7 players who were persistently linked with Premier League moves... but never came
Leandro Damiao (to Tottenham)
For three years, Damiao was imminently joining Tottenham – a transfer saga so long that it saw off two managers in Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas.
The Brazilian was a hot prospect at the start of the decade, prolific for Internacional and a senior international at 21. His form stalled badly after myriad European moves fell through, however, defining disastrous stints at Santos, Cruzeiro, Real Betis and Flamengo. There was a revival back at Internacional on loan in 2017/18 which led to the forward getting an “irrefusable” offer from Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.
The Brazilian scored a winner against Chelsea in pre-season and Mauricio Pochettino publicly declared interest in Damiao, now 30, during his time at Southampton, so... watch out, Harry. That's all we're saying.
Wesley Sneijder (to Manchester United)
Manchester United were perennially linked with a move for Sneijder, who enjoyed a stellar 2010 with Inter Milan and the Netherlands. Instead, the playmaker suffered injuries, fell out with Inter suits and then grabbed a big-money move to Galatasaray in January 2013.
He’s only just retired aged 35, after ending his career at Al Gharafa in Qatar. The Dutchman nonetheless managed to endear himself to United fans without playing for them, after explaining his decision to turn down a move to Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool by saying: “I am a winner, I play for prizes.” Ouch.
Juan Roman Riquelme (to Manchester United, Everton)
Riquelme is revered by millions; a four-time Argentine Footballer of the Year and bona fide legend at Villarreal and Boca Juniors. The thought of him gracing the Premier League was a tantalising one, and it nearly happened on many occasions. Apparently.
Everton – linked for years – even went as far as confirming the playmaker’s signing on their official website in 2007, before hurriedly taking the article down and blaming it on a technical glitch. Manchester United were definitely interested, but Riquelme stayed in Spain and later admitted that turning down Alex Ferguson in 2006 was his sole career regret. What might have been...
William Carvalho (to Arsenal, West Ham)
Arsenal were linked with every defensive midfielder in Europe for approximately a decade, in a bid to finally replace Patrick Vieira and/or Gilberto Silva.
Some names came up again and again – Yann M’Vila, for example, who finally made his Premier League bow with Sunderland in 2015. Another tabloid favourite was Carvalho, who was so often wrongly characterised as a tough-tackling, all-action destructive force.
Everton were also rumoured to be in for the Portugal international several times, and West Ham bid for Carvalho in 2017 – an episode that later led to Davids Gold and Sullivan being called the “dildo brothers” by Sporting CP president Bruno de Carvalho. Arsenal went for Lucas Torreira last summer, while Carvalho joined Real Betis.
Simon Kjaer (to... everyone?)
Kjaer has been linked to so many clubs over the course of his career that you have to double check that he never played in the Premier League. It feels a lot like he had a spell with West Ham or Fulham around 2013, but no.
It’s easy to forget just how promising Kjaer was as a young defender – which is why strong rumours with Chelsea, Arsenal, both Manchester clubs and Spurs ran wild. The Dane has played in Italy, Germany, Turkey, France and Spain, for seven clubs in 12 years as a pro… but never in England.
Nicolas Gaitan (to Manchester United)
United clearly enjoy a protracted transfer pursuit that never actually materialises, and Gaitan certainly fits the bill. Billed as the next Angel Di Maria (because obviously), Gaitan shone in spells at Benfica but never really fulfilled his potential.
He’s already played in the Chinese Super League and MLS at 31, and currently turns out for Chicago Fire. The Argentine almost feels more like a concept than an actual footballer.
Julian Draxler (to Arsenal)
Draxler thrilled with Schalke as a teenager, and Premier League talk followed soon afterwards. Arsenal tried desperately to lure the winger to north London over several windows, but Draxler stayed in Germany – opting first to stay at Schalke, then joining Wolfsburg in summer 2015.
He’s been at PSG since 2017, where things haven’t quite panned out as expected, and the 2014 World Cup winner is still regularly linked to Spurs. A go-to rumour mill option who hasn’t quite lived up to his extreme early hype.
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