BARCELONA president Joan Laporta once revealed he rejected a £225MILLION bid from Inter Milan for Lionel Messi in 2006.
At the time, the world-record transfer fee was the £46.6m Real Madrid splashed on Zinedine Zidane in 2001.
These days, the most-expensive move is Neymar’s £198m move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.
Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, it’s almost certain we’d have seen the first £200m transfer.
But in 2006, a fee of £225m was scarcely believable, with Laporta explaining: “We rejected a €250m (£225m) offer coming from Inter in 2006.
“[Massimo] Moratti wanted to bring [Lionel Messi] to his club.”
On the back of Laporta’s incredible revelation, we’ve taken a look at nine more outrageous rejections in recent history, including Arsenal’s hilarious £40,000,001 bid for Suarez…
Real Madrid to Man City – £180m
IN 2011, Ronaldo was just two years into his glittering, trophy-laden spell at Real Madrid.
But mega-bucks City came knocking to sign the Manchester United hero with a rumoured £180m bid.
Real chief Florentino Perez swiftly told them to forget it, pointing to his apparent £900m release clause.
Ronaldo would eventually leave Real Madrid in 2018 to join Juventus for just £99m.
And of course now he is one of probably two shining lights at Manchester United after their tumultuous season.
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Man Utd to PSG – £135m
IN the summer of 2012, PSG are claimed to have tested United’s resolve with a monster bid to sign Rooney.
England’s all-time record goalscorer had already spent eight years at Old Trafford, with the French giants hoping he might fancy a new challenge.
But United turned down the potential £135m pay-day – then a world-record fee – and Rooney stayed for a further FIVE years.
Rooney went on to play for boyhood club Everton and MLS side DC United before heading to Derby where he is now manager of the crisis-hit relegated-to-League-One Rams.
PSG to Barcelona – £118m + three players
NEYMAR moved from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 for a world-record £198m fee.
But just two years later, Barcelona attempted to re-sign him – with Neymar keen to return ‘home’, as he put it.
PSG were adamant they would recoup every penny of the near-£200m they spent.
Barcelona offered a reported £118m as well as Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele, with the latter only on loan.
PSG knocked back the bid. Barcelona were hoping to try again in 2020 – only for the coronavirus pandemic to hit them hard in the pocket.
Borussia Dortmund to Man Utd – £108m
IT was arguably the biggest sport story of last summer – would he, wouldn’t he?
Man Utd made no effort to hide the fact they wanted Sancho.
Dortmund made no effort to hide the fact they wanted £108m by August 10.
Despite missing the deadline, United coolly believed they would land the England star for a cut-price fee.
It’s believed United eventually offered around £60m-70m up front, with the eventual fee rising to £108m based on incentives.
Dortmund laughed off the bid and kept their star man. But only for one more year.
Back came United in July 2021 to finally get their man for £73m cash up front.
Tottenham to Man City – £100m
Spurs fans were left stunned when captain and prolific marksman Harry Kane announced he wanted to leave the club in the summer of 2021.
It is believed his desire to win trophies had made him reach the tough decision to seek pastures new.
According to Man City boss Guardiola, his side made FOUR bids for Kane, the highest believed to be around £100m.
But Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy stood firm on his £160m valuation of his star man, and Kane remained in North London.
But with the Londoners set for ANOTHER season without a trophy, Kane could once again re-assess his future this summer.
But it won’t be City going in for him – they have completed the sensational £51m signing of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.
Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal – £81m
AUBAMEYANG smashed 39 goals for Dortmund in the 2015-16 season, leading to a mad hunt from the likes of Napoli – who had just sold Serie A record-breaker Gonzalo Higuain – and Arsenal.
The Gunners tested the German giants’ mettle with a monster £81m bid, but were knocked back.
Aubameyang went on to spend two more seasons at Dortmund, firing in a further 61 goals in 70 matches.
He then eventually did sign for Arsenal in a deal worth just £60m in 2018 – a full £21m under the 2016 offer.
These days he is tearing Spanish defences apart for Barcelona after joining the Catalans on a free transfer.
Chelsea to Atletico Madrid – £44m
IN the summer of 2017, Atletico Madrid attempted to re-sign Costa – who’d starred for them between 2007 and 2009, as well as between 2010 and 2014.
The Spaniards went as high as £44m, only for Chelsea to reject the offer.
The Blues are claimed to have wanted more time to sign a replacement and would keep Costa for another season.
Costa claimed Chelsea treated him like a ‘criminal’ by demanding such a high fee.
He eventually left six months later after being frozen out in West London.
Liverpool to Arsenal – £40,000,001
In the summer of 2013, Arsenal believed they would have superstar Suarez joining their ranks.
The Uruguayan had a clause in his contract with Liverpool that they had to inform him of any transfer bid if it was more than £40m.
Therefore Arsenal bid £1 over that figure.
Liverpool owner John W Henry famously tweeted: “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”
Arsenal’s former transfer chief Dick Law insisted Arsenal were always aware the figure was not a buy-out clause and they simply added the extra pound to kick-start negotiations.
The bid didn’t go down well, with Liverpool laughing it off before Suarez went on to enjoy a sensational season.
Partnering Daniel Sturridge and a young Raheem Sterling in attack, Suarez nearly led Liverpool to what would have then been their first-ever Premier League crown with 31 goals in 33 games.
Monaco to Man City – £36m rising to £100m
CITY are well-known for their ability to splash the big bucks to bring in established superstars.
But in 2016, the Etihad giants tried a different tack, aiming to sign then-17-year-old Mbappe from Monaco.
City are believed to have offered £36m – with the total fee eventually rising to £100m – to sign the wonderkid.
Monaco rejected the bid and – after a season on loan at the Parc des Princes – sold Mbappe to PSG for a staggering £162m in 2018.
He is now mulling over his future with the French giants, out of contract this summer and with Real Madrid desperate to snap him up.