Top Ten: Missed transfer targets
With the 2009 summer transfer window drawing to a close and Real Madrid seemingly finished building their new side, the Premier League was linked with a number of star names who chose other leagues to further their careers. Here we look back at some of the players who snubbed a move to England.
Kaka: AC Milan - Real Madrid. The Brazilian superstar was subject to a £109m bid from Manchester City last January, but moved for around half that to continue his career at the Bernabeu instead. One of the world's best, it was perhaps surprising that the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea did not become involved in the bidding process, but the midfielder was adamant he would only leave for Madrid. It would have been the biggest coup in football history if City had lured him to Eastlands, but some fans are rather pleased he chose the pursuit of silverware over money.
Karim Benzema: Lyon - Real Madrid. Another to have snubbed the Premier League for a chance to play under the new galacticos regime, the French striker was attracting the interest of Manchester United and Arsenal before he eventually made the move to Spain. Benzema boasts power and pace in abundance and is viewed as one of the world's best young prospects; however, the transfer fee stretched the limits of Sir Alex Ferguson's pockets and the player revealed it had always been a dream of his to play at Madrid anyway.
Samuel Eto'o: Barcelona - Inter Milan. Manchester City were close to persuading the Cameroon star to join them, by offering him £200,000-a-week in wages. However, the prolific striker was swapped for Zlatan Ibrahimovic instead and joined Inter Milan. City, who also lost out on Mario Gomez when he joined Bayern Munich, tempered their disappointment with the signings of Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor but Eto'o's decision is almost certainly the best one for his career, as he is a player that needs to be playing Champions League football. He may get his critics for his apparent desire to become the highest paid player in the world, but there is no doubting Eto'o's class and he should score goals in Serie A.
Diego: Werder Bremen - Juventus. When Manchester City failed to land Kaka, they could easily have turned their attentions to the diminutive Brazilian, Diego, instead. The former Santos star would have been well known to ex-teammate Robinho, but chose to further his career in Italy with the Old Lady, rather than move to the Premier League. For a player of such obvious talent it is perhaps surprising that few clubs made their interest known, but the playmaker's style of football will suit Serie A and he should enhance his career prospects in Turin.
Yoann Gourcuff: AC Milan - Bordeaux. Another star to have slipped under the radar, potential suitors may have been put off by the limited impact he had on the AC Milan side. England's loss was Bordeaux's gain as they signed the player who helped them rip the French League from Lyon's grasp for a measly €15m. Possibly the future of French football, Gourcuff would not have gone unnoticed by the likes of Arsene Wenger and the talented midfielder may cause various bosses around Europe to rue the day they did not snap him.
Lucho Gonzalez: FC Porto - Marseille. The Argentine has impressed for the Portuguese champions both domestically and in the Champions League since his arrival in 2005. A fantastic attacking midfielder with an all-round passing game and great eye for goal, Lucho surprised the world when he signed for the French side for €18m, citing Didier Deschamps as a major influence. In the prime of his career, it will be interesting to see how he develops in the French league and whether a mid-range Premier League side can pick him up on the cheap in a few years' time.
Raul Albiol: Valencia - Real Madrid. A tough defender who was being tracked by Liverpool and Arsenal, Albiol has all the tools at his disposal to play at the top of the game. Worth around €15m, the Spanish international would have been a good signing for an English side due to his ability to play at centre-back or as a defensive midfielder. But with all the talk surrounding the acquisitions of Kaka and Ronaldo, Albiol could prove to be the most important deal for Madrid as he tries to help keep the goals out of Iker Casillas' net.
Javier Saviola: Real Madrid - Benfica. Once one of the most highly-rated young strikers in the world, Saviola suffered the indignity of being linked with pretty much every mid-ranking Premier League side before eventually making a €5m move to Benfica to try to reinvigorate his career. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid forward has a lot to prove, but was undoubtedly tipped over the edge when rumours of a move to Newcastle began to surface.
Diego Milito: Genoa - Inter Milan. Tottenham were linked with a bid for the Argentine striker, but Genoa president Enrico Preciosi claimed that their ''ridiculous'' bid of £10m would ''only get Milito's ear''. His transfer to Inter remained undisclosed, but it would have to have been significantly more than the English club's offer to tempt Genoa into parting with their 24-goal hero. A goalscorer wherever he has gone, Milito will lead the line alongside Eto'o at the San Siro after several seasons in Italy and Spain.
Anatoliy Tymoschuk: Zenit St. Petersburg - Bayern Munich. A combative defensive midfielder, the Ukrainian was signed by the Bundesliga club for around €14m. Boasting nearly one hundred caps for his country, Tymoschuk is held in high esteem in Europe and was linked with a string of top clubs, including Juventus, Celtic and Roma before choosing Germany to continue his career. Arsenal and Everton had their names in the hat for a while, but the commanding midfielder will be a key part of Bayern's attempts to reclaim the German league instead.