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The Top Ten: SAFC Transfers That Never Were

This week, it's ten transfers that never happened, nor were ever going to happen.
This week, it's ten transfers that never happened, nor were ever going to happen.

It's time for another Top Ten on Roker Report, where we decide our top ten this, that and the other without any particular rhyme or reason.

That said, this weeks Top Ten is slightly topical in that the January transfer window is now wide open for all rumour and conjecture to come in and out as it pleases. And that's exactly what's documented in this week's list, A Top Ten of transfers that were absolutely 'nailed on' and never came to fruition. The likely cause being because there was absolutely no truth in them whatsoever.

So reminisce with us on a list of epic transfer tales that were never likely, nor even remotely close. If that doesn't make sense, well just read on and you'll get it.

10. Niko Kranjcar

Right at the top we have Niko Kranjcar. It's at the top because whilst some names came immediately, others were admittedly a little ropey.

Anyway, Niko Kranjcar for me is a fine player. Creative, clever and even if slightly lazy can change a game. He's almost exactly the type of player we could have done with over the last few years and whilst he's not been getting a look in very often at Spurs, there's always hope that he could come here.

It's just not very likely is it? You could say it began with Steve Bruce saying he's "a quality player, and Kranjcar is someone we're aware of"... Indeed. Perhaps similarly Leo Messi is a quality player, and I'm aware of him, but he's not likely to come and play for The Brewers Arms next Sunday morning sadly.

Even Kranjcar Snr got in on the act to basically say anyone but Sunderland in a round about way, telling newspapers of the world "Niko would like to stay in London, but he is also ready to leave England if he could move to Serie A. Liverpool is a club which would interest him but, then again, why not Italy?"

As this transfer window opens this week however, it's once again rumoued he's available. Even I myself have been guilty of deluding myself into the fact he could well come, but let's stand back and face the facts. He's not coming, and he never at any time was.

9. Jermain Defoe

Yet another from Spurs that we were "set to swoop for" with various deals in the offing this summer gone. Some were straight cash, some were swap deals involving Asamoah Gyan. It was all very ill-advised, all seeming to stem from "good player wants first team football/we need a striker" and absolutely nothing else in it.

Defoe is a bit of a playboy. He's spent all his career in London, and in the commutable South Coast when he was at Portsmouth. There was little to no chance the lad who only ventures north of Watford for away matches was ever likely to come to the Stadium of Light. No matter how many phone calls, texts and sightings at the legendary Seaham Hall went around various messageboards and social networks.

Most of it seemed to stem from Olympic Boxer Tony Jeffries. Whilst he's a great guy and good fan, he's in no better position than you or me to know anything. Lets not get carried away again.

8. Miguel Angel Nadal

A bit of an older one, but I do recall Nadal being linked to the club back at the turn of the century. For me, this was a pre-internet age, plus I was away on holiday with the school in Italy. I distinctly recall being told over the phone though he'd been sighted in Sunderland, and all was signed. How I rejoiced.

"The Beast Of Barcelona" never did make it to these shores, and looking back, it was incredibly unlikely that he ever would have. One of the worlds finest defenders in his time, of course he'd swap the Sagrada Familia for the Seaburn Centre, we're Sunderland, we're awesome, we had Paul Butler. Oh right, yeah.

Instead we ended up with a different world class, washed up defender in Thomas Helmer, and that worked out exactly as any nonsense transfer of Nadal would have you imagine.

It wasn't going to happen was it? Even if drunk you'd think no chance. If I had the chance I'd go back I'd slap my teenage self in the face for even believing it for a minute. Lake Garda was nice though.

7. Diego Forlan

HE WANTED TO MOVE BACK TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE!... and that's all the justification we needed to delude ourselves into thinking this sort of deal was remotely possible. Well, that combined with Roy Keane once played alongside him.

Anyone with half a working brain knew it wasn't going to happen. Some speculated that he was too good for us, others that it was simply a bad investment to pay a heck of a lot of money for someone of his age. Either way, it wasn't bloody likely was it.

He'd apparently turned us down once, but we still remained hopeful that just because the time wasn't then, it might be now. No. Just stop for one damn moment and watch as he signs for Inter Milan, a team certainly more fitting of his capabilities.

Looking back it seems so silly that some of us believed there was an outside chance of this one. There was never even a slither.

6. Adam Johnson

A relative newcomer to this sort of folly, and one that will still no doubt run and run for every transfer window until the end of time. As Manchester City rotate their squad, it looks as though he's left out, the same could be said of several of their squad, but none of them have the North East roots of Johnson. And that's where the problem lies.

Being brought through at Middlesborough from a young age, and being born in Sunderland, many think we're his natural home. We're not. Sadly, not every person from the area wants to play for us, nor are they die hard fans like you and me.

Yet rumour persists that he's a childhood fan, and that he's worth a "cheeky bid"... he's not, he's on mega-money at City, and likely to win the Premier League in the near future. He's not going to swap that for the mid-table mediocrity battle we're going to be embroiled in this season.

Even if he left any time soon, as one of England's brightest talents, he could well go to nearly any other team in the league. Coming to Sunderland, at any stage before his career declines (it's yet to peak) is nothing more than a pipe-dream we seem to semi-believe every transfer window. Enough.

5. Ariel Ortega

Back to the summer of 1999, and Ariel Ortega, having clearly enjoyed Sunderland so much having been over for Kevin Ball's testimonial with Sampdoria was here to stay as we apparently prepared an £11m bid for the Argentine.

