Eight times Chelsea hijacked 'done' deals

Chelsea have beaten Manchester United to the signature of Pedro, but Chris Flanagan notes it's not the first time they've swooped late to nab a deal that seemed done elsewhere...

1) Gianluca Vialli (1996)

Even before Roman Abramovich's arrival at Chelsea, the Blues were capable of hijacking a deal on the odd occasion. Vialli was part of an influx of top overseas talent at Stamford Bridge, later going on to become the club's manager.

But it was Rangers who looked set to bring the Italian to the UK in the summer of 1996, once his contract at Juventus had expired. Gers boss Walter Smith and chairman David Murray flew to Italy for talks with Vialli's representatives even before the end of the 1995/96 campaign, believing that the only competition they faced was from Parma.

"It is now not a monetary decision, it is purely a footballing matter on whether he wants to play out his career with us or Parma," Murray said.

But things changed dramatically when the Juve striker did his good turn for the year and helped the Old Lady across the road to European glory, securing victory over Ajax on penalties in Rome. And while the Scottish edition of one national newspaper was announcing Vialli's move to Rangers, the English editions were reporting that Chelsea had taken over the deal.

"Vialli has sent me a personal letter to say he will not be signing for Rangers," Murray said. "He says he is very sorry but that he will be joining Chelsea instead. He feels he achieved everything there is for him to achieve in football when he lifted the Champions League. That victory made it easier for him to decide to move to London for lifestyle reasons.

"It's disappointing for us but it's not the end of the world. There are around 10 top strikers in Europe and we will be signing one of them this summer."

As it turned out, they didn't – not that it mattered. Even without Vialli, Rangers won the league for a ninth successive season in 1996/97.

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