One doomed club-record bid by each Premier League team

Inspired by Newcastle’s difficulties in landing James Maddison, here are some more failed club-record bids. Arsenal and Liverpool share theirs.


Arsenal – Thomas Lemar
The bid
: £92m
The year
: 2017
The record
: £46.5m (Alexandre Lacazette)
Who they signed instead
: No-one – they just kept Alexis Sanchez

Manchester City played silly beggars over Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez throughout the summer of 2017 until deadline day, when they lodged a bantankerous £60m bid. As is the only possible reaction, Arsenal responded with a panicked £90m offer for Thomas Lemar and pursued an unexpected British record move until it all inevitably “fell apart”.


Aston Villa – Joe Cole
The bid
: £17.5m
The year: 2008
The record: £9.5m (Juan Pablo Angel)
Who they signed instead: James Milner

‘Villa still want a marquee signing as a sign of their intent to challenge the top four, and are now the only club outside the current Champions League cartel with the cash to attract such a big name,’ reported the Sunday Mercury in August 2008. It was a simpler time.


Bournemouth – Demarai Gray
The bid: £25m
The year: 2017
The record: £20m (Nathan Ake)
Who they signed instead: No-one – they signed David Brooks a year later

Bournemouth had just finished 9th, three places above reigning champions Leicester, when they tried to tempt the Foxes into parting with Demarai Gray in the summer of 2017. It would have been the second time Eddie Howe broke his transfer record in that window, following from Nathan Ake’s arrival. But Craig Shakespeare chose to keep the winger instead.


Brentford – Brennan Johnson
The bid
: £18m
The year: 2022
The record: £13.5m (Kristoffer Ajer)
Who they signed instead: Christian Eriksen

Talks with Christian Eriksen had already commenced a week or so before Brentford lodged an improved bid for Brennan Johnson in January 2022. Nottingham Forest knocked back a series of offers from the Bees both that winter and the previous summer, with his new contract warding off any further interest.


Brighton – Nicolas Gonzalez
The bid
: £25m
The year: 2021
The record: £20m (Enock Mwepu)
Who they signed instead: No-one that summer, but centre-forward Deniz Undav joined the following January and Julio Enciso has signed this summer

“Right from the start he put this possibility in front of that of moving to the Premier League,” said Jose Titolo, agent of Nicolas Gonzalez, on the Stuttgart striker’s decision to turn down Brighton in favour of joining Fiorentina. He scored seven goals as Viola qualified for the Europa Conference League, while the Seagulls muddled through and continued to wrestle with the concept of xG.


Chelsea – Andriy Shevchenko
The bid
: £49.8m plus Hernan Crespo
The year: 2005
The record: £24m (Didier Drogba)
Who they signed instead: No-one that summer – the next centre-forward they signed was some bloke called Andriy Shevchenko a year later.

Not put off by the tamest of Champions League final penalty shoot-out efforts, Chelsea were determined to bring Andriy Shevchenko to Stamford Bridge in June 2005. But their world-record bid – and the prospect of a reported £150,000 wage – was knocked back by AC Milan, who considered the Ukrainian “unsellable” – at least for 12 more months.


Crystal Palace – Michy Batshuayi
The bid
: £31.6m
The year: 2016
The record: £10m (Yohan Cabaye)
Who they signed instead: Christian Benteke and Loic Remy

While Crystal Palace would eventually benefit from the unique stylings of Michy Batshuayi, in an alternate timeline the Belgian forward would have tripled their club-record fee instead of enjoying a couple of mildly productive spells on loan at Selhurst Park. The money was agreed with Marseille but Chelsea interjected and so Alan Pardew diverted his attention to Christian Benteke, albeit with some ludicrous clauses.


Everton – Wilfried Zaha
The bid
: £70m plus Cenk Tosun and James McCarthy
The year: 2019
The record: £45m (Gylfi Sigurdsson)
Who they signed instead: Alex Iwobi

Things escalated quickly in terms of offers from Everton for Arsenal target Wilfried Zaha in the summer of 2019. An opening gambit of £52m was shot back from whence it came by Crystal Palace, who treated the follow-up of £60m plus Cenk Tosun with similar disdain. The Toffees came back one final time with £70m, Tosun on loan and James McCarthy permanently in hand but Palace, flush with £50m from the earlier sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, stood firm. Everton ended up putting a decent wedge of that money aside for Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi.


Fulham – Dwight Gayle
The bid
: £18m
The year: 2017
The record: £12m (Kostas Mitroglou)
Who they signed instead: Yohan Mollo

Beaten in the play-off semi-final by Reading and facing a third successive season in the Championship, Fulham glanced at a list of the previous campaign’s top scorers, saw that Chris Wood (27 goals) had joined Burnley, Glenn Murray (23) went up with Brighton and Tammy Abraham (23) was back with parent club Chelsea, so landed on Dwight Gayle of Newcastle. But they fell ever so slightly short of his £20m valuation, going up regardless after borrowing Aleksandar Mitrovic from the Magpies.


Leeds – Charles De Ketelaere
The bid
: £31m
The year: 2022
The record: £27m (Rodrigo)
Who they signed instead: No-one – they had already signed Brenden Aaronson in the same position and remain in the market for other targets

Despite agreeing a fee with Club Brugge for Charles De Ketelaere, Leeds found it eminently more difficult to get the green light from the player himself. The lurking presence of AC Milan proved too much of a distraction and the 21-year-old was unveiled as the Rossoneri’s newest addition this week.


