If only... Diego Maradona to Sheffield United and the Top 10 transfer near misses
Well, well well. It seems even the best make mistakes as Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he passed up on the chance to sign Joe Hart for a paltry £100,000 , which really does seem a bargain when you consider he shelled out £18.9m for David de Gea in the summer.
Still, it's not the first time Fergie has missed out on a good deal, or indeed the first time a move has collapsed that could have changed the course of football history.
Here we take a look at the best transfers that almost happened - and what it would have meant if they had come off.
Michael Laudrup (Juventus to Liverpool)
What Happened: Arguably the finest export to come out of Denmark - Carlsberg aside - the Dane looked set for a switch to Anfield in the early 1980s having caused a stir in his homeland with KB. But the deal collapsed when Laudrup refused to commit to the Merseysiders for more than three years. Soon after he joined Juventus for $1m - a then Danish transfer record.
Consequences: Arguably the finest Liverpool side ever seen, Laudrup passed up on the opportunity of figuring in Bob Paisley's team that dominated both at home and abroad. While the Reds were being crowned Kings of Europe in 1981 and again in 1984, Laudrup would have to wait until 1992 before claiming the European crown with Barcelona.
9) Matt Le Tissier (Southampton to Tottenham)
What Happened: Le Tiss spent his entire career with the Saints, but it could have been an entirely different story. Tottenham made a move for his services ahead of the 1989-90 season, but he pulled out of the deal at the very last minute - with his fiancée not keen on a move to London.
Consequences: Le Tissier was left to fight off relegation with the Saints while Spurs were marching to FA Cup glory in 1991. That'll teach you to listen to the missus!
Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest to Blackburn)
What happened: Keano upset many people in his heyday, none more so than Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish, who believed he had completed a deal to sign the Forest midfielder in the summer of 1993. Rumour has it that Dalglish tried to force the move through late on a Friday afternoon, but was made to wait until Monday to complete the paperwork. By then, though, Sir Alex Ferguson had been on the blower to his future United skipper and had managed to snatch him away from Rovers' grasp.
Consequences: While Rovers were left ruing their loss, Keane was collecting virtually every honour in the game as United dominated the 90s.
7) Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Arsenal)
What happened: Arsene Wenger almost stole a march on Fergie in the quest to sign the youngster who would go on to become the world's costliest player. The Arsenal boss recalls: "I had Ronaldo at the training ground. I showed him around and I gave him a shirt. It had his name on the back. I wanted him to be here." However, Ronaldo instead jumped at the chance to join fellow compatriot Carlos Quieroz at Old Trafford - and the rest is history.
Consequences: While Ronaldo was finding his feet in the Premier League, Arsenal's 'Invincibles' cruised to the Premier League title in 2003-04, and the following year added the FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. However, Ronaldo was soon picking up medals of his own - three back-to-back Premier League titles and the 2008 European Cup before packing his bags for Real Madrid and La Liga in 2009.
6) Paul Gascoigne (Newcastle to Manchester United)
What Happened: Gazza attracted interest from both United and Spurs after being named the PFA Young Player of the Year following his performances in the 1987-88 season. Despite favouring a move to Liverpool, no bid arrived from the Merseysiders, leaving Fergie and Terry Venables to compete for his signature. Gascoigne initially agreed on a move to Old Trafford, but at the 11th hour he went back on his word and joined Tottenham for £2.3m - a then British transfer record.
Consequences: Gazza would have thought he'd made the right decision as United struggled in the late 80s while he starred for Spurs and England. But, although he won the FA Cup in 1991 - in that infamous final where he ruptured his knee ligaments - that was the highlight of his time in London before he moved to Italy. Things may have been very different personally and professionally had he stayed in the north and benefited from Fergie's fatherly management style - and become part of the United team that would dominate the 1990s.
Kenny Dalglish (West Ham trialist)
What happened: Having been invited down to West Ham for a trial, Hammers boss Ron Greenwood decided against signing the young starlet because he was deemed too lightweight. The Irons' loss was Celtic's gain. Dalglish flourished in his home city before a move to Liverpool, where he is now widely regarded as the best player in the club's history.
Consequences: While Dalglish helped Celtic to land three straight SPL titles from 1971-74, the Hammers struggled in mid-table mediocrity which eventually saw Greenwood replaced by John Lyall in 1974.
4) Zinidine Zidane (Bordeaux to Blackburn)
What happened: "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?" That was the 'expert' view of chairman Jack Walker, who decided against bankrolling a move for Zizou. Kenny Dalglish had agreed a deal in principle to sign the Frenchman, along with compatriot Christophe Dugarry. But much to his amazement, the board refused to sanction his request. Sherwood proved to be a popular figure at Ewood Park, but he was no Zidane who went on to become a World Cup winner and World Player of the Year in 1998.
Consequences: Perhaps if they had pushed the boat out for the French superstar Rovers would have won more than their solitary Premier League title in 1995. Given what Zidane went on to achieve, we suspect he regrets the move not coming off rather less than Rovers' fans.
Alan Shearer (Newcastle United to Manchester United)
What happened: Shearer famously turned down Fergie not once but twice! The United boss was keen on pairing Big Al alongside Eric Cantona, but saw his dream partnership slip between his fingers. Having initially failed to prize him away from Southampton - when Shearer joined Blackburn instead - Sir Alex returned with a second bid for the Geordie favourite following Euro '96 - a tournament which saw the England No.9 collect the Golden Boot after a five-goal haul. Shearer's head would not be turned though, and he chose instead to join his hometown club of Newcastle.
Consequences: Shearer was intent on winning medals with the club he supported as a boy. It didn't happen. Had he moved to Old Trafford, he would have had a collection of gongs to match that of his Match of the Day punditry buddy Alan Hansen. Instead he never added to the Premier League medal he won with Blackburn.
2) Eric Cantona (Nimes to Sheffield Wednesday)
What happened: After throwing a bit of a hissy-fit, the striker announced his retirement from the game in 1991. While he angered many in France, Cantona was attracting much attention on British soil. Trevor Francis invited the mercurial forward to Sheffield - an invitation he willingly accepted. When asked to stay on for a second week on trial, however, Cantona refused. Unlike Francis, Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson needed no convincing, and snapped him up on a permanent deal.
Consequences: Francis watched as Cantona inspired Leeds to Championship glory, while the Owls had to settle for third place behind runners-up Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson's answer to that little problem? Sign the Frenchman.
1) Diego Maradona (Argentinos Juniors to Sheffield United)
What happened: Blades manager Harry Haslam had struck a deal to sign Maradona for an estimated £600,000 in 1978, but after being told there were no funds to complete the deal, he turned to Alex Sabella as his replacement.
Consequences: The Blades could have done with the young Argentine, for whom stardom was fast approaching. Stuck in the old Second Division, they suffered relegation to the third tier at the end of the 1978-79 campaign and would wait a further 11 years before finally reaching the top-flight in 1990 - four years after Maradona had been crowned World Player of the Year after winning the World Cup in 1986.
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