Petit's detour to Arsenal to Ronaldo's homecoming - 10 biggest transfer hijacks of all-time

Emmanuel Petit, Cristiano RonaldoGetty Images

Transfer windows are considered one of the most exciting periods for a football fan as they eagerly wait to see whom their favourite club sign, in order to strengthen their roster.

In modern football, a club needs to cross several hurdles before it can actually make a player sign the dotted lines and most of them leave no stones unturned to rope in their desired footballer.

But there have been several instances in the past that a club went made progress with negotiations with a particular player but ultimately at the eleventh hour, another club swooped and hijacked the transfer.

From Cristiano Ronaldo to Alexis Sanchez, some of the big names have had such experiences in their career when they were supposed to sign for a particular club but eventually ended up at another.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2021-22 GFXGetty/GOAL

    Cristiano Ronaldo

    The Portuguese star was very close to joining Manchester City in the summer of 2021 after leaving Juventus. The club and the player were in advance talks over a possible transfer to Etihad but their rivals Manchester United swooped in at the last moment and brought back their superstar home. It was reported that his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson and former teammate Rio Ferdinand played a crucial role in Ronaldo's homecoming last season.

  • Alfredo Di Stefano Real Madrid 1962Getty Images

    Alfredo Di Stefano

    Did you know that the legendary Real Madrid forward Alfredo Di Stefano had initially joined their rivals FC Barcelona in 1953 and had even played pre-season for the Catalan giants. But the Spanish Football Association later intervened and blocked the transfer of the forward over issues related to his registration rights. Real Madrid took advantage of the situation and negotiated with Stefano's club Millonarios and eventually signed the player. He went on to win five Champions League and eight LaLiga titles with Los Blancos.

  • Robinho City


    Brazilian star Robinho was all set to join Chelsea from Real Madrid in the summer of 2008. The player himself had stated earlier that he was looking to playing for Chelsea.

    "The situation has not changed, I want to leave Real and play for Chelsea," the striker had said. Chelsea even started to sell Robinho's jerseys. However, Manchester City, flush with cash after their takeover, swooped in at the very last minute and managed to sign him, much to the shock of Chelsea.

  • Willian Lee Cattermole  Sunderland v Chelsea League Cup Quarter-Final 12172013Getty Images


    Former Chelsea winger Willian was very close to sign for Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. He had even undergone a medical with the club but then Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich entered the race at the very last moment, used his contacts in Russia and eventually hijached the move from Spurs and roped in the Brazilian from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.

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    Emmanuel Petit

    Former French international Emmanuel Petit had travelled to London in 1997 ahead of a move to Tottenham Hotspur. He had a meeting with the then Spurs chairman Alan Sugar where he was offered the contract. He had sought some time to make his decision and headed back to his hotel in a cab paid for by the North London club.

    On his way back, Petit heard about Arsenal's interest in him and took a detour to Arsene Wenger's home and signed for the Gunners.

  • 2018-01-27 Alexis Sanchez Manchester UnitedGetty Images

    Alexis Sanchez

    After spending four seasons at Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez decided to part ways with the club in January 2018. And Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola had shown interest in signing the player. City had held talks with Arsenal over a possible transfer but at the last moment, their rivals Manchester United joined the race and eventually signed the player in a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners.

  • Roy Keane Manchester UnitedGetty Images

    Roy Keane

    The story of former Manchester United captain and club legend Roy Keane would have been different had Blackburn Rovers managed to sign the Irish midfielder. In 1993, after Nottingham Forest got relegated, Roy Keane decided to leave the club and Blackburn Rovers was his desired destination. The then club manager Kenny Dalglish was keen to get the player's signature as soon as possible but due to a technical issue, it got delayed by a few days. Taking advantage of the delay, Sir Alex Ferguson entered the scene and convinced Keane to join the Red Devils. Rest, as they say, was history!

  • Paul Gascoigne | TottenhamGetty

    Paul Gascoigne

    The former England football star Paul Gascoigne could have played for Manchester United as he was very close to signing for the Red Devils in 1988 after a discussion with Sir Alex Ferguson. Gascoigne had apparently given Ferguson a verbal assurance of him joining the Manchester club but eventually ended signing for Spurs after the North London side offered him a better deal.

  • Jorginho(C)Getty Images


    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has openly confessed his admiration for former Napoli and current Chelsea midfielder Jorginho and had suggested that the Cityzens were very close to signing the player in 2018. Napoli and Manchester City had apparently held talks even before the 2017/18 season ended. But Chelsea entered the race during the summer transfer window of 2018 and eventually managed to hijack the deal which saw the Italian international joining the Blues.

  • malcom barcelonaBarcelona Twitter


    Former Bordeaux attacker Malcom had almost signed for Serie A side AS Roma in the summer of 2018. A deal was agreed with the Ligue 1 side and apparently, Roma fans were waiting at the airport to welcome the Brazilian but Barcelona entered the race in the final moments, offered Bordeaux a better deal and hijacked the transfer move.