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In football, as in life, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
That ability to turn back the clock and alter the past is something we all crave at times. Mistakes from days gone by can often evoke painful memories and leave some to suffer from sleepless nights.
Fans of the beautiful game in particular are often left wondering what might have been had that one chance found the back of the net, while players can be left rueing a fateful miss for eternity. But perhaps those who are forced to endure the most crushing rumblings of regret are managers and owners tasked with signing the next big star for their side.
Over the years, countless Premier League clubs have been left retrospectively red-faced have snubbed a signing only to see them go on and become of the game's most revered names. Following Thiago's masterclass in Liverpool's 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United, Daily Star Sport take a closer look at the time the Spaniard came close to signing for Bolton – in our collection of the most ridiculous near-miss transfers in Premier League history.
Thiago to Bolton
Thiago has pulled the strings in the heart of Liverpool's midfield over recent months as the Reds' remarkable quadruple charge continues, however it could have been oh-so different. The Spaniard nearly signed for Owen Coyle's Bolton.
Back in the summer of 2011, Wanderers nearly pulled off one of the coups of the century as they plotted a stunning £7million swoop for the Barcelona baller backed by then-owner Eddie Davies. Then-Bolton chairman Phil Gartside even flew out to Spain to hold talks with the Camp Nou side, but a move hit the buffers when Thiago himself turned down the Trotters, rejecting both a permanent move and a season-long loan.
Robert Lewandowski to Blackburn
Robert Lewandowski is revered as one of the greatest centre-forwards of the modern-age following his roaring success with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, but it remains to be seen if he would have achieve such acclaim had he joined Blackburn Rovers back in 2010. Back then, a 21-year-old Lewandowski, then on the books of Polish outfit Lech Poznan, appeared set on a move to Ewood Park.
However a £4m deal was famously denied as a volcanic ash cloud in Iceland put paid to his plans of catching a flight to England. His agent Cezary Kucharski later told the Daily Mail: "He got the invitation [from Blackburn], but due to the cancellation of the flights he could not go, and it makes no sense to drive." Much like that fateful ash cloud, this deal went up in smoke…
HAVE YOUR SAY! Which is the most ridiculous Premier League transfer that nearly happened? Let us know in the comments section
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Arsenal
Having already seen a potential move to QPR derailed after he told a coach to f*** off, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was then snubbed by another English outfit in Arsene Wenger's Arsenal. The Frenchman invited the 16-year-old Swede to the Gunners' training ground and posed with Zlatan after handing him some of Arsenal's iconic attire.
However, when Wenger asked the towering teenager to go on trial, all hope of a deal died there and then. Ibrahimovic famously spouted: "I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'No way, Zlatan doesn't do auditions.'"
Rivaldo to Bolton
Thiago wasn't the only star name to come agonising close to joining Bolton, as Brazilian legend Rivaldo can testify. The former Barcelona and AC Milan icon appeared all but set to team up with Sam Allardyce's Trotters back in 2004, only for Olympiacos to pinch the famed forward at the last minute.
“Four years ago I met the manager and the chairman but in the end we could not reach an agreement, which meant I didn’t sign for Bolton," Rivaldo revealed in 2008. “I cannot say why it didn’t happen. It is a great shame."
Virgil van Dijk to Hull City
Football fans were up in arms when Liverpool shelled out £75million for Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk back in December of 2017, but those who mocked have since been left red-faced. The Dutchman has emerged as one of the game's greatest defenders in the years since, only adding to Steve Bruce's embarrassment after he admitted he could have captured the centre-back for a snip.
“I could have taken him [van Dijk] to Hull,” Bruce confessed in 2019. "I tried to get him before he went to Southampton. You were talking about £10-12m, but we just couldn’t go that high. I tried to do it, but I had no chance.”
Emmanuel Adebayor to Aston Villa
Emmanuel Adebayor's stellar career saw him turn out for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Real Madrid… and very nearly Aston Villa. Back in 2015, the Togolese target man was on the cusp of clinching a move to a Villa side managed by Tim Sherwood, only to get cold feet following a dream.
Former Villa full-back Micah Richards told BBC Sounds: "He came to Villa. He signed – we had him in a shirt. Tim Sherwood was the manager, obviously he had him at Spurs, and he said he wanted to get the best out of him. He came, he signed, got the picture of him in the shirt. The next day, he said 'No, it's not for me'. He just changed his mind. He said he had a vision and a dream so he didn't come. I was devastated."
Zinedine Zidane to Blackburn
On the back of winning the Premier League back in 1995, Blackburn Rovers were keen to bolster their title-winning squad and firmly establish themselves as the best of British football. Recently-appointed Rovers manager Ray Harford and his assistant coach Derek Fazackerley had grand plans to snap up a young French star named Zinedine Zidane, however the club's chairman Jack Walker had other ideas.
Walker famously stated, "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we've got Tim Sherwood?" while a distraught Fazackerley was left to latter exclaim, "Just think what might have been."
Roberto Carlos to Aston Villa
It also transpires that English football fans were robbed of the chance to witness Roberto Carlos plying his trade in the Premier League, as moves to a number of teams fell through. Perhaps most surprisingly, Aston Villa came particularly close.
“I actually came close to joining Aston Villa early in my career,” the Brazilian full-back told The Sun. “I met with the club, but nothing happened. Birmingham were also interested, but it didn’t go anywhere and I later joined Inter Milan.”
- Premier League
- Bolton Wanderers FC
- Liverpool FC
- Arsenal FC
- Aston Villa FC
- Hull City FC
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