Transfer silly season never truly dies down, even outside of the summer and winter windows.
The rumour mill ticks over and over without fail every year. And while plenty of the speculation that appears dies off as quickly as it came around, and other rumours turn into completed deals, there’s always been a grey area between those two outcomes.
Yeah, you know the one. Transfer no man’s land. It’s a vicious cycle. One that often results in a player being linked to a certain club year after year, despite everyone knowing that with each passing season, the speculation becomes more and more unlikely. We still have to read the headline over and over, though.
Unfortunately, this one tends to affect ‘bigger’ clubs more often than not. Those at the top of the food chain who pull in the most attention online are typically used to write a story. And what better way to create some interest than by using a top club and a trending player, and sticking them both together? Long-term storytelling that the WWE would be proud of, except there often isn’t an outcome. Or much of a story to tell in the first place…
With that in mind, GIVEMESPORT has put together a starting XI of the most famed transfer rumours that dragged on for years, which never actually happened.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Real Madrid)
Okay, so this one would have gone through if it wasn’t for a slow fax machine. De Gea was closing in on his move to Real Madrid in 2015, following a solid three seasons of speculation linking him with the move at every point possible. It even dragged on for a short while after the move fell apart, too.
Right back – Kieran Trippier (Manchester United)
Warning: Manchester United feature in this list a lot. And that’s after trying desperately to make sure they don’t. In their never ending pursuit of fixing their right back position, Trippier was always touted as the man United would sign, going as far back as 2018. Given that he’s now returned to England with Newcastle, it probably won’t ever happen. He’ll still be linked, though.
Centre back – Sergio Ramos (Manchester United)
Another rumour that seemed to pop up every year without any particular reason or justification, Ramos to United was a done deal at least 700 times throughout the 2010s. The closest it came to actually happening was in 2015, when he apparently told Real Madrid he wished to leave for United. He signed a new deal with Los Blancos that summer, and still continued to be linked after that.
Centre back – Kalidou Koulibaly (Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona)
For a while, Napoli must have genuinely feared that losing their star man was becoming inevitable. As those rumours appeared in 2016/17, they continued to ramp up, with the top clubs supposedly queuing up. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re still queuing, rather aimlessly at this point.
Left back – Alex Sandro (Chelsea)
The transfer window wasn’t truly underway a few years ago until Chelsea were closing in on the signature of Juventus left back Alex Sandro. Thems the rules. Funnily enough, the Blues are still being linked with him as recently as 2022; a saga that has now been rumbling on for at least three years.
Right midfield – Julian Draxler (Arsenal)
After what feels like a lifetime of Arsenal being linked to freeing Draxler from the shackles of Paris Saint-Germain, the curse finally seems to have been broken. The German extended his contract with PSG in 2021, finally breaking the chain.
Centre midfield – Nico Gaitan (Manchester United)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Gaitan had already racked up 200 appearances at the Theatre of Dreams and was helping the construction workers with putting together his statue outside Old Trafford. Somewhere out there in a parallel universe, the Argentine did actually play for United once upon a time, and wasn’t mercilessly linked every summer for the best part of a decade.
Centre midfield – Wesley Sneijder (Manchester United)
Helping Gaitain and the construction workers erect his statue is Sneijder, whose own statue is sitting right next to the Argentine’s. There is a planet in the galaxy that has seen these two fix all of United’s post-Fergie problems and fire them to a 21st Premier League title, racking up mounds of goals and assists between them. At this point, we may as well call the Dutchman an honorary United legend.
Left midfield – Wilfried Zaha (Everton, Tottenham)
You’ve got to feel for Zaha. After it didn’t quite work out in Manchester, the winger headed back to Crystal Palace and, for a point in the 2010s, had the tools to become one of the most dangerous in the Premier League. Palace have been determined not to lose their man ever since getting him back, though, meaning aimless links to random Premier League sides every summer have become rather predictable.
Striker – Karim Benzema (Arsenal)
Before Arsene Wenger’s reign as Arsenal manager was over, there was a point towards the end that saw the Gunners linked with Benzema at just about every opportunity. A bid this, personal terms that, the Real Madrid man was never actually close to heading to Arsenal, but the rumours still cropped up every year without fail.
Striker – Leandro Damiao (Tottenham)
Remember him? Randomly linked with every top club in Europe at one point, the Brazilian striker looked nailed on to join Tottenham. According to random transfer reports, anyway. Damiao never actually got near Spurs in the end, despite the constant speculation, and faded into the background rather quickly.
And here’s the XI in full: