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Rumour Mill XI

Graham Macmillan-Mason casts his mind back to some of the close calls, failed medicals and weird rumours that we've had over the years during the annual transfer 'silly season'.

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Goalkeeper – Brad Friedel

Friedel had long been linked to a move to England when Peter Reid came along and offered a deal to the talented stopper.After a medical, fee and contract was agreed, the powers that be denied him a work permit, when he then instead moved to Turkish outfit Galatasaray. Eventually being granted a work permit to move to Liverpool a year later, he completed a £1.7m move to Merseyside in 1997. He went on to play over 450 games in the Premier League for Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs.

RB – Gino Peruzzi

#peruzziwatch, remember it? Highly rated by Football Manager gamers, the Argentine had long been linked to join Paolo Di Canio’s new-look defence which already included the formidable Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge. Highly rated an chased by more than just Paolo, we all watched online to see when his supposed plane from Buenos Aires was going to land in Ponteland. When he eventually got here, it turned out his knees were a bit knackered. Not to be disappointed, we added Ondrej Celustka to Roberto De Fanti’s Frankenstein-like brain child of a back four. Peruzzi now lines up for Boca Juniors.

CB – Nicolas Lombaerts

Last season we embarked on another new era. This time it was under Dutchman Dick Advocaat, and safe to say, medicals seemed to be a bit of a pain. Infact, they slowly became a nightmare. A £5m fee was agreed for the Belgian international after weeks of talks over a protracted move to bring him in from Zenit. When all was finally agreed, it appeared his knees, much like those of Leroy Fer, were essentially knackered. Ironically, we decided to plough on with Wes Brown.

CB – Giorgio Chiellini

This rumour cropped up during Roy Keane's tenure, as he decided the dream team of Nyron and Paul McShane needed to move aside for some Italian steel. Allegedly intrigued by his performances in a Juventus’ UK summer tour, Chiellini had a hugely impressive Euro 2008 tournament. A week after the rumour gained some ground, we picked up Danny Higginbotham instead. Chiellini lived happily ever after and went on to win loads of nice trophies with Juventus.

LB – Leighton Baines

In a summer where everyone we managed to agree a fee for seemed to be a boyhood Everton fan, Baines was probably the one that pissed us off most. A solid few seasons with Wigan made Premiership clubs take notice of the future England left back - eventually it was Roy Keane who was the first to have a bid of £6m accepted. Of course at that point Everton decided they liked him as much as he liked them and thus Leighton went "home", and home is where he still resides.

RM – Edison Cavani

So this one was MENTAL. As Sunderland went on their jollies to Hong Kong, Roberto Di Fanti stayed on the continent to sign players. Just to prove how absolutely off his trolley he was, he allegedly genuinely chased the Uruguayan from Napoli. Safe to say, Edison lost out when he chose the Champs Elysee over Jackie Whites with a big money move to PSG. Your loss Cav.

CM – Eva Banega

In the summer of 2014 the world of SAFC for once seemed positive. The great escape coupled with a Wembley appearance made us all believe that maybe Gustavo Poyet was the man to lead us into mid table successfully. An £8m bid was made for Valencia’s Eva Banega as a direct replacement for Jack Colback (chortle). On loan to Newell’s Old Boys the season previous, the move appeared to have legs, until our alleged medical team believed Banega maybe didn’t as he supposedly failed a medical. Now he appears for Inter. Typical.

CM – Paul Scholes

How close this one ever came to being true, I’m not sure any of us really know. But for about 4 seasons in a row, it was rumoured that arguably England’s greatest midfielder of the last 25 years was all set to rock up in a red and white shirt. Alas, his talent grew to world class proportions so eventually Sir Alex never even considered a sale. I do however wonder if it ever got as close as we were all told.

LM – Charles N’Zogbia

Of course when he’s closer than he’s ever been to joining the lads, he’s available for nowt. For years we chased the former Wigan man, even offering £11m for his services at one point, before Aston Villa took him from under our noses. After six years of chasing him he finally appeared in a red and white shirt this summer but it was decided that he wasn't needed. Ho hum.

CF – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

This may come as a surprise to you readers, especially if you’re under the age of 20. Reidy however did chase the legend that became Zlatan as a 20-year-old. A £6m bid was made to Ajax, and it was thought Ronald Koeman was tempted to cash in. He eventually ended up selling fellow striker Mido instead. We signed Tore Andre Flo rather than pursue the big Swede. The rest is history. Oh, Sunderland.

CF – Robbie Keane

Part of me still expects the all-time top Irish goal scorer to walk into the Academy of Light from Los Angeles, pull on the red and white stripes and hold a scarf above his head. Despite playing for (and being a boyhood fan of) almost every club across the British Isles, the Stadium of Light was a place he evidently never fancied. Chased firstly by Peter Reid, he was looked at by numerous Wearside’s gaffers, but not one of them could persuade him.

So there we have it. We could have been watched Zlatan and Robbie Keane smash in 30-40 goals a season each if Reidy had his way. Chiellini could have swept up at the back if Keano could have convinced Drumaville to splash more cash, and if it weren’t for a medical…who knows what team we could have had. But when you’ve had the quality of Flo, Higginbotham, Bridcutt and Coates come in instead, let’s be honest…

Who would want them anyway?


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