Leicester – Troy Deeney
The bid
: £25m
The year: 2016
The record: £9m (Shinji Okazaki)
Who they signed instead: Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani

The fumes of Premier League glory persuaded champions Leicester to try and compose the most p*ss-boiling strike partnership possible in 2016, with Troy Deeney eyed to play alongside Jamie Vardy, who had been linked with Arsenal. But Watford resisted overtures towards their captain and Deeney’s most memorable Leicester moment remains that stoppage-time goal after Anthony Knockaert’s penalty miss in the 2013 Championship play-off semi-final.


Liverpool – Thomas Lemar
The bid: £70m
The year: 2017
The record: £36.9m (Mo Salah)
Who they signed instead: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

In the probable words of Thomas Lemar’s agent circa August 2017: “Arsenal and Liverpool want to Dance (With U) so If There’s Any Justice you’ll get your Premier League move, but it’s 50/50 between them.” Except Liverpool ended up walking away when Monaco carried on messing around, so they moved on to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain instead. Lemar stayed in France for another year before joining Atletico Madrid.


Manchester City – Kaka
The bid: £103m
The year: 2009
The record: £32.5m (Robinho)
Who they signed instead: Craig Bellamy

“Hearing that Milan were prepared to sell me obviously made me contemplate my future there,” Kaka recalled when looking back on his potential £500,000-a-week world-record move to Manchester City in January 2009. “The negotiations went very far indeed. It came to the point where all of the numbers and the finer details had been discussed. The offer was on the table. The only thing separating City and I was my final word.” That never came from the Brazilian, who later suggested it “wasn’t quite the right time” because of “the uncertainty over the squad-building process that they were about to undertake”.


Manchester United – Thomas Muller
The bid: £88m
The year: 2015
The record: £59.7m (Angel di Maria)
Who they signed instead: Anthony Martial

Only three World Cup Golden Boot winners have plied their club trade in England. Had Manchester United manage to prise Thomas Muller from the cold, dead hands of Bayern Munich at any point from the height of their interest between 2014 and 2016, Gary Lineker, Davor Suker and Harry Kane would have had yet more esteemed company to keep.


Newcastle – James Maddison
The bid: £45m
The year: 2022
The record: £40m (Joelinton)
Who they signed instead: No-one just yet – they remain hopeful of not having to settle for an alternative

It is devastating to think that Joelinton might not be long for this world as a Premier League club’s record signing. With that said, Newcastle are finding great difficult in extracting James Maddison from Leicester, with bids of £45m and £50m both rejected for a player the Foxes are said to value at £60m.


Nottingham Forest – Djed Spence
The bid: £20m
The year: 2022
The record: £13.2m (Joao Carvalho)
Who they signed instead: Neco Williams and Giulian Biancone

Nottingham Forest did try to keep their great ex-Spence after a successful loan spell from Middlesbrough but once Tottenham – and specifically not Antonio Conte – came calling, that path became far too complicated. The promoted club spent £26m on a pair of right-backs instead, while breaking their transfer record on striker Taiwo Awoniyi.


Southampton – Quincy Promes
The bid: £25m
The year: 2018
The record: £19.1m (Guido Carrillo)
Who they signed instead: No-one – they signed Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi the following summer

Considering how well Guido Carrillo fared at St Mary’s after moving in January 2018, it is perhaps for the best that Quincy Promes kept his counsel at Spartak Moscow. Mauricio Pellegrino was not kidding when he described the market as “too difficult” but at least he had the wherewithal to walk away when a £25m bid for the winger was rebuffed.


Tottenham – Paulo Dybala
The bid: £64.4m
The year: 2019
The record: £53.7m (Tanguy Ndombele)
Who they signed instead: No-one – the next forward they signed was Steven Bergwijn the following January

After going an entire season without signing anyone whatsoever, Tottenham crammed a few windows’ worth of activity into their summer 2019 business. They signed a few first-teamers, including new record purchase Tanguy Ndombele. Club legends such as Vincent Janssen and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou were moved in the opposite direction. And for a few days or so it seemed a genuine likelihood that Paulo Dybala would be swapping Turin for north London. The biggest stumbling block was a dispute over the Argentinean’s image rights, which gave Daniel Levy ample excuse to walk away.


West Ham – Joe Allen
The bid: £25m
The year: 2018
The record: £20.7m (Marko Arnautovic)
Who they signed instead: Joao Mario

There were options here. Darwin Nunez, Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha in January alone; those players joining Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona within a matter of months underlines the perennial ambition at West Ham, the sort which tempted them into similarly record-breaking moves for Cedric Bakambu, Anthony Modeste and William Carvalho. But in January 2018, David Sullivan noted that – during an interview designed to appease a frustrated fanbase – the Hammers had a £25m bid for Stoke midfielder Joe Allen turned down. And you have to admire that honesty.


Wolves – Oleksandr Zinchenko
The bid: £16m
The year: 2018
The record: £14.9m (Rui Patricio)
Who they signed instead: Adama Traore

Manchester City had actually accepted a £16m bid from Wolves for Oleksandr Zinchenko in the summer of 2018 but the player himself thought better of it. The Ukrainian had only played 14 games under Pep Guardiola the previous season but he started as many matches in the Premier League alone in the subsequent campaign after sensing that there was a place to stay and fight for. Zinchenko, Manchester City and now Arsenal are all likely grateful for his prescience.

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