This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.
Clubs in the past have looked to pick up players that nobody have generally heard of before as they try and improve their squad and Rangers have been no different in the past.
The Light Blues have had a number of excellent players on their books at moments in time, with the likes of Shota Arveladze and Michael Mols leading the line for them, while Lorenzo Amoruso made a name for himself with the Ibrox outfit, as he called it the “time of his life”.
Steven Gerrard appears to have been trying to do that during his time with the Bears as he looks to create his own stamp on the Glaswegian giants with a “quality addition” (via Football Insider).
However, Alex McLeish almost landed a teenager who went on to become arguably one of football’s greatest ever players.
Whilst manager of Rangers, McLeish appeared to have a secret weapon of sorts in Jan Wouters, as the boss’ assistant had contacts within the Barcelona setup and almost allowed them to pull off some of the biggest coups the club would have ever seen.
A replacement for Barry Ferguson was needed at Ibrox after their midfielder had moved to Blackburn Rovers and a certain Andres Iniesta appeared to pop up on the Glaswegian outfit’s radar as he was still playing for the Catalan’s youth academy.
McLeish revealed that they were pointed towards the then-teenager and had hoped to bring him on loan with the hope that Barcelona had noticed what they managed to do for Mikel Arteta’s development a few years prior.
Speaking to Record Sport in 2017 about the potential 2004 move for the midfielder, he said: “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.
“He was only 18 at the time. 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.”
However, Barcelona decided against it as they obviously saw the potential in the young kid and decided to promote him to their first team – something that certainly reaped dividends for the Spanish outfit.
Iniesta had a truly remarkable career and one that will likely put him up alongside some of the greatest players to have ever graced the game of football.
Hugely successful, he managed to make 674 appearances for the La Liga giants, providing his team-mates with 140 assists and scoring 57 goals (Transfermarkt), plus amassing over 130 caps for Spain. The 35-year-old does not appear to have taken his foot off the gas, either, as he continues to perform at a high level for Vissel Kobe in Japan, with nine goals and eight assists in his 34 outings to date.
Indeed, Iniesta’s trophy cabinet is one that would make any footballer envious as well, as he has won almost every single honour for which he has competed for during his career for both club and country, including a World Cup and four Champions League titles (Transfermarkt).
With Gerrard thought to have been looking at bringing former Juventus legend Claudio Marchisio to Ibrox, only for a move to collapse because of alleged wage demands, as his “quality” addition, the Spaniard would have certainly fit the bill for McLeish and his desires back in 2004.
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Rangers fans, how annoying is it to hear that the club failed to land Iniesta when he was a teenager? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!
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