With Real Madrid having failed to secure the services of David De Gea, we look at the 10 other outfield players they missed out on signing.
1 – Thiago Silva
The PSG captain is hailed as one of the greatest defenders of his generation and was widely considered the best for a long time during his stay at AC Milan.
Mourinho, the then manager of Real Madrid in 2009, tried to sign Silva but he chose to stay at AC Milan instead.
“It was my wife who said no to Madrid,” Thiago Silva was quoted saying at the time. “She prefers Milan to Madrid. I like Milan too and so does my son.”
2 – Paolo Maldini
Maldini spent his entire career at AC Milan, winning the European Cup at the age of 39 years in 2007. However, the legendary defender said that the only team he would have liked to play for other than Milan was Real Madrid. That is, if they had made an offer, which the Italian is not sure was made.
He said: “The only club in the world where I could have found the same tradition and ambition as Milan is Real Madrid, but they never contacted me.
“Perhaps last year they did, but I was already a 34-year-old.”
3 – Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand spent the majority of his best years at Manchester United. The English centre-back recently admitted that he was approached by several big clubs during his United days, including a certain Real Madrid.
He said: “I spoke to Roma and also there was interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona at one time.
“But when I was at Manchester United and there was interest from other clubs I was winning things at Manchester United. So my head was never turned to go anywhere else.”
4 – Patrick Vieira
In 2004, Patrick Vieira was one of the best midfielders in the world. The midfielder had just gone unbeaten for the whole season as Arsenal were crowned the champions of England.
Real Madrid’s sporting director Emiliano Butragueno, had confirmed a move for Vieira which never came to a conclusion for unknown reasons.
He had then said : “Patrick Vieira is a very interesting and important player for us and for our club.
“Such a process is a long one but I believe that this coming week will be a significant one with regard to our move for him.”
5 – Steven Gerrard
Gerrard had several opportunities to join Real Madrid, and not just the one time when Jose Mourinho courted him. The player however, decided to stay back and spend his best playing days at Anfield.
a It is very flattering to be linked to a huge club like Madrid,” Gerrard admitted . “I have had options throughout my career to go to Real Madrid, but I resisted the temptation to stay with my home town club.
a I may regret at the end of my career not going to experiencing a different scenery, but I would have had bigger regret leaving Liverpool.”
6 – Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo revealed in his autobiography that he was close to joining Real Madrid after Italy won the 2006 World Cup. Capello was the Madrid manager and he was keen to bring the Italian to the club.
Pirlo writes in his book: “I was a Madrid player in my head, my heart and my soul.
“I had a five-year contract sitting waiting, and a salary that was out of this world.”
7 – Roy Keane
Roy Keane had a rather infamous bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United that saw his Old Trafford stay being cut off rather early. Keane revealed that he had had an offer from Real Madrid at the time, but did not sign up for them as he feared he would have become a bit-part player there, as per excerpts from his autobiography.
“[I’d been given] a heads-up that Emilio Butragueno would be phoning, so I took my mobile phone everywhere with me.
“And – how’s your luck – he rang me while I was sitting on the toilet.
“He said: ‘Look Roy, we’ll be glad to have you.’ The club’s board just had to sanction the deal.
“I should have appreciated Real’s offer more. It was the most attractive challenge in front of me but I didn’t accept it.
“In hindsight, I should have said to myself: ‘Go, go to Spain, live there for a year and a half, learn the language, learn the culture.'”
8 – Luis Suarez
Suarez signed for FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014 from Liverpool FC. However, the feisty Uruguayan revealed that he had an offer to go to Real Madrid, but his heart was set on a move to Barcelona.
Suarez said, “Real Madrid were very interested in me, but my dream was always to play for Barca. When I heard the name ‘Barcelona,’ I didn’t hesitate for a moment.”
9 – Neymar Jr.
The Brazil captain had a trial at Real Madrid when he was just 14 years of age. However, Real chose to not sign him at the time for reasons best known to them. A document uncovered by Spanish media outlet AS proved that the attacker was indeed on trial with Real. He was not signed by Real, as per AS, owing to the club not deeming him worthy of the 60,000 Euro fee needed to sign him.
10 – Francesco Totti
Totti was accused of signing a contract at AS Roma because of the finances on offer in 2011. Lashing out on such suggestions, Totti revealed at the time that he could have got a lot more money if he had decided to take up the offers from Barcelona or Real Madrid when he was 26 years of age.
He said: “I want to point out that this is a valuable contract, but I never thought about money, otherwise I would have left aged 26 when Real Madrid and Barcelona wanted me.
“I would’ve earned double what I am picking up now. I always wanted to make my career with the Giallorossi jersey and nobody will ever again refuse the money I did from Madrid and Barcelona.”