By Ryan Baldi, Football Whispers
After their 5-1 aggregate humbling at the hands of bitter rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup this week, Barcelona will be ruing their failure to sign one of the men in white who contributed to their downfall.
Marco Asensio, the 21-year-old Spanish international winger, scored a spectacular goal in each leg of the tie for Madrid, but he could, and should, have been playing for the other side.
Barcelona passed up the chance to sign the gifted youngster for as little as €3million from Mallorca as a teenager. It’s a decision which seems all the more ill advised in light of Neymar’s departure – Asensio would have been ideal for the left-wing spot the Brazilian has vacated.
With this monumental transfer blunder in mind, our friends at Football Whispers have looked back on six other famous transfer market failings.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Arsenal
It’s become a recurring joke now that Arsene Wenger could’ve signed almost every top player in the world for Arsenal at some point in the past, only to pass up the opportunity or lose out to another club.
One such famous case is Ronaldo. As an 18-year-old in 2003, the Portuguese winger was supposedly shown around Arsenal’s training ground and given a Gunners shirt with his name on it.
A £4million deal was in place with Sporting Lisbon to acquire the youngster, but the Portuguese club’s friendly against Manchester United that summer changed everything.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were run ragged by the gifted trickster in the game, inspiring the United boss, supposedly at the behest of his players, to snap up the young Ronaldo in a £12.24million deal.
Zinedine Zidane – Blackburn Rovers
After winning the Premier League title in 1995, Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish set his sights on summer reinforcements.
Among his top targets was a little-known French midfielder excelling in Ligue 1 with Bordeaux.
When Dalglish put the idea of signing Zidane to club owner Jack Walker, the reply the Scottish manager received was, allegedly: “Why do you want to sign Zinedine Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?”
John Hartson – Rangers
Rangers were all set to sign Hartson from Wimbledon for £5.5million in the summer of 2000 until a failed medical saw the deal cancelled, with the player “devastated” by the collapse of his “dream transfer”, according to a report by the Telegraph at the time.
Hartson instead joined Coventry City on a pay-as-you-play deal in January 2001, but he was soon on the move again.
The powerful former Arsenal striker would make Rangers rue their decision not to sign him by bagging 109 goals in five seasons with the Bhoys, winning three Scottish Premier League titles and three domestic cups.
Robert Lewandowsi – Blackburn Rovers
Another Blackburn transfer faux pas that has entered football folklore is the club’s pursuit of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski in 2010.
“Big” Sam Allardyce was in charge at Ewood Park at the time and was keen to bring in the now-Bayern Munich hitman who was playing for Lech Poznan.
Blackburn made an offer for the striker only for their efforts to be scuppered by Mother Nature. The eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull produced an enormous ash cloud which halted flights all across Europe, meaning Lewandowski was unable to travel to England to complete the move. He instead signed for Borussia Dortmund that summer for just €4.5million.
Andriy Shevchenko – West Ham United
Despite their recent struggles to sign a top-level centre-forward, West Ham have had some fantastic strikers throughout their history. The likes of Trevor Brooking, Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee have all earned cult status in East London at one time or another.
One unlikely name who almost joined that list is AC Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko, who was offered to the Hammers as a 19-year-old in the mid-1990s.
“I was offered [Shevchenko] when he was only 19,” Then-manager Harry Redknapp recalls. “We had him over for training for three or four days and I remember watching him play for us in a game against Barnet reserves at Chadwell Heath.
“He didn’t pull up any trees but looked decent enough. But this was just after I had had all those problems with the Romanian lads and I thought the last thing I needed was a Ukrainian. Besides, they were asking around £1million for him and I didn’t have the money at the time.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Arsenal
Ibrahimovic took the Premier League by storm wth Manchester United last season and powered Jose Mourinho’s side to a cup double. But the charismatic Swede could have been doing the same for Arsenal for the lest decade-and-a-half.
As a 19-year-old at Malmo in his native Sweden, Ibrahimovic went on trial with the Gunners, impressing Wenger with his skill and technique. A deal seemed to be a formality.
But when asked to play a friendly for the reserves so Wenger could assess the youngster in a live match situation, Ibrahimovic said: “Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.” And that was that.