A manager’s success at a football club often hinges on the signings they make in the transfer market – but occasionally it’s the players they let go that really haunt them.
Sometimes, no matter how talented a player is, a manager just can’t find a place for them in the team. Maybe they don’t suit the style of play, maybe they’re not working hard enough in training, or maybe the manager just doesn’t appreciate them.
Whatever the reasons, here are seven players who clubs almost certainly regretted selling in the long run. Hindsight truly is a wonderful thing.
“I don’t know why I love you, but I do.”
Leeds fans would have said the same back, but you probably should mention Cantona’s name in West Yorkshire any more.
The forward’s flair, style and downright brilliance rapidly made him a cult figure at Elland Road, where he played a key role in their First Division title win in 1992, but one man didn’t believe the hype.
“Eric likes to do what he likes when he likes – and then f*cks off,” Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson said.
Even so, his transfer to Manchester United came as a huge shock.
As if his 11 goals in 20 appearances so far that season weren’t enough to warn Leeds, what happened next is no secret. Eric Cantona is a name etched in Premier League history forever.
Europe’s top defender for two years running, the defensive lynchpin of three successive Premier League titles and the famous treble of 1999, and the man who steadied the ship when mainstay Peter Schmeichel retired, you would have thought it crazy to allow someone so important to leave.
However, after just three years at Manchester United, Stam was sold to Lazio for around £16million. Was it the tell-all autobiography? Was it the inconspicuous Achilles injury? Or was it just because United needed some extra cash?
The defensive colossus went on to spend five more years playing at the highest level, so nearly claiming a second Champions League title with AC Milan on that famous night in Istanbul. And United struggled to fill an unquestionably huge void.
“Jaap Stam was the one. Without a question, I made a mistake there,” Ferguson said in 2007 as he admitted the biggest error of his United career. Continue reading