10 botched transfers you might not know about

Michael Essien to Burnley
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5. Raul to Tottenham, 2008

Real Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer could have been banging them in at White Hart Lane had it not been for Juande Ramos’s sacking in 2008. “I had a meal with my agent and Ramos to tell me about Tottenham and the Premier League,” said the forward. But with a deal on the table, the Spurs board decided to bring in Harry Redknapp, and Ramos ended up keeping Raul at Real instead. 

6. Paul Gascoigne to Manchester United, 1988

Alex Ferguson remembers speaking to Gazza the night before going on holiday at the end of the 1987/88 season. “He said ‘Go and enjoy yourself Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United'. So I went on my holidays, but then the chairman rang and said he’d signed for Tottenham. They bought a house for his mother and father in the north-east and that swung it.” One of the great what-ifs of British football.

7. Johan Cruyff to Dumbarton, 1980

The three-time Ballon d’Or winner had talks with Scottish side Dumbarton at the age of 33. Cruyff, a champion of Total Football in the 1970s and widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, admitted he was “tempted” – just not quite enough. Dumbarton's chairman and manager flew to Amsterdam to hold talks with the Dutchman but ultimately failed to land his signature. “I thought I was too old at that stage to go to Scotland, where you know the weather will be difficult,” sighed Cruyff, who joined the Washington Diplomats instead.