Formerly the wordld’s richest footballer, the idea of signing him now seems ridiculous – but it did nearly happen. When Eto’o was at Mallorca he attracted enough interest from Alex McLeish that the manager actually spoke about the player publicly.
Amazingly, McLeish actually played down the speculation, despite the club having watched the player several times, impressing assistant Andy Watson.
McLeish told Rangers’ official website:
“Samuel Eto’o is a player I like, but there are a lot of players out there that I like.
“There were a number of excellent players on show in the Cameroon-Argentina game which Andy watched, including Marc-Vivien Foe, who is a midfield player. There are a lot of players out there who we would love to bring to Rangers, but we will do it when the time is right.”
2) Robin van Persie.
When the Fenerbache striker was a teenager, he was desperate to join Rangers. Compatriot Dick Advocaat was the director of football at Ibrox and approached RVP about bringing him to Glasgow from Feyenoord, but they didn’t manage to get the deal over the line.
As Van Persie himself confirmed himself:
“There was some interest from Rangers when I was at Feyenoord. The problem for me was they didn’t come in and make an offer. I was quite interested because I really wanted to leave my club… When I heard about their interest, I sat by the phone hoping it would ring.
“I was in a difficult situation at my club and desperate to leave. Advocaat told me he needed to sell some players before he could buy. That’s why it dragged on and did not happen.”
It’s guessed that we missed out on the opportunity to sign the striker after being unable to get rid of some players to finance the deal, letting one of Europe’s hottest talents slip through our fingers.
3) Ronaldo (The Brazilain One)
Ahead of 1998 World Cup finals, Brazilian superstar Ronaldo almost ended up playing in Scotland instead of Italy. The player confirmed that he was offered a multi-million pound deal to join from Barcelona, but that he preferred to sign for Inter Milan instead. Speaking to Scotsport Extra Time in 1998, he said:
“Yes, it’s true, I received an offer from Glasgow Rangers and we looked at it and decided that the best offer at that time was from Inter Milan.
“I said my apologies to all the other interested parties and said Inter was my choice.”
Apparently David Murray and Nike were working together to bring him in, looking to use the Player to market their brand. The deal we supposedly offered was a two-year contract with a clause to get out after just 12 months.
Nike moved the goalposts and Ronaldo went to Italy instead.
4) Alan Shearer
Walter Smith confirmed that signing England’s goalscoring legend was almost a possibility when the player was at Southampton.
Graeme Souness, who would later work with Shearer had wanted to sign him when he was in charge of Rangers, and when Smith took over, the link stayed alive.
5) Andres Iniesta
In Graham Hunter’s book, Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World, it’s confirmed that early on in his career at Barcelona, Andres Iniesta was the subject of a loan bid from Rangers.Aafter discussing a move for another player (Messi), Barca assistant manager Henk Ten Cate suggested they should sign Iniesta instead.
“I think his exact words were, ‘This boy is going to be a world beater’, which he proved against the Netherlands in South Africa. Henk told us that Iniesta ‘sees the picture in front of him’, earlier than anyone and that he’s got a great pass and an ability to beat people.
“Eventually we made a formal enquiry; I think it would have been towards the end of the 2004-05 season… Then Iniesta scored in a big pre-season game which meant that the club couldn’t really loan him out without losing face.”
6) Lionel Messi
Alex McLeish’s adventurous approach to transfers almost led to the temporary acquisition of one of the world’s greatest modern players.Graham Hunter’s Barca book again confirms how Rangers almost pulled off the stunning transfer.
“Ten Cate and Jan Wouters had chats about us taking Messi on loan, but the guidance from Henk was that he was probably too young and possibly too slight to get benefit from Scottish football. Our view was that Barca were probably hedging their bets at the time. Even then, they knew how good he was and they must have thought that letting him go to British football might be a risk because of the tough tackling and the physicality, but they were also obviously unsure about how quickly he might actually make the Barca first team. We caught them just in the middle of that process of working out what they wanted to do with Messi, but during the discussions Henk said to Jan that we should do ourselves a favour and take Iniesta on loan instead.”
The concerns of the physical nature of the league meant Rangers missed out on the chance of a phenomenal season with Argentinian at the head of their attack.
Read More about how the Barca legends nearly ended up at Ibrox HERE.
Perhaps the most famous case of missed opportunity is Mario Jardel, who almost signed for Rangers on four separate occasions. The first potential move came around in 1996, when a move was agreed from Gremio. He met with the team and the club’s fans, but the deal fell apart as he was refused a Portuguese passport that would have allowed the club to get round their full non-EU quota.
Jardel was granted his EU passport a year later and wanted the move, but Walter Smith decided to buy Marco Negri instead. Jardel was again offered in 2001, having scored 22 goals in 24 games for Galatasaray, but we decided to buy Tore Andre Flo from Chelsea instead.
After scoring 53 goals in 49 games for Sporting Lisbon, he was offered to us for a fourth time but we couldn’t afford him.
8) Dennis Bergkamp
One of the most naturally gifted players in the history of the Premier League almost never made it to North London, where he would go on to become an Arsenal legend.
If stories are true, then it’s believed that the Dutchman was on the verge of a move to Glasgow instead of the gunners. The club reportedly had the player staying at Loch Lomond hotel, and showed him around the stadium and Glasgow, convinced he was close to agreeing to the move.