Before Manchester City, it was Chelsea who dominated the Premier League transfer market. Fresh from oil-rich Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, the London club transformed from an outfit in danger to one of the most fearsome teams in Europe in just a few seasons.
Jose Mourinho, who was just beginning his illustrious career at this point, was given an endless pot of money to construct his team, and what a job he did. Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and a young Arjen Robben arrived in his first year, quickly followed by Michael Essien, Ashley Cole and Michael Ballack.
But as successful as they were, how different would things have been in one of England’s finest ever midfielders joined all those years ago…
Steven Gerrard – 2005
BBC Sport reported all the way back in 2005 that Liverpool legend Gerrard intended on leaving the club after turning down a new £100,000-a-week contract.
“Steven has told us he will not accept our offer of an improved and extended contract because he wants to leave,” a Liverpool club statement read at the time.
Liverpool had already blocked a £32m bid for the player from Chelsea and were only prepared to allow the midfield ace to leave if he submitted a formal transfer request.
As we now know, nothing ever materialised from this event opening Gerrard’s opportunity to become one of Liverpool’s all-time greatest players.
However, the thought of a Gerrard-Lampard midfield partnership is quite frankly scary. Two of the greatest players to ever have graced the English game, who accrued a combined total of 449 goals and 308 assists for their clubs, fusing their talents to dominate the Premier League for years and years to come.
The partnership every England fan talked up in the pub, and every child dreamed of seeing in action, but one which we were deprived of.
Chelsea instead opted to recruit Michael Essien from Lyon for £26m (source: The Telegraph). The Ghanaian helped his club to one Champions League, two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a single English League Cup, which is by no means a poor return. But it was no Steven Gerrard, and fans will always be left wondering ‘what if?’