The shocking Premier League transfers which almost happened - including Kaka to Man City

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A look at some of the most bonkers transfer stories which almost came to fruition - including Zinedine Zidane, Andres Iniesta and Robert Lewandowski

We are just days from the January transfer window slamming shut and, to everyone’s dismay, there has not been much to talk about, has there? Premier League clubs have been unusually frugal this month - despite spending £815million a year ago.

Compare that to a £55million outlay in 2024 and it becomes easy to understand Sky Sports News’ woes as they struggle to post anything worthwhile on their yellow ticker. Supporters would be refreshing their news feeds every other minute in the hope that their club had completed late business ahead of the run-in.

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However, tumbleweed is likely to pass by training grounds across the country as purse strings become tightened, with FFP/PSR concerns dominating the news agenda. But fear not, football fans, because 3AddedMinutes has profiled five deals from yesterday which promised - and failed - to change the sporting landscape forever.

From natural disasters to World Cup winners, we have relived some of the Premier League’s greatest transfer near misses of all time.

The Kakatalyst

In January 2009, Manchester City’s quest for global domination was in its infancy. Sheikh Mansour had only arrived four months earlier and was eager to kick-start the eventual trophy-laden juggernaut.

But an ambitious plot to sign Brazilian superstar Kaka was laughed off. A club who were playing in England’s third tier less than a decade ago could not possibly sign a former Ballon d’Or winner, could they?

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Kaka revealed to FourFourTwo in 2017 that negotiations were more advanced than everyone thought. He said: "It looked like a new, exciting challenge and a new chapter for me, but it had all come out of nowhere - and very quickly. Soon I started to feel confused and anxious. 

“The situation messed me up. I was quite agitated and emotionally shaken. The negotiations between City and I went very far indeed. It came to the point where all of the numbers and the finer details had been discussed. The offer was on the table. The only thing separating City and I was my final word.

"I could hear the fans celebrating, screaming and singing. I took my Milan shirt and joined the supporters in celebrating. They sang and danced for ages – there were even flares and smoke bombs.

"It was a wild celebration and I’d never seen anything quite like it. I don’t regret my decision at all. My decision to deny City’s offer is proof that the money was never a priority in my decisions."

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To this day, Robert Lewandowski remains one of the best strikers in world football. At 35, the pole is still banging in goals for Barcelona after eight illustrious years at Bayern Munich.

But how different that could have been if not for the volcanic ash cloud which engulfed Europe in early 2010? Then a relative unknown, Lewandowski was available to Blackburn for just £3million.

“We'd seen a lot of Robert Lewandowski and we knew we were dealing with a top-class striker,” former head of recruitment Martyn Glover said. “We had a deal in mind and went along with Sam (Allardyce) to see him playing for Lech Poznan.

"Discussions with the club president went as planned so we sat down with Robert after the game and had an outline proposal in place for him to join Rovers. After that, whatever could have gone wrong, went wrong. 

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“He was due to fly to the UK but all flights were cancelled due to that volcanic ash cloud. The chairman (John Williams) was worried that Poland wasn't famous for producing prolific goal scorers and there were questions raised around the fee, which was around £3million, rising to £4million.”

Can’t believe it’s all Rovers

Not once, but twice did Blackburn make a monumental error in the transfer market. In the mid-90s, Rovers were the moneybags of English football.

Local businessman Jack Walker was bankrolling his beloved Blackburn to superstardom but he also, according to legend, vetoed signing one of the greatest players ever… to sign Tim Sherwood.

"Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?" was reportedly the cry - a question that would now only be asked satirically. The former midfielder opened up about this bizarre episode on a podcast three years ago.

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"We were English champions and Zidane and Christophe Dugarry came to the training ground to have a look around," Sherwood told the Squeaky Bum Time Podcast. It was an impressive training ground, by the way, but they decided or Jack Walker decided that they weren’t going to join us.”

As everyone knows, Zidane went on to become arguably the best midfielder to grace a football pitch. A colossal blunder.

El Ceribrox

Andres Iniesta is fighting Zidane for the title of world’s greatest midfielder. The Barcelona magician, dubbed El Cerebro, or “the brain”, won every honour available, with his goal against the Netherlands clinching Spain’s first World Cup in 2010.

But how would he have coped if Iniesta swapped the Spanish sunshine for regular Scottish showers? Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish revealed that almost became a possibility.

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“He was only 18 at the time,” McLeish previously told the Daily Record. “Rangers were downsizing and I needed players of quality, who could take the ball in midfield. Jan Wouters phoned Henk ten Cate, who was Rijkaard’s assistant at Barcelona. Jan asked if there was anybody we could get and was told about a young kid called Iniesta.

“We asked if we could bring him to Scotland and were told that they would try and make some hay at Barcelona and get him over to us. They said Iniesta needed to get some action.”


Brazilian legend Rivaldo was openly angling for one final payday at Bolton Wanderers in 2004. Just two years after winning the World Cup, the ex-Barcelona and AC Milan striker’s career was winding down.

Bolton, spearheaded by Sam Allardyce, were an emerging force in English football, making eye-catching signings like Jay-Jay Okocha and Fernando Hierro. Rivaldo was keen to join the Reebok revolution but a move ultimately broke down.

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"There is a chance (of playing for Bolton),” Rivaldo revealed. “As long as the club offer more money and matches what I'm asking. The club is good, the stadium is very nice and my challenge would be to take the club into Europe. If I reach an agreement with Bolton I will live in Manchester."

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