The Best Football Signing Mix-Ups!
With news emerging yesterday that Manchester United once had an option to sign Colombia’s World Cup sensation James Rodriguez for £5 million, but plumped for Bebe instead, we look at several other cases where clubs have apparently signed the wrong players.
While these stories have never been confirmed, their enduring nature, combined with the signed players’ subsequent performances, hint at some truth in the rumours.
The Cort Case
Legend has it that the late Sir Bobby Robson wasn’t great with names. When asked in an interview what the then Newcasle United boss called him, Shola Ameobi once replied “Carl Cort”. So it’s no surprise that the former England boss is at the centre of one of the most infamous of transfer mix-up stories, also involving Cort.
Robson had apparently been impressed by a talented young England Under-21 striker at Wimbledon and sent his scouts to run the rule over him. The player in question was Jason Euell, who unfortunately in the game scouted, was pushed back to midfield with Cort taking his place up-front.
Wimbledon were shocked to receive a £7 million bid for Cort, who’d scored just 16 goals in 70 appearances. After a poor return of seven goals in four years at The Toon, it was evident that Sir Bobby had possibly signed the wrong player.
The Italian Botch-Job?
While no-one has actually admitted making a mistake in signing Luther Blissett for AC Milan, the rumour persists in Italy over 30 years later that the club had in fact meant to sign Blissett’s Watford team-mate John Barnes.
Blissett had a torrid single season at Milan, scoring just five goals in 30 appearances and bemoaning that in Italy “no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy Rice Crispies”. The AC Milan owner and president at the time, Giuseppe Farina, never denied the story but did concede that Blissett had been recommended to him by a London gardener.
The Not So Great Dane
David Moyes was roundly criticised for his part in Manchester United’s farcical transfer window last summer. As Everton manager he did have some transfer market success but also a number of stinkers – most notaby Per Kroldrup.
The story goes that Moyes signed the Danish defender without ever seeing him play, relying instead on his scouting network’s reports on the Udinese centre-back – which may have been for his centre-back partner at Bianconeri.
The Italian club couldn’t believe their luck when a £5.1 million bid was lodged and the player was quickly on his way to Goodison Park. It soon became apparent in training that Kroldrup was not of Premier League standard and his debut was delayed for three months due to an alleged injury problem.
However, it was in his maiden match at Aston Villa that Kroldrup’s limitations were exposed, where he enjoyed a torrid baptism of fire in a 4:0 hammering. He never played again for The Toffees, jettisoned back to Italy after six months on Merseyside for a fraction of his initial transfer fee.