Though the transfer window has shut, the insatiable need for the market rumbles on around the footballing globe, such is the crazy amount of interest the proverbial ‘silly season’ brings to fans.
Indeed, like it or not, transfers and everything that goes with them are one of the major strands of the general footballing narrative. Especially in the digital age, where every supporter can be clued up about potential incomings or outgoings very quickly.
However, what about those mega deals that didn’t quite come off? Here, in our The one who got away series, we’ll take a look at perhaps the most surprising transfers to have fallen at the final hurdle.
Radamel Falcao – Aston Villa, 2008
The latter period of Aston Villa’s 29-year run in the top flight may have been thoroughly miserable, though things could have been different. So different.
Indeed, as the Midlands giants were building a side under Martin O’Neill that could challenge the Premier League top four for Champions League qualification, relying on an English core featuring the likes of Luke Young, Gareth Barry, Steve Sidwell, James Milner and Ashely Young.
At the time, Villa were an upwardly mobile side with dreams of Europe, boasting good players all over the park and grinding out results to keep up with the big boys. However, O’Neill actually missed his great chance of adding that sprinkling of stardust to really spice up his European challenge.
While the January signing of Emile Heskey did seem sensible at the time, helping ease the burden on John Carew as the club’s target man, the Birmingham Mail reported back in May that O’Neill opted for the England man over the excellent Radamel Falcao.
Though ‘El Tigre’ had really yet to roar in Europe, the Colombian marksmen was crafting himself a reputation as one of the best natural finishers in the world while with River Plate. Reportedly offered to the club for just £5m, it’s thought the Irish boss opted to move for Heskey instead.
Had Falcao moved to England in his prime – rather than after his horrendous knee injury – the landscape of the Premier League could well have been different. Cristiano Ronaldo had just become one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi was yet to hit his peak and, on a Premier League front, England’s Golden Generation had aged considerably, so there was certainly a gap in the top tier of world footballing talent.
Clearly, it’s hard to argue that the success Falcao enjoyed with Porto and Atletico Madrid would have exactly translated to a Villa Park setting, though O’Neill and the club’s lack of ambition and imagination of equal measure robbed us all of a chance to find out.