Luis Figo has reflected on the collapse of a proposed move from Real Madrid to Liverpool in 2005, the Portuguese legend having felt he was “messed with.”
The summer of 2005 saw Liverpool riding high on the wave of their Champions League triumph in Istanbul, with Rafa Benitez looking to strengthen his squad in the aftermath.
It was a difficult transfer window, though, dogged by Steven Gerrard’s attempts to leave, only to agree a new £100,000-a-week contract amid interest from Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Benitez added Momo Sissoko, Peter Crouch, Pepe Reina, Mark Gonzalez and Bolo Zenden to his first-team squad, but the club had also lined up an ambitious move to sign Figo.
In a Guardian report the day after Gerrard signed his new deal, it was claimed that Liverpool had agreed a £50,000-a-week deal with the 32-year-old, who was surplus to requirements at Real.
But while the Reds were described as “confident” that a free transfer could be finalised, the Spanish club were said to be looking for a £2 million fee.
Ultimately the move broke down, and in a new interview with the Guardian, Figo has expressed his disappointment at the situation.
“I would have liked to go. We talked a lot,” he explained.
“One week they say, ‘No, wait, we can’t do it just now’ and then they sign a player. Then, ‘wait a few more days, we need to sort this first’, and they sign another.
“I think: ‘Bloody hell, are you messing with me, or what?’.
“Inter appear, I go to Milan, meet [the club president Massimo] Moratti and take the decision. I loved Inter, it was exactly what I needed.”
As Figo detailed, with Liverpool clearly not showing the initiative required, a switch was instead made to Inter Milan, where he won four consecutive Serie A titles before retiring in 2009.
Though a long time ago now, it could be considered a big opportunity missed for Liverpool, whose transfer operation was far from slick.
A year later, the club had seemed close to signing Dani Alves from Sevilla, who had reluctantly agreed to allow the 23-year-old to leave, only for the Reds to pull out due to reservations over the £8 million asking price.
Alves went on to join Barcelona, where he cemented himself as a key player over eight years, winning 26 trophies including six LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues.