Wayne Rooney and Gonzalo Higuain could be on their way to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City will again splash out on some top players, while for the first time in his career David Moyes has a larger slightly at his disposal that the tenner he was given at Everton.
Transfers are often surrounded by an unjustified hype, but one has to look only as far as Robin Van Persie’s impact at Manchester United last season to comprehend the importance a major signing can have on a club.
However, for many transfers that go through, there’s just as many that fail to materialise, altering a player’s and a club’s fortunes to incredible extents. Here’s a list of Premier League transfers that almost happened.
Yaya Toure (Beveren to Arsenal, 2003)
Arsenal have struggled to replace Patrick Vieira since the Frenchman left North London but, had it not been for a combination of factors, they could have had a ready-made replacement in their ranks.
And what a replacement, Yaya Toure would have been too. The City star was offered a trial by Arsenal during which, according to Arsene Wenger, “he was completely average on the day”. Nevertheless, the Arsenal manager recognised the Ivorian potential and offered Toure a contract: “We had an agreement with Yaya to come here but the problem was that we had to wait long enough for a European passport,” said Wenger.
Instead of Arsenal, Toure joined Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine.
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool to Chelsea, 2005)
Despite the “miracle of Istanbul” the Liverpool captain seemed poised to join the Roman Abramovich’s revolution at Stamford Bridge after Jose Mourinho highlighted him as the missing piece to a Champions League-shaped jigsaw.
A £32m offer was on the table, Gerrard was on his way to London but had a change of heart – prompted, the cynics suggest, by the sights of Liverpool fans burning shirts with his name on live on TV – and decided to turn around, consequentially giving up his chance to become a Premier League winner.
Would have the Lampard and Gerrard partnership worked better for Chelsea than it did for England?
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Liverpool, 2003)
Ronaldo is still revered by the red half of Manchester, by the Portuguese star could have been subjected to a complete different treatment, had Gerrard Houllier not passed up the opportunity to bring the then 18-year-old to Liverpool.
“I saw him in the Toulon Under-21 tournament and we went for him, but we had a wage scale and we weren’t paying the sort of salary he wanted,” said Houllier, who thought that breaking the wage structure “would cause problems in our dressing room”.
Alas, Ronaldo moved to United for £12m, with Houllier claiming that his chances at Liverpool would have been limited by, erm… Harry Kewell.
Alan Shearer (Southampton to Manchester United, 1992)
Four years before snubbing United for his hometown club, Shearer was on the verge of joining Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, until Blackburn Rovers made the most of United’s hesitating approach and signed Shearer for £3.2m
There was interest from Manchester United, but I was told I had to wait three or four weeks for them to get the money together.
“I felt if they really wanted me then they would come and get me immediately.
“I had already spoken to Blackburn and told Kenny Dalglish, Ray Harford and Jack Walker that I would give them an answer in three of four days – and my answer was yes.”
Zinedine Zidane (Bordeaux to Blackburn Rovers, 1995)
“Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?” famously claimed Blackburn’s chairman Jack Walker after Kenny Dalglish had suggested luring the French schemer to Lancashire.
Sadly for them, Rovers fans never got to witness how many goals Alan Shearer would have scored with Zizou playing behind him, but it’s safe to assume the Frenchman’s bald patch would have proved enormously more popular than Steve Kean’s.
Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kiev to West Ham United, 1994)
Harry Redknapp knows his business in the transfer window, right? Well, not really, it seems, for long before splashing £12m on Christopher Samba, ‘Arry passed up the opportunity to secure one of Europe’s greatest talents.
Shevchenko scored the winner against Barnet reserves but was deemed to expensive by Redknapp and Frank Lampard Snr and returned to Ukraine, where he’d win a flurry of domestic trophies and take Dynamo Kiev to the Champions League semifinal in 1999.
Arsenal fans have grown frustrated at the number of players plucked from obscure teams in the French league, but their reaction would have been different had Arsene Wenger pulled this off.
The Arsenal manager was offered Drogba for a mere £100,000 but “we felt he might not be completely ready.”
North London’s loss was South West London’s gain.
Special Mention: Diego Armando Maradona (Argentinos Juniors to Sheffield United, 1978)
Imagining El Pibe de Oro trotting out at Bramall Lane sounds as likely as choosing Mars as your next holiday destination, yet it almost happened. Blades’ manager Harry Haslam was poised to sign the Argentine for £600,000 before choosing the cheaper, and incredibly less talented, Alex Sabella.
Maradona’s popularity in Yorkshire would have undoubtedly decreased after that goal, mind.
Which of the transfers mentioned above would have had the biggest impact? Which other transfers would have you included in the list? We want your views so have your say below or get involved on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.