Lionel Messi joins list of crazy football transfer sagas including Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar


It’s hard to see Lionel Messi’s current battle with Barcelona ending well.

When a club refuses to grant a player’s wish to leave, it very rarely does.

Messi and his lawyers are adamant that he has activated the clause in his contract that will allow him to leave on a free this summer.

Barcelona, however, protest that the deadline to activate the clause has passed and that the only way he will be leaving is if another club pays his €700 million release clause.

Things are already starting to get wild. It’s been suggested that Messi could miss the entire 2020/21 season and that Barcelona’s president could go to prison if Messi is sold.


What’s for certain is that this has already reached ‘transfer saga’ status.

There have been many over the years. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Paul Pogba have all been involved in dramatic moves, upsetting some people along the way.

Let’s take a look at 11 sagas that have taken place over the years.

Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid

"You don't think we'd get into a contract with that mob, do you? Jesus Christ. I wouldn't sell them a virus.”

Those were Sir Alex Ferguson’s words in December 2008 after becoming irritated with the continuous reports linking Ronaldo with Real Madrid.

It was reported that a “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached between the two clubs over Ronaldo’s transfer, but Fergie denied this at every occasion.

He even said moving to the Bernabeu would be “the worst possible thing” for Ronaldo’s career. But in June 2009, the winger signed a Real in a world-record £80m deal.


Antoine Griezmann - The Decision

What a mess this was.

Griezmann was heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer of 2018 but committed his future to Atletico Madrid in a video titled ‘The Decision’.

It was a 25-minute documentary in which the France international is seen talking to him family and explaining his thoughts about the whole thing.

One year later, following Atleti’s trophyless 2018/19 season, Griezmann joined Barcelona after they activated his €120m release clause.

How awkward.

Malcom to Barcelona

Malcom was set to join AS Roma in 2018. The Serie A club tweeted that they had an agreement with Bordeaux and Malcom was expected to fly to Rome to complete the deal.

However, he didn’t board his private chartered plane after Barcelona made a move at the 11th hour to snatch Malcom under AS Roma’s nose.

He ended up signing for Barcelona in a £45 million deal, leaving the Italian outfit furious.

“There's no question that we had a deal with Malcom, then Barca jumped into the mix unethically and immorally. They knew this was done,” AS Roma president James Parrotta said on American radio station Sirius XM.

Rooney wanted to leave Man Utd in 2010

In October 2010, Wayne Rooney publicly voiced his intentions to leave Old Trafford.

After talks with Man United’s Chief Executive David Gill, Rooney was adamant that he wanted out.

“He did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad,” a statement from Rooney read.


Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he was ‘dumbfounded’ by Rooney’s desire to depart.

But 48 hours, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer signed a new five-year deal following a shock U-turn.

“I said on Wednesday the manager’s a genius and it’s his belief and support that have convinced me to stay,” Rooney said, per Goal.

Wesley Sneijder to Man United

Barely a summer would go by during his playing days where Sneijder wasn’t linked with Man United.

It was relentless, to the point where it became an inside joke.

Sneijder has admitted that he was once “very close” to signing for the Old Trafford club, but a move never materialised.

Luis Suarez to Barcelona

Suarez was keen to leave Liverpool by the summer of 2013 in order to compete for the biggest trophies, with a move to Barcelona on his radar.

But Arsenal thought they could get the Uruguayan by just activating his £40 million release clause. They added an extra pound on top just to ensure the deal would go through.

It didn’t.

Liverpool then promised Suarez he would be allowed to leave if he gave the Reds one more good season, which he did, and he joined Barcelona for £75m in 2014.

Paul Pogba to Man United

This was perhaps the longest transfer deal in the history of transfer deals.

It took an absolute age for the deal to be agreed in the summer of 2016, so much so that some of the excitement had waned.

To make things even more frustrating, Man United’s slick announcement video featuring Stormzy was posted after midnight, meaning many people were asleep when it was released.

Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain

Realising that he would never be the star with Lionel Messi around, Neymar decided to quit Barcelona in 2017.

PSG activated his €222m release clause but their payment was rejected by La Liga due to FFP concerns.

A quarrel ensured and Gerard Pique was confident Neymar would be staying, taking to Twitter to insist ‘he stays’ in July.

But Neymar eventually joined PSG in early August, and we’ve come to trust Pique as one of the least reliable sources around.

Nabil Fekir to Liverpool

When Nabil Fekir was snapped giving an interview to Liverpool’s official television channel, it looked pretty clear that he was the Reds’ newest signing.

However, Liverpool pulled the plug on the deal at the last moment, with reports that Fekir had failed a medical.


The Frenchman, though, insists this wasn’t the case and that Liverpool simply used his previous knee injury as a reason not to sign him.

“I did my medical and then [Liverpool] decided not to sign me,” Fekir told L’Equipe.

“At some point they wanted to have me believe it was because of my knee – but an excuse needed to be found.”

John Obi Mikel to Man United to Chelsea

This was a strange one.

Man United had rushed through a deal to sign Mikel from Norwegian club Lyn in 2018, but they hadn’t informed his agents of the deal.

Chelsea then intervened, saying they had first dibs on the midfielder as they had helped with his initial move to Europe.

Mikel had been pictured in a Man United shirt but after months of twists, claims of kidnapping and a legal battle, he ended up signing for Chelsea.


Carlos Tevez to Man City

Tevez joined Man United’s rivals in 2009, with Man City welcoming him to the Etihad Stadium with that brilliant ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster.

The Argentinian forward had spent two seasons at Old Trafford and, while Ferguson wanted him to stay, the Man United boss suspected that Tevez had reached a deal with another club months before he eventually left United.


“I half-expected Carlos Tevez would be going a long time back," Ferguson said, per Goal. "I think he maybe did a deal around January because I spoke to him and gave him an offer on the night we played Inter Milan and he never came back to me.

"I phoned him on holiday and he never got back to me and I texted him twice and he never got back to me then either, so obviously he had made his mind up a long time ago.”

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