With it being at least six weeks until our next game thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, I thought I'd do an article and chose to talk about the top players that we have been linked with but never signed.
In the summer of 2004, Wayne Rooney was tipped to become England's new hero with way he'd started his career and in August 2004, we submitted a £20,000,000 bid for 18 year old despite the addition of Patrick Kluivert earlier that summer. It was rejected and reportedly caused discontent in the squad as Bobby Robson's days appeared to be numbered whilst Craig Bellamy would reportedly have considered a transfer request due to his game time being shortened. Shortly afterwards, Robson was sacked and Rooney joined Man Utd for £25,600,000.
Graham Carr got a lot of criticism towards the end of his time at the club but he had spotted the highly-rated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang whilst he was at St Etienne and showed interest in the Gabonese striker in the summer of 2013, a year after playing at Northern League club Heaton Stannington's ground ahead of the 2012 Olympics. In an interview in 2016, he claimed that we offered him a higher wage than Borussia Dortmund but Jurgen Klopp had led them to two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup title and a Champions League final since joining them in 2008 so he chose them over us. I think he would've been a better option than Loic Remy (especially if we bought him) but he would've probably had to have been more clinical with his chances, given our team, compared to Dortmund and then eventually, Arsenal.
Towards the end of the 2007-08 season, Luka Modrić was a top transfer target for Kevin Keegan and despite his agent (who was a fan of his) telling him he was confident he'd be joining Tottenham, he persuaded him to come to Newcastle and see if he was interested in joining us instead. We gave the Croatian a tour of our training ground and it seemed like we'd be signing him only for Tony Jimenez to pull the plug by claiming he wasn't ready for the Premier League. Shortly afterwards, he signed for Spurs but whilst he'd have been written off early on by our fans (especially if social media was popular) after a slow start, Harry Redknapp's appointment changed his career (as well as Gareth Bale's) and in typical fashion, his first Premier League goal came at St James' Park (but we did beat them 2-1 to be fair). Eventually, after an injury hit 2009-10 season, he really kicked on and earned a move to Real Madrid in August 2012 for twice the money he joined Spurs for and as well as four Champions League and one La Liga title, he also won the player of the tournament as Croatia finished runner-ups in the 2018 World Cup and the best men's player of the year award two months later.
Another one from the summer of 2008, Bastian Schweinsteiger was seen as James Milner's replacement after the board accepted a £12,000,000 offer from Aston Villa, despite Keegan wanting to keep the future England international. Keegan's assistant, Terry McDermott, revealed in his 2017 autobiography that when the offer was accepted, the board suggested signing Schweinsteiger and Kevin agreed we had to give it a go but when he rang up Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former West Germany international admitted he couldn't stop laughing after the board only offered a pathetic €5,000,000 and claimed that even €50,000,000 wouldn't be enough to sign Schweinsteiger. Eventually, the midfielder brought in was Ignacio Gonzalez, who was only signed because Dennis Wise was impressed by him on YouTube, this (and the signing of Xisco) was against Keegan's wishes and despite meeting the board in a desperate attempt to sort things out, he walked out. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger continued to win trophy after trophy with Bayern Munich and was seen as a "football god" by the Bayern fans and how we thought we could sign him is anyone's guess.
Zinedine Zidane I think it's commonly known that when Blackburn were interested in signing Bordeaux midfielder Zinedine Zidane in 1995, owner Jack Walker questioned why manager Kenny Dalglish wanted to sign him when they had Tim Sherwood. He was also offered to us for £1,200,000 but someone from the club had watched him play and claimed that he wasn't good enough for Division One, within a year, he won the Ligue 1 player of the year and then signed for Juventus before a world record £46,600,000 move to Real Madrid in 2001, where his amazing volley sealed them the Champions League title in his first season as he become a Los Blancos legend in his five years in the Spanish capital. Safe to say that rejecting him wasn't the finest moment for whoever was scouting him at the time.
This has been talked about in the past and when the fact we didn't sign Mohamed Salah on a season long loan in June 2011 was talked about, our fans talked as if the Salah of now could've been our's. The Egyptian claimed that we were about to make an offer for him but many reports have suggested we weren't willing to pay the £500,000 loan fee, at the time, had we gone through with it before seeing him do well in his first season, destroying teams alongside Hatem Ben Arfa before potentially signing permanently, he would've likely ended up leaving and getting better coaching as Alan Pardew hasn't been the biggest fan of flair players.
In 2002, it was reported that Bobby Robson wanted Rivaldo and he claimed he would be our player in a matter of weeks but after winning that summer's World Cup with Brazil, he joined AC Milan and we probably dodged a bullet as he only netted five goals in twenty-two Serie A games before being released in September 2003.
Eight years after scoring a consolation in Barcelona's 3-2 defeat at St James' Park, Luis Figo was in talks to join us as his contract with Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid expired. The stumbling block in this deal was the 32 year-old wanting £90,000 a week, we did end up signing Michael Owen and giving him a bigger salary later that summer but we were signing a 25 year-old who had a superb career for Liverpool before things didn't work out for him in Madrid in a deal that was ambitious but turned out to be a big mistake. Figo's peak years were also behind him as he only scored nine