Spotted around Sunderland by many in taxi's, and at the Marriott in Seaburn (way before Seaham Hall's rise to prominence) he was of course on his way. Much to the folly of my youth, I actually believed it for a bit. I recall playing football with some friends when someone on their primitive Motorola received a text from someone's Aunties, Uncles, Friends, Dad's, Brothers, Cat's Next-Door Neighbour, who was a taxi driver, and dropped him off at the Stadium of Light. Nailed on then.

Even then manager Peter Reid got in on the act, stoking the fire in the most non-committal of ways added "Contact has been made, although no bid has been lodged."... Why was no bid lodged? Ortega, at the time, was the business, why wouldn't we make a bid?

Of course, because there was simply no chance of him ever coming. Previously chased by Barcelona and Manchester United, the holder of the much coveted Argentine No.10 shirt was never going to arrive on Wearside. Why would he really? When those sorts of teams are after you?

Those who who've held that shirt... Maradona, Messi, Kempes, Riqueleme, Ortega... None of whom were ever likely to come to Sunderland, not even by accident. I can't believe this one ever had such creedence.

4. Paul Scholes

Despite his retirement, this one is still probably on-going on some weird transfer rumour forum somewhere. For every summer since the dawning of man Paul Scholes has been linked with a move to Sunderland.

A mighty fine player, he was first linked (to my knowledge) in the Peter Reid era, when he was spotted skulking around The Bridges, getting lost in Jacky Whites Market and hopping in and out of various taxis. Perhaps he shared with Ortega, who knows. It was even claimed a bid was put in. Scholes later revealed there had been no such bid for his services.

More recently it was when Roy Keane was in charge, and with Scholes getting on in years, a £2m bid was considered apparently. That would have been an absolute steal. The bids kept being circulated, and seemed to be completely dismissed without comment.

Scholes has kept a low-profile since retirement, perhaps he could take up taxiing in Sunderland, he obviously knows his way around...

3. Robbie Keane

I dunno why Robbie Keane has never signed for us. Perhaps it's that we're seemingly the only team he never supported as a child, although I'm sure that would change should he don the red and white.

Linked with us eternally it seems, at whichever club he's been at be it Wolves, Spurs, Inter Milan or anywhere else. The much discussed "Irish Connection" at the club seemed to ensure Robbie Keane would sign at some point. When it comes to any potential transfer for Keane, I remember thinking he was the new David Connolly. Linked forever, then eventually signed when he was on the downward slope.

It seems Keane now is just linked, and never actually coming. Where this all came from is anyone's guess, it just seemed to be another that has cropped up in the "Sunderland have lots of Irish people, Robbie Keane is Irish, and 2+2 now equals 5."

Some still to this day speculate about seeing Keane at the club with the MLS closed for a bit, a short-term loan might be on the cards. It isn't. Just as it hasn't been for the past decade. Lets forget about it.

2. Charles N'Zogbia

My lord, has anyone ever spent so much time at Seaham Hall than Charles N'Zogbia? I think having spent the entire summer there just gone (allegedly) they've probably named a suite after him.

So, Steve Bruce. He used to manage Wigan, and Charles N'Zogbia's quite a good player... that's pretty much it. I was told by a member of the press that off the record, Bruce did have a "strong interest" in The Zog, but nothing concrete was said publicly. Just admiration, which is fair enough, he's a decent enough player.

Does this strike anyone as a bit "Ortega" at all? To put things another way, I've a "strong interest" in smashing Scarlett Johansson's back doors in, but I doubt she's spending all her time at The Hilton waiting for the call.

N'Zogbia was the story which ran and ran and ran and ran until frankly, even stated on our own podcast at the time, I didn't care any more. At that time Charles finally put us out of our misery by heading to the bright lights of Aston Villa. I'm glad, I really am. Or at least I am until the summer rolls around and the rumours kick off again without substance. I hope we've heard the last, but I doubt it.

1. Jan Koller

Perhaps the transfer rumour to end all rumours. And it never was any more than a rumour, it's been very much confirmed.

In part of an ever-lasting search to replace Niall Quinn, Jan Koller's name was bandied about in both the local and national press that he was on the verge of signing for us, he'd been to the usual haunts of The Bridges, Jacky Whites and spent significant amounts of time in taxis.

All of this was of course denied by Koller's agent, who said there was no such move in the offing, and there never would be. His club at the time Borussia Dortmund even got themselves annoyed with people repeatedly asking whether he was on the verge of a move to Sunderland. The story had gone from local, to national, to European. Everyone and their dog was talking about the transfer that never was, nor even close.

But how the hell did it come about in the first place? Why were we even entertaining the notion of Koller signing for us? Because it was repeated enough times. Repeated by six young wags with a little too much time on their hands, creating a rumour, and executing it's perpetuation to perfection. When you look back at it, it's really quite funny, and credit to them for proving just how much of a horseplop rumour mill the press is at times.

Every time there is an N'Zogbia, a Scholes, a Keane style rumour, I'm now always inclined to believe there's a little bit of "The Koller Six" about it. Well played.


And that's it. Ten drawn out transfers that never happened, nor were ever going to happen. Simply rumours which gather pace, have us all hyped up then disappear. Never happening because there was little to no truth in it.

Of course, that doesn't matter much because they become more true as we WANT to believe them. We want to believe we can attract such names and moves of this ilk aren't beyond the realm of possibility. Next time though, probably this summer when we get caught up in another, lets just take a step back.

Which of them was your favourite, or have we missed something? Do you have your own memories of these moves? Let us know in the comments and vote in the poll!

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