Top 10/50/100

Top 10: Botched transfers you might not know about

Essien to Burnley, Gazza to United... Cruyff to Dumbarton?! They're the moves that could have happened...

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Juninho to Aston Villa, 1999

John Gregory’s Villains were sitting second in the Premier League in January 1999, and looked set to bolster their title tilt by signing Juninho from Atletico Madrid. A £12 million fee was agreed for the Brazilian, but then Atletico’s barnpot-in-chief Jesus Gil was hospitalised. The other club officials were reluctant to do business without their president’s say-so (he did, after all, sack 15 managers in three seasons and once declare his players “don’t deserve to live”), and the deal evaporated. He re-joined Middlesbrough three years later. 
Juninho: preferred the Riverside anyway

Muller to Everton, 1994

The Brazilian agreed to join the Toffees after helping the Selecao win the 1994 World Cup. Boss Mike Walker called a press conference, but Muller walked out on the club 30 minutes before being unveiled after discovering the horrendous news that he was going to get taxed on his £20,000 a week wages and wouldn’t receive a free house and car. The poor lamb joined Kashiwa Reysol in Japan instead. He’s now a pastor.

Michael Laudrup to Liverpool, 1983

“We went away from Anfield thinking the deal was done,” says the Danish legend who, as a 19-year-old sensation, agreed a three-year deal with the English champions. “But two weeks later they came back saying they wanted to offer the same package but for four years, because I needed time to develop. I was disappointed, so I decided not to join.” The Dane went to Juventus instead, and later played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Alfredo Di Stefano to Barcelona, 1952

He's widely regarded as the best player in Real Madrid's history, but the legendary striker could have signed for rivals Barcelona. When the Argentine first opted for a move to Spain, the Catalan club were the first to show interest; Di Stefano played in a 1953 pre-season friendly for them. What Barca didn’t realise was that he was registered for two clubs, and so they ended negotiations with Millonarios. Real stepped in and snapped up the free-scoring hitman, who went on to win five consecutive European Cups and eight Spanish titles.
Di Stefano forged a legendary partnership with Ferenc Puskas at Real

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’ 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.

[NEXT: Gazza, Cruyff and Cantona]