Frank Lampard, Edison Cavani and Roberto Carlos were all linked with a move to Aston Villa in the past.
In January of 2016, Aston Villa were on the lookout for a new goalkeeper to help curve their woeful defensive record. With Brad Guzan leaking goals for fun, Villa made a move for Hajduk Split keeper Lovre Kalinic. However, Remi Garde was left frustrated in his pursuit of the Croatian international when the Football Association turned down two appeals for a work permit.
In the same window, Villa tried to attract ex-Manchester United man Nemanja Vidic on a free transfer. The Sun reported that the Serbian was in talks about a possible move to the Midlands, following his release from Inter Milan. Despite the rumours, Vidic decided to call time on his illustrious career rather than return to the Premier League.
As debt-ridden Portsmouth looked to off-load players in the summer of 2009, Aston Villa were waiting in the wings to secure a bargain deal for defender Sylvain Distin. The Pompey favourite was subject to offers from numerous clubs but the Daily Mail reported that Villa believed they were close to wrapping up a deal. However, they were left disappointed when the Frenchman opted to join David Moyes at Everton.
Villa supporters could have been treated to the sight of Roberto Carlos bombing up and down the left-wing at Villa Park. According to The Daily Star, Chairman Doug Ellis was “fascinated” by the full-back after seeing him play for Palmeiras in 1995. But manager Brian Little was not sold on the Brazilian, who would go on to sign for Inter Milan before a career-defining spell with Real Madrid.
Fellow Brazilian star Juninho lit up the Premier League with Middlesbrough in the late 90’s. According to the BBC, he held “face to face talks” with Villa manager John Gregory about a move from Atletico Madrid in 1999. However, the deal never came to fruition and Juninho would return to English football with Boro three years later.
In 2009, the Daily Mail reported that Villa were “favourites” to sign Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder. Inter Milan and Chelsea were also linked with a move for the Holland international with the Spanish giants placing a £20 million price tag on his head. Despite rumours that Inter had decided to pursue a move for Yoann Gourcuff instead, the Italian side would end up beating Villa to Sneijder’s signature.
Two years later, Aston Villa were linked with a move for 2010/11 Football Writers’ Player of the Year Scott Parker. The tireless midfielder was in high demand following his displays for West Ham United, who had recently finished bottom of the Premier League. The Daily Mail reported that Villa launched a bid to sign Parker before the ex-Charlton player was persuaded to join Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur.
Frank Lampard is on the look-out for a new club this January, but the Chelsea legend’s career could have been very different had a move to Aston Villa gone through in 2001. The club’s finance director Mark Ansell told Sky Sports they were in discussions with Lampard about a possible move to Villa Park. However, Chelsea would swoop in and agree an £11 million deal – and the rest is history.
In 2009, Aston Villa were linked with two of the most exciting prospects in South American football. According to the Birmingham Mail, Radamel Falcao and Edison Cavani issued “come and get me” pleas to Villa boss Martin O’Neill. Despite the best efforts of the players agents, neither would end up in claret and blue, as Falcao joined Porto and Cavani signed for Napoli a year later.
This XI is rounded up by an eye-watering missed opportunity by Aston Villa. In his autobiography ‘Deadly’, Doug Ellis revealed that he had agreed a £1.2 million deal to sign Andy Cole from Bristol City. However, a failure to get in contact with manager Ron Atkinson to sign off on the deal allowed Newcastle United to hijack the move at the last moment.