Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo, Alves: Liverpool's eight craziest transfer fails

Liverpool have become renowned for their highly effective navigation of the transfer market in recent seasons.

We’ve seen the Reds pick up Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson for a steal.

Joel Matip for free.

And when they have splashed the cash on the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, significantly, they’ve got it right.

But it wasn’t always that way. Prior to the appointment of sporting director Michael Edwards in 2011 and the ensuing Jurgen Klopp era from 2015, Liverpool’s transfer history was more miss than hit.

To make matters worse they missed out on a wide range of world class players over the years for several reasons, although most of which can be assigned under the umbrella of lacklustre negotiating skills.

So, who are these elite stars that Liverpool watched pass by and into the hands of some of their nearest rivals?

Well, trust us when we say that the board would have been kicking themselves given what they went on to achieve.

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Liverpool’s eight craziest transfer fails

Cristiano Ronaldo

Liverpool were seriously interested in the prospect of signing Ronaldo in the summer of 2003, shortly before his switch to Manchester United.

The assistant manager at the time, Phil Thompson, flew out to Lisbon to watch him in action and report back to Gerard Houllier.

The two pondered over a decision, but couldn’t come to a conclusion on whether to approach despite Ronaldo reportedly saying at the time, per the Liverpool Echo:

“Liverpool are one of the best clubs in England and it would be a dream for any player to represent a club of such traditions.

“I will have to hope they make an offer that is good for both Sporting and myself.”

What could have been, ey?

“10 days later I was sitting in a lounge at Anfield having some lunch and looking at the big TV screen,” recalled Thompson, via the Mirror.

“Up came the news that Manchester United had signed Ronaldo from Lisbon for £12.2million. Gerard and myself nearly choked on our food!”

FARO, PORTUGAL – FEBRUARY 17: Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Portugal in action during the Portugal training session on February 17,2003 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane

Unlike the rest of the inclusions on this list there has been no formal admittance or evidence that Liverpool were interested in Zidane, however the iconic Frenchman was heavily, heavily linked to the club during the early 1990’s.

Of course, he wasn’t the household name he is today back then given it was early on his career.

But rumour has it that you couldn’t walk down a street in Liverpool without hearing whispers that Zidane had been spotted buying a house in Formby, or that he’d just jumped off a plane at the airport.

If only…

Zidane France

Luis Figo

Ah, from one Real Madrid galactico to another. The difference in Figo’s case, though, is that he was actually tantalisingly close to making the switch to Anfield back in 2005.

After believing that he was ‘surplus to requirements’ under Florentino Perez, Figo was under the impression that he could move to Liverpool on a free.

The Guardian reported at the time that he’d even agreed a £60,000-per-week deal with the club, but then Perez decided to drag his feet and demand two million for the player.

It seems Liverpool, incredibly, were uncertain and Figo joined Inter Milan.

“With the English side everything has ended, but I am glad other big clubs have put their eyes on me,” said Figo, via the Times.

Luis Figo Real Madrid
9 May 2001: Luis Figo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi-final Second Leg between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, Germany. Bayern Munich won the match 2 – 1. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

Dani Alves

A 23-year-old Alves nearly moved to Liverpool from Sevilla in 2006.

“I pretty much had an agreement in place with Liverpool, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen at the last moment and I don’t know why. I wasn’t the one conducting the negotiations, I had other people representing me back then.” Dani Alves later recalled, per Transfermarkt.

Alexis Sanchez

Liverpool were very sweet on bringing Sanchez to Anfield in the summer of 2014 – you know, just before he became a phenom at Arsenal – and even had a deal in place to buy the Chilean star from Barcelona.

However, the player and his wife pulled the plug on the deal because they wanted to live in London.

Alexis Sanchez Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – JANUARY 05: Alexis Sanchez of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal to complete his hat-trick during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Elche FC at Camp Nou on January 5, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Dele Alli

The boyhood Liverpool fan was playing for MK Dons when the Reds made their approach in 2015.

But according to Ian Ayre, per Transfermakt, there were some difficulties when it came to Alli’s demands.

“Where it got to was that the demands were not fitting of what the player had achieved at that point.” Ayre said.

Nowadays, Alli plays for Everton.

Some Liverpool fan, ey…

Nabil Fekir

It seems even Fekir has no clue why he never got his dream switch to Liverpool.

The Frenchman underwent a medical in 2019 but the club had a last minute change of heart.

“Even I don’t know the truth why the transfer to Liverpool didn’t work out. I passed my medical check and then they decided not to sign me after all.” Fekir told L’Equipe.

Arsenal target and France midfielder Nabil Fekir

Michael Laudrup

Laudrup reportedly shook hands on a three year deal with Liverpool back in 1983, however when the club tried to re-negotiate to extend the contract length, the move collapsed and Laudrup opted for Juventus instead.

“Liverpool were my team as a kid,” he said in 2012, per the Liverpool Echo. “I watched them as a kid on television back home in Denmark.

“I loved the team, the atmosphere. But I never got the chance to play there.”

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