Top Five High Profile Transfer Hijacks in Football History

One of the most eventful periods in football begun last week as the summer transfer window was officially open in Europe. Clubs look to improve the squad by signing players during this window. Despite the budget restrictions this summer due to the pandemic, many high-profile transfers are likely to go ahead this summer.

During the transfer window, a player transfer isn’t considered to be completed until it is officially announced or the player wearing is photographed in a new kit. Until the last moment, you can say it is sealed. Over the years, many transfer dealings have been hijacked in the most intriguing manner. Here are some of the best transfer hijack case studies.

Cristiano Ronaldo

A young 17-year old Cristiano Ronaldo was all set to leave Sporting in 2003 following an amazing debut season with the Portuguese side. Initially, Arsenal offered Sporting £4.5 million and even invited the young forward along with his mother to London to sign for the Gunners. Although things were looking positive for Arsenal it would be Manchester United who secured the signature of Ronaldo.

Manchester United managed to beat Arsenal at the last minute to sign Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United managed to beat Arsenal at the last minute to sign Cristiano Ronaldo.

Following an impressive performance against the Red Devils in a pre-season friendly Ronaldo was subject to a £12 million bid from United, which Arsenal couldn’t match at the time. Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz who was the assistant manager of United at the time played a vital role in signing him giving United their very first Portuguese player in the history of the club. It is fair to say the move paid off.


Brazil sensation and 2005 Balon d or Ronaldinho winner became a footballing icon after joining Barcelona in 2003. He was very close to sealing a move to Manchester United if it wasn’t for Barcelona president Joan Laporta. He stole the Brazilian from under Sir Alex Ferguson’s nose after missing out on David Beckham.

Barcelona managed to hijack Manchester United's move for Ronaldinho
Barcelona managed to hijack Manchester United’s move for Ronaldinho.

Ronaldinho was instrumental in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup glory with two goals and two assists in five games. United was in a pole position to sign him after offloading Beckham to Real Madrid. However, Barca vice president Sandro Rossel was good friends with the Brazilian and convinced him that his future lies at Camp Nou. PSG rejected United’s £24 million and accepted Barca’s £30 million offer. The Brazilian took the Blaugranas to the pinnacle of world football by winning the 2006 Champions League.

David Beckham

After the well-documented incident between David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson which led to a cut in the midfielder’s face, there were strong speculations that and Barcelona was working on a deal for the English midfielder in the summer of 2003. However, the Englishmen didn’t want to leave Old Trafford, and then deal with Barca was done behind his back. Sir Alex won’t discuss the details of the transfer with him and he was adamant he would only leave United for Real Madrid. However, United didn’t care about publicising their agreement with Barcelona.

Real Madrid managed to hijack Barcelona's move for David Beckham
Real Madrid managed to hijack Barcelona’s move for David Beckham.

Beckham who was on holiday quickly returned to the UK and advised his agent to arrange a meeting with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez signing a £25 million agreement to become their latest Galactico. The news was a bitter blow to the newly elected Barca President Laporta who had based his whole campaign around securing the signing of Beckham.

Alexis Sanchez

After spending more than four years with the Gunners, Alexis Sanchez wanted to leave the club to challenge for the Premier League title and play in the Champions League. Manchester City was the favourites to secure the signature after they offered a whooping £50 million for the Chilean during the summer window of 2017. However, Wenger failed to secure the signing of Thomas Lemar as the replacement, so the transfer didn’t materialise.

Manchester United hijacked Manchester City's move for Alexis Sanchez
Manchester United hijacked Manchester City’s move for Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean wanted to work again with Guardiola, so he was certain to move to Manchester City when the window opened again in January 2018. However, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had other ideas to get one over Pep and offered Sanchez to become the highest-paid player in the Premier League and sent Henrik Mkhitaryan the other way. Sanchez only managed to score five goals in 45 appearances during 18 months at Old Trafford and then eventually signed for Inter Milan where he won the Scudetto.


After enjoying a lot of success at Shakhtar Donetsk and Anzhi Makhachkala, Willian was attracting a lot of interest from Premier League in 2013. Liverpool was reportedly interested in the player, but Tottenham Hotspurs made the concrete bid and brought Willian to the club for personal terms. The Brazilian completed his medicals and looked set to feature for the North London club.


Chelsea made the move at the last minute to snatch Willian from Tottenham Hotspurs
Chelsea made the move at the last minute to snatch Willian from Tottenham Hotspurs

However, things moved quickly for Willian when he had a meeting with Chelsea after completing Spurs medical. The Brazilian winger hadn’t signed the dotted line, allowing Chelsea to swoop in and beat their London rivals for this transfer for £30 million. Willian spent six seasons at the club and played a pivotal role in the two Premier League title victories.


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