The Football Manc Cave are reflecting on players that nearly joined clubs and how it would have affected their history. Today is the unlikely story of Rivaldo to Bolton Wanderers.
There’s an article on WhatCulture.com that lists some of the players that nearly signed for Bolton over the years. There are some surprises like Wilfried Zaha in 2012 and Dennis Bergkamp in 2003. However, I’ve picked out one who would have made a huge difference to Bolton’s history. Brazilian forward, Rivaldo.
Take Yourself Back In Time
It’s 2004, Bolton were enjoying their fourth consecutive season in top-flight football, Sam Allardyce was in control, Bolton ended up finishing 6th in the league and earned themselves a shot in Europe.
Rivaldo was enjoying his career as he had passed through the likes of Deportivo La Coruña, Barcelona and AC Milan. In the same year, his time in Italy was coming to an end at the age of 32. This was at a stage where he would’ve been thinking about winding down his career a little.
Sam Allardyce, known for his gutsy signings and the players he brought in and changed at Bolton, enquired about the Brazilians availability during the January transfer window. Big Sam was told that the World Cup winner was unlikely to make a move to one of the Premier League’s ‘least fashionable’ clubs. However, the manager used his power of persuasion to try and get the move in motion.
Rivaldo’s contract in Milan was terminated as he had spent half the season back in Brazil playing for Cruzeiro. He’d only made 2 appearances for the Milan team which would lead to his agent to start contacting English clubs. This would include Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool. A spanner in the works was caused by the players rumoured wages. Apparently, they were at around the £3 million a year mark. This was too much for most, especially Bolton.
There was plenty of interest in the player but a lack of actual offers forced his return to Brazil. He ended up at Cruzeiro. Even though he scored against Peru for Brazil, he was unable to keep his place in the national team and he was playing on reduced wages for Cruzeiro which led to him leaving them in February.
It was at this point that Allardyce struck a deal with the former Player Of The Year. They met in a Manchester hotel and a one year contract was made up. The player, manager and chairman all shook hands and the deal seemed to be done.
Rivaldo to Bolton was closing in
Big Sam had even spoken to Sky and said that sometimes it’s about making a player feel wanted again. Rivaldo had also spoken on the matter and said that if the club were to offer him a little more money, the move could be on because he liked the stadium and wanted to help with Bolton’s European campaign. He even stated that he would live in Manchester if the move went again so he clearly thought a lot about it.
However, things took a drastic turn when Celtic got involved and tried to make an offer. Rivaldo supposedly had his head turned away from the Reebok. Allardyce believed he would be joining a different club. However, Phil Gartside said he’d received a fax that told him the deal was close to being done and it was just a matter of getting pen to paper on the final arrangements. A few weeks later, with fans hanging on the edge of their seat about this, Phil Gartside had to let fans down gently.
He had explained that Rivaldo had been talking and thinking too much about the money side of things, and eventually he ended up joining Olympiacos in Greece. Just imagine if the deal had been done. Here’s Rivaldo’s career statistics before and after the near Bolton move…
Barcelona – 1997-2002, 157 appearances and 86 goals.
AC Milan – 2002-2004 22 appearances and 5 goals.
Olympiacos – 2004-2007, 70 appearances and 36 goals.
AEK Athens – 2007-2008, 35 appearances and 12 goals.
He finished his career with Mogi Mirim on 8 appearances with 1 goal.
Which players do you recall nearly joining Bolton and how do you think they would have impacted or flopped?