Special feature: Carlos, Bale, and Falcao – the big Midlands transfers that got away
Roberto Carlos, one of the greatest left backs of all-time, recently revealed that he almost signed for Birmingham City when Barry Fry was in charge back in 1995.
But here in the Midlands there’s been plenty of ‘near misses’ when it comes to signing superstars in the past.
Alex McLeish famously missed out on the world’s previous most expensive player Gareth Bale in the 2008/09 season when he tried to sign him on loan from Tottenham.
The Welsh wizard was struggling at Spurs and the only reason boss Harry Redknapp refused to let him leave was because of a spate of injuries in the squad.
Blues have failed in a series of attempts to land other big-name stars in the past, too.
Ryan Babel, Moussa Dembele, Charles N’Zogbia and Roman Pavlyuchenko all slipped through the net back during the McLeish days.
Wolves came to fully embrace the term ‘what could have been’ back in 1981.
Boss John Barnwell tried to sign young French midfielder Michel Platini and Poland’s rising star Zbigniew Boniek.
Sadly, Wolves’ ambitious plans were ended by circumstances beyond their control. Saint-Etienne’s Platini suffered an ankle injury just as Wolves prepared to finalise the deal, while the outbreak of Martial Law in Poland prevented Widzew Lodz’s attacking midfielder Boniek from leaving the country.
Within one year the duo signed for Juventus, helping the Turin club to the 1985 European Cup – with Platini claiming the Ballon d’Or three times and Boniek also being shortlisted.
Also towards the end of the entertaining Barnwell era, Wolves had both Rene van der Kerkhof and Ally McCoist training with them ahead of potential big-money deals.
The 30-year-old Dutch midfielder had played for his country at the 1976 and 1980 Euros as well as being a beaten World Cup finalist in between.
A £325,000 move was on the cards but the deal was thought to have broken down because of concerns over the player’s fitness.
Teenager McCoist was also close to completing a £350,000 move to Wolves from St Johnstone only for Sunderland to get in first.
The 18-year-old had scored 23 goals the previous season and after spending a few days at the club, Barnwell even confirmed to reporters that he expected the switch to go through, before they missed out.
Albion have failed in a number of audacious bids too.
In March 2002 they tried to sign David Ginola from Everton.
The French winger was unsettled at Goodison Park and Baggies boss Gary Megson saw the 35-year-old as an ideal boost to help his promotion-chasing side reach the Premier League.
Paul Gascoigne had just moved to Burnley and new Everton boss David Moyes had told Ginola he could leave.
Sadly for Albion the silky-skilled star didn’t fancy the switch to The Hawthorns.
When the Baggies were promoted more big-name players were linked with the club.
First it was Valencia forward John Carew who quickly spoke out by saying that the approach was ‘the most stupid thing I’ve heard’.
Then ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid forward Saviola was on the wanted list. The Argetine forward never got close to a move to the Midlands.
Megson also missed out on Sylvain Wiltord in the summer of 2004.
An approach was made but the ex-Arsenal striker wanted to continue playing in the Champions League.
The most recent out-of-the-ordinary pursuit was when Roy Hodgson tracked Owen Hargreaves in 2011.
The ex-Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder turned down the move in favour of a switch to Manchester City. He played just one Premier League game.
One player that Villa got extremely close to signing was Brazilian Juninho in 1999.
A club record transfer fee was discussed for the Atletico Madrid midfielder who had previously lit up the Premier League while playing at Middlesborough.
The player was even quoted as saying that he wanted to join while his agent at the time was touting Villa as the perfect club.
It never progressed and Villa missed out.
Another shock transfer which almost happened involved one of the world’s current best strikers.
In 2008, Villa manager Martin O’Neill was offered a little-known Colombian prospect by the name of Radamel Falcao for a fee reportedly around £5M, but he chose to sign Wigan Athletic’s Emile Heskey instead.
The Birmingham Mail also once reported that Villa once wanted legendary German defender Franz Beckenbauer as their manager.