions League, which they did finishing a lowly 7th.
"Last year I had the opportunity to move to a big European club and I stayed on the understanding that if we failed to qualify for the Champions League the following season I'd be allowed to go," Suarez said. "I gave absolutely everything last season but it was not enough to give us a top-four finish – now all I want is for Liverpool to honour our agreement." The striker also said he would consider handing in a transfer request in order to force through a move.
However Liverpool refused to budge and manager Brendan Rodgers instructed Suarez to train away from the first team saying Suarez had shown "total disrespect" for the club.
On 14 August Suarez announced a sensational U-turn in his position saying that he wished to stay with the club and would possibly sign a contract extension with Liverpool, citing the love and support of the Liverpool fans as his reason for his change of heart.
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