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Remember when Michael Essien nearly signed for Burnley?

| 13.10.2014

These days for every 10 signings made in the Premier League, you can guarantee one or two will turn out to be flops. But what about those signings that didn’t happen?

And with Marin Jol revealing this month that he was offered the chance to sign Gareth Bale for £5m when in charge of Hamburg, there are plenty examples of huge missed opportunities.

Sometimes not signing a player can be worse than splashing the cash, and it is none more obvious than in these five cases.

Here are our Top 5 signings that never were…

Andriy Shevchenko to West Ham – 1994

This one has achieved somewhat of an ‘urban-myth’ status with the striker denying it happened, but if Harry Redknapp says it happened, then we believe him.

An 18-year-old Shevchenko was reportedly taken on trial at the Hammers in 1994, getting on the scoresheet in a reserve fixture against Barnet.

But with the fee determined to be too high for ‘Arry to splash out, the move was scrapped.

Well, I suppose £1m for a man who would go on to score 219 domestic career goals does seem a bit steep…

Michael Essien to Burnley – 1999

Having shone for Ghana in the Under 17 World Championship that summer, Burnley approached the young-midfielder, then available on a free transfer, about a move to Turfmoor.

Essien was reportedly keen, but a club policy put paid to what could potentially have landed the Lancashire club a gold mine.

With the club only willing to offer an apprentice wage (£60 per week) to the youngster, Essien’s request for just a minimum wage full-time contract were denied.

And as Burnley refused to budge, the now 58-capped man went and signed for Bastia going on to star at Lyon and Chelsea among others.

Didier Drogba to Arsenal – 2002

Having signed a whopping 19 players from the French league in his first 10 seasons at Arsenal, this could be one man Arsene Wenger regrets missing out on the most.

With an apparent £100k fee mooted, Wenger seemingly decided that the Ivorian wasn’t yet ready for the Premier League.

Two seasons later Drogba moved for Chelsea for the cool sum of £24m and just to rub salt in the wound went on to score a hatful of goals against the Gunners.

Zinedine Zidane to Blackburn – 1994

The 1994/95 season was one that Blackburn fans will remember fondly, with Jack Walkers millions allowing them to build a squad capable of winning the Premier League title.

It could have been so much more though, when manager Kenny Dalglish expressed an interest in signing a 22-year-old Zidane.

“Why do you want to sign Zinedine Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?” was apparently his chairman’s response.

Zinedine Zidane – He’s no Tim Sherwood

Gareth Bale to Birmingham – 2009

The Welsh star does make it onto this list, but not for his potential move to the Bundesliga.

Hopes were high for Bale when he completed a £7m move to White Hart Lane from Southampton.

But just 24 Premier League appearances in his first two seasons at Spurs got Birmingham boss Alec McLeish interested with a £3m move put on the table, and the deal apparently going very close.

That move never materialised, but as the world’s most expensive footballer continues to flourish, there are one two comments in the above article that look a bit silly now , with this peach being our favourite:

“The fact is that £3m would be a fair price. Spurs had their pants pulled down when they bought him and he’s been as big a flop as it’s possible to be”.



Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.