5 longest running transfer sagas in football history

It’s a fact of football life that players will move clubs during their careers, often more than once. Sometimes there’s a quick agreement on all sides and the deal sails through without a problem, but occasionally, for a variety of reasons, a transfer deal will hit a roadblock.

Negotiations then become protracted and seemingly take an age to conclude. Below are five transfers that took a year or more to get over the line which shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

5. Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea – 1.5 years)

Arsenal were unlucky to be involved a few years beforehand when another wantaway star, Ashley Cole, was caught meeting with Jose Mourinho behind the Gunners’ backs.

Cole and Chelsea were fined, and the outcome of the media backlash regarding a supposed £55,000 per week deal saw him labelled as ‘Cashley.’

That all happened in January 2005 but it was the summer of 2006 before Cole eventually got his wish.

As he trundled off to Stamford Bridge, William Gallas made the reverse journey.

4. Robin Van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United – 1.5 years)

Robin van Persie was incandescent that after playing the fullest part in keeping Arsenal as successful as possible at the latter part of the last decade, they had failed to renew his contract by the summer of 2011.

All sorts of theories were debated in the media, some ending up being more accurate than others.

The Dutchman was still a very, very good player and at almost 28, arguably still in his pomp.

Though the Gunners hung on to him that summer, there was never any doubt he would up sticks, and a year later he signed for Manchester United, enjoying a renaissance which included one of the greatest volleys the Premier League has ever seen.

3. Paul Gascoigne (Tottenham Hotspur to Lazio – 1.5 years)

We all tend to forget just how good Paul Gascoigne was as a footballer.

As natural a player that has ever played the game, he agreed to join Lazio for the start of the 1991/92 season. Italian football was thriving, as was ‘Gazza,’ still basking in the afterglow of the 1990 World Cup.

His last game before leaving for Rome was the 1991 FA Cup final against Nottingham Forest. It was immediately apparent that Tottenham’s finest was like a man possessed and had already been throwing himself into challenges before the one which would put paid to his move for over a year.

A wild swipe at Gary Charles saw him suffer a potentially career-ending cruciate ligament injury, and one which saw him miss the following campaign.

Fortunately for him, Lazio were still interested enough some 13 months later to make him their marquee signing.

2. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal to Barcelona – 2.5 years)

Having spent his professional career at Arsenal, having left boyhood club Barcelona in search of regular minutes, when the chance came for Cesc Fabregas to return to the Camp Nou, he jumped at it.

Though it was done in jest, Pepe Reina placing a Barcelona shirt on the player in the wake of Spain’s World Cup win in 2010 didn’t go down well in north London.

Perhaps more embarrassing was the fact that the move was an open secret but that it took a year for the Catalans to make their move.

By the time he did leave, Arsenal supporters were glad to see the back of a player who had helped define an era.

1. Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV to Manchester United – 3 years)

Sir Alex Ferguson was always partial to Dutch talent, and as strikers go, Ruud van Nistelrooy was right up there with the very best.

It would be 2001 when he finally signed for the Red Devils, but he’d first been noticed back in 1998 by the manager’s son during a trial at Heerenveen.

Had United signed him on the strength of that recommendation, they would’ve saved themselves in the region of £15m, and as it was, the club then had to pay PSV another £500,000 on top after another year’s delay whilst the player recovered from a knee concern.

Given how successful he was at Old Trafford, Ferguson will surely concede that it was money well spent.