5 of the weirdest transfer rumors in the last five years


Football transfers make for juicy gossip. Fans and media outlets wait for the two transfer windows to commence so they can spin and spread rumors which make for engaging talks. Often, transfer rumors start flying before the window even begins.

Sometimes, the rumors are absolutely absurd. So much so that you may not even believe them at first sight, but anything is possible in football. We have seen Kevin-Prince Boateng and Paulinho play for Barcelona, and those are just two examples.

This article will take a look at the five weirdest transfer rumors in the last five years that did not come true. While these transfers may not have happened, it is always amusing to sit back and think: “What if…?”

1. Peter Crouch to Chelsea, 2018

Peter Crouch was linked with a transfer to Chelsea late in his career
Peter Crouch was linked with a transfer to Chelsea late in his career

Antonio Conte infamously fell-out with his lead striker Diego Costa after winning the league with Chelsea in 2017. Frozen out of the squad, Costa ultimately departed in January 2018. Fellow strikers Michy Batshuayi, Dominic Solanke, and Loic Remy were also shown the exit.

As things stood in January 2018, Conte was left with Alvaro Morata as his only natural striker. Chelsea were on the hunt for backup strikers, and one name inexplicably linked was then 36-year-old Peter Crouch.

The lanky striker was in the final leg of his career at Stoke City and had only three league goals to his name until January.

The BBC reported that Andy Carroll was the Blues’ first choice, but a move was scuppered when he suffered an ankle injury. Carroll, in itself, was an odd choice, but Crouch was pretty much inexplicable.

The veteran would’ve entered the final season of his career in the 2018-19 season. So, it was weird to see a top European club like Chelsea being linked to him.

To make it even weirder, had the Blues signed Crouch, he would not have been able to play in domestic cups for them as he had already appeared for Stoke in those competitions. Chelsea ultimately signed Olivier Giroud for £18 million from Arsenal.

Should never be forgotten this man was signed at the end of a transfer window in which Chelsea had earlier been interested in Andy Carroll, 36-year-old Peter Crouch and Ashley Barnes. Proved so important at so many times under different coaches. Deserved the success he enjoyed twitter.com/_OlivierGiroud…

2. Mario Mandzukic to ATK Mohun Bagan, 2021

Mandzukic's transfer rumors will remain a mystery
Mandzukic’s transfer rumors will remain a mystery

In June 2021, ATKMB secured the signing of Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko, who had featured in the recently concluded Euros. It wasn’t long before the Mariners were back with an even more audacious approach.

While his stock in Europe had significantly fallen after a short ill-fated spell at AC Milan, Mario Mandzukic was still a reputable name in world football. A report from Croatian outlet HRT first suggested that ATKMB had approached the Croat and he was “looking forward to the opportunity to play in India”.

Multiple outlets picked up the news, including reputable ones like 90Min. Fans were brimming with excitement but the move never happened. ATKMB were said to be priced out of the transfer, but reputed Indian journalist Marcus Mergulhao reported that an approach was never made.

Since so many have asked, and there is some confusion too, let me clear this one. Mario Mandzukic is NOT headed to ATK Mohun Bagan. There’s no approach at all. I really don’t know how this rumour gathered so much pace.#Indianfootball #ISL #Transfers

Whatever the truth may be, the links appeared weird because neither party would have gained much. Mandzukic was way past his prime and wouldn’t have been impactful while ATKMB could not hold a candle to the riches Mandzukic had seen in Qatar and top European leagues.

However, it would have been a watershed moment to have a player of Mandzukic’s stature playing in the ISL. He announced his retirement from all football in September 2021. ATKMB eventually signed Hugo Boumous from Mumbai City FC in an ISL record transfer.

3. Carlos Tevez to Manchester United, 2020

Having let go of Romelu Lukaku without getting a replacement, Manchester United’s need for attacking options became even more dire when Marcus Rashford was sidelined due to injury.

In the January 2020 window, a certain Bruno Fernandes arrived, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted a striker to complement his signing.

The Red Devils had two bids for Bournemouth’s Josh King rejected. They were now looking at short-term options to last until the end of the season before making a more permanent purchase in the summer window.

With names flying around, one name in particular stood out as extremely off-place. Manchester United were linked with Carlos Tevez, who would have turned 36 that February.

11 years after leaving Old Trafford, Manchester United are reportedly considering a loan move for Carlos Tevez. 👀The club describe him as “a low cost solution” to replace the injured Marcus Rashford. 📝 sportbible.com/football/react…

The Argentine, who played for United for two years from 2007-09, was in the final six months of his contract at Boca Juniors. Italian outlet Tuttosport first reported this, and many reliable sources like The Daily Mail picked it up. It was reported that United see Tevez as an experienced, low-cost short-term loan solution.

The transfer, obviously, did not come to fruition and United eventually signed Odion Ighalo for their short-term fix.

4. Maarten Stekelenburg to Real Madrid, 2019

The veteran Dutch custodian was linked with a shocking transfer in his twilight years
The veteran Dutch custodian was linked with a shocking transfer in his twilight years

Keylor Navas lost his starting spot to Thibaut Courtois, so it was understandable he wanted to leave in search of first-team football in the summer of 2019.

Paris Saint-Germain were the front-runners for his signature as they hunted for a Gianluigi Buffon replacement. Real Madrid had to look for a replacement of their own as Navas looked likely to be heading for the exit.

Los Blancos were inexplicably linked to 36-year-old Everton third-choice stopper Maarten Stekelenburg. First reported by Football Insider, the rumors spread fast.

He was signed to the Toffees as cover for Jordan Pickford and Jonas Lossl, making it even more inexplicable that Real Madrid wanted his services, even if just as a backup to Courtois.

The then 36-year-old would have, agreeably, brought with him a ton of experience and would have been extremely budget friendly. Pepe Reina was also another name linked during the same time.

Ultimately, Real Madrid agreed to a part-swap transfer with PSG, which saw Navas go to Paris and Alphonse Areola come to Madrid on a season-long loan. The Frenchman did backup-keeping duties for the Whites that season.

5. Sam Allardyce as India Head Coach, 2019

While not a transfer rumor per se, the links were too surprising to not be mentioned
While not a transfer rumor per se, the links were too surprising to not be mentioned

Stephen Constantine was sacked from the Indian football team’s head coach position in January 2019 after finishing bottom of the AFC Asian Cup group. The AIFF invited applications for the vacancy and the most surprising name was reported to be Premier League cult hero Sam Allardyce.

“Big Sam” had last held an international job in 2016 when he was appointed manager of the England national team. However, he left by mutual consent after only one match and 67 days in charge, following a sting operation that brought forth allegations of corruption and malpractice (as per the BBC).

The India job was reportedly his attempt at making a comeback to international coaching. The first major outlet to pick up this news was the Mirror, and the rumors spread like wildfire across India, especially after a big publication like Sportstar picked it up.

Another big name in the pile was that of Swedish manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who had previously managed the likes of Benfica, Manchester City, and the England team as well.

However, neither of these big names worked out. Allardyce reportedly did not turn in a duly-filled application form before the due date. The job ultimately went to Croatian Igor Stimac.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat

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