We remember when Man Utd began the post-Fergie era by offering peanuts to two Everton stars, and when Arsenal embarrassed themselves by leaving Wilfried Zaha hanging…
Prompted by Inter Milan’s £12.4m bid for Emiliano Martinez, it made Villa laugh, here are five other bids that the clubs really shouldn’t have bothered with.
Man Utd: £28m for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini
Do you remember Man Utd’s glorious summer with Moyes and Woodward? Good times…
A decade has passed since Woodward spent his first off-season as David Gill’s successor playing as Bertie Big B*llocks. Letting it be known that he was flying back from Australia to do ‘urgent transfer business’ was a highlight. Climbing like f*ck on deadline day just to make a signing of any kind was another.
The only senior recruit was Fellaini. For a fee of £27.5m. Just a fortnight before, United had tried to sign him and one of England’s best left-backs, Leighton Baines, for almost exactly the same figure.
‘Insulting and mocking’ was how Everton described United’s £28m bid for Fellaini and Baines. Distributed, it was £16 million for the Belgian; £12 million for Baines.
Everton would hardly have broken even if Fellaini had paid Standard Liege a similar amount five years earlier. The midfielder had a £23m release clause in his contract which was active until the end of July. At the start of September, on a desperate deadline day, the Red Devils paid £4.5m more than that and £11.5m more than their original offer, just to be able to put a United scarf over Fellaini’s magnificent coiffed bonce.
Real Madrid: £27.6m and James Rodriguez for Paul Pogba
Pogba spent most of his summers at Old Trafford trying to escape. In 2019, he pushed for a move to Real Madrid. But Real clearly didn’t share his desperation to make it happen.
Pogba had already said he was ready for ‘a new challenge’ after flunking the previous one, while Mino Raiola told anyone who would listen that his client wanted to move on. United kept their word and reportedly valued their player in the region of £150m – ridiculous in itself – and they only commented to ask Real to make one when, at the start of August, while Pogba was polishing off pre-season, they received a cash-plus-player bid from the Bernabeu.
That amounted to £27.6m and Rodriguez was surplus to requirements at Real and Bayern, where he had just spent the previous two seasons on loan. Apparently Real valued Rodriguez at around £50m. A year later they gave him to Everton for free.
The offer confirmed United’s suspicions that Real did not have the funds to sign Pogba, however much the player wanted to move to Spain. They had already spent on Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo. Reports at the time suggested they would shift their attention to Donny van de Beek instead.
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Arsenal: £40m for Wilf Zaha
During the same summer that Real let Pogba hang, Arsenal did the same to Zaha.
The Gunners, under Unai Emery, were desperate for a winger and Zaha was gasping for a move. The only problem was Crystal Palace and their assessment of their academy graduate. With Zaha under contract for four more years and the sale of Aaron Wan-Bissaka already filling their bank balance, they insisted on £120m to sell.
Arsenal offered a third of that amount. And they would pay it over five years. And they would get a discount if they paid early.
Palace labeled Arsenal’s offer ’embarrassing’ and yet Zaha did not take it well, that was the end of the matter. Soon after, the Gunners paid Lille £72m for Nicolas Pepe, a decision which later prompted an internal investigation.
Man City: £36m for Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe could fetch £258m in the market this summer, just for one season in Saudi. He has already moved for around £160m after joining PSG permanently in 2018. Two years before, City tried to sign him for £36m.
In fairness to City, it was back in 2016 when Mbappe was just breaking into the Monaco side as a 17-year-old. But everyone was aware of the striker’s potential. Barcelona are said to be sniffing but City made their move towards the end of the window.
In Pep Guardiola’s first window as City boss, they offered £36 million. That wasn’t all. Apparently they promised to pay up to £100m in add-ons, perhaps inspired by the structure of Man Utd’s deal with Monaco for Anthony Martial a year earlier. Monaco would never fall for it. Not over Mbappe.
A year later, they struck a deal with PSG that guaranteed them £160m after loaning the teenager to Parisiens for a season first.
Aston Villa: £25m for James Ward-Prowse
Villa cannot complain too strongly about Inter take the p*ss over Martinez. They are not immune to trying it on themselves…
Two years ago, with Jack Grealish on the way for £100m and shortly after signing Emi Buendia from the Championship for more than £30m, the Villans went to Southampton and threw £25m on the table for Ward-Prowse.
The midfielder was an England international and captain at St Mary’s. He had four years left on his contract, so the response from Saints to a “taunting offer” was swift and abrupt.
Villa did not back down and Ward-Prowse signed a contract extension. Two years on, West Ham have seen Saints’ relegation as reason enough to take the p*ss off with the same offer from Villa, who got the briefest of frugality.
Tottenham: £50m for James Maddison and Harvey Barnes
West Ham are not the only club trying to capitalize on their rivals’ misery. Like vultures around a rotting carcass, Premier League teams like nothing more than to relegate their relegated foes.
Tottenham tried it with Leicester earlier this summer when they offered £50m for the Foxes’ two best players.
Perhaps not Daniel Levy’s most ridiculous act, but Spurs knew what they were doing and they knew it wouldn’t fly. Not long after, they coughed up £40m just for Maddison.
Barnes has subsequently joined Newcastle for £38 millionand raised £78m with relative ease.