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Newcastle’s imminent takeover has got fans dreaming of a new team of superstars as one of football’s sleeping giants looks set to awaken.

Just imagine: it’s summer, lockdown is finally over, you’re in a beer garden with your mates, and the Magpies have just signed Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe to Newcastle, anyone?

AFP – Getty

Mbappe to Newcastle, anyone?

That wouldn’t be so ridiculous if the £300m takeover bid, backed by the Saudi royal family’s Public Investment Fund, goes through.

Mike Ashley’s 13-year ownership has zapped any previous ambition from the club, but there was a time when Newcastle’s aspiration knew no bounds.

This is a club who broke football’s transfer record to sign Alan Shearer for £15m in 1996, for goodness sake.

Okay, they got it wrong with the likes of Michael Owen and Patrick Kluivert, but at least they always tried to aim high.

Besides, the Toon could’ve had an inordinate amount of genuine legends if one or two things went differently.

Here, talkSPORT.com reveals nine footballing greats who almost joined Newcastle

Freddie Flintoff’s hilarious story about taking Steve Bruce to a party in Dubai and the Newcastle boss telling off Jamie Oliver!

Wayne Rooney

Manchester United’s greatest-ever goalscorer had the chance to join Newcastle instead when he left Everton in 2004.

Rooney revealed in 2015 that the late Sir Bobby Robson tried to lure him to St James’ Park when he was in charge of the Magpies.

Rooney said: “Sir Bobby Robson was a football man to the core and someone who once tried to sign me for Newcastle.

“I only played against his teams on a few occasions.

“But as the England captain and a keen historian of the England team, I am aware of his impact as manager and as the most successful national team manager since Sir Alf Ramsey.”

Instead, Newcastle signed Patrick Kluivert and his failure to hit the ground running contributed to Sir Bobby’s sacking early in the 2004/05 campaign.

Rooney celebrates his wonderstrike against Newcastle in 2005

AFP – Getty

Rooney celebrates his wonderstrike against Newcastle in 2005

Rivaldo

The Brazil legend looked set to join Newcastle after cutting his Barcelona contract short in 2002, with Sir Bobby’s influence again a key factor.

However, his exploits at the World Cup that summer convinced Italian giants AC Milan to take a chance on him, and Newcastle missed out.

Desperate to spend the money somehow, the Magpies made Hugo Viana the most expensive teenager in English football by signing him for £8.5m.

It’s safe to say the Portuguese midfielder wasn’t quite the same player.

Rivaldo helped Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002

Getty Images – Getty

Rivaldo helped Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002

Zinedine Zidane

Newcastle have got a lot of things wrong over the last 25 years, but perhaps none of their mistakes were greater than this one.

The Magpies had the chance to sign a 24-year-old Zidane from Bordeaux in 1996 for £1.2m, but decided he wasn’t good enough.

Agent Barry Silkman told Sport: “I have missed out on players. I suppose the biggest player I missed out on was Zinedine Zidane.

“I offered him to Newcastle at the beginning of the 1996 season for £1.2m. And they watched him and said that he wasn’t good enough to play in the First Division which is the Championship now.

“Three months later he went to Juventus for £1.2m and two years later he went for £48m. So I think the people at Newcastle got it slightly wrong.”

Newcastle’s greatest ever mistake?

Getty Images – Getty

Newcastle’s greatest ever mistake?

Roberto Baggio

The level of ambition at Newcastle was simply extraordinary in the summer of 1996.

After narrowly missing out on the title in dramatic fashion, the club broke the world transfer record to bring Shearer to Tyneside from Blackburn.

Before that, however, manager Kevin Keegan went with Douglas Hall and Freddy Shepherd on a trip to Italy in an effort to sign former Juve man Roberto Baggio.

Shearer turned out to be a fairly decent alternative, but imaging ‘The Divine Ponytail’ at St James’ Park. What a sight that would’ve been.

We almost got to see Baggio in the Premier League

Getty Images – Getty

We almost got to see Baggio in the Premier League

Dennis Bergkamp

When Andy Cole left for Manchester United in 1995, Keegan was desperate for a new star striker.

Bergkamp, meanwhile, was having a desperate time at Inter Milan following his big move from Ajax.

The Dutchman wanted an escape, and Newcastle were interested.

In the end, they opted for Les Ferdinand, and nobody could complain how that panned out.

However, Bergkamp’s subsequent Arsenal career suggests the technical genius was a bit of a miss for the Magpies, especially when he scored that goal at St James’ Park.

Newcastle paid a price for not signing Bergkamp when he scored THAT goal

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Newcastle paid a price for not signing Bergkamp when he scored THAT goal

Mohamed Salah

Newcastle almost signed the current Liverpool superstar nine-years ago when he was just a teenager.

Salah, then a player for Egyptian side Arab Contractors, even made the negotiations public.

He told Egyptian outlet Ahram Online in August 2011: “Newcastle will soon make an official offer to sign me for one season.

“I don’t think Contractors will refuse to let me play in the English Premier League.

“It’s a dream for any player to play in one of the strongest league competitions in the world.”

“I want to play abroad, I think this would be my next step.”

Instead, Salah took his first step to greatness by joining Swiss club Basel for £2m in 2012, while Newcastle signed Gabriel Obertan.

Newcastle had eyes on Salah nine years ago

Getty Images – Getty

Newcastle had eyes on Salah nine years ago

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Keegan brought all his previous ambition back with him when he returned to Newcastle in 2008.

But his aspirations would quickly be shot to pieces by new owner Ashley.

The Sports Direct tycoon promised Keegan a marquee signing and the Magpies were linked with 2006 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger.

They even submitted an official offer, but it wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on.

In his book, Bayern’s Karl-Heinz Rumenigge recalls telling Keegan: “Kevin, we couldn’t stop laughing. If you had offered €50m we still wouldn’t have sold him – but five million?!”

Ashley submitted a laughable bid for Schweinsteiger in 2008

Bongarts – Getty

Ashley submitted a laughable bid for Schweinsteiger in 2008

Luka Modric

Former Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has claimed Ashley pulled out of a deal to buy Ballon d’Or winner Modric in 2007.

He said in his autobiography: “I was then on the way to getting Luka Modric from Dinamo Zagreb, but by then, Mike saw the scale of the full debut and put the clamps on, so I had to make do with Geremi from Chelsea,”

Modric ended up joining Spurs before moving to Real Madrid and becoming the world’s greatest midfielder.

As for Geremi – well, the less said about that, the better.

Modric is one of the best midfielders of his generation

Getty Images – Getty

Modric is one of the best midfielders of his generation

Luis Figo

In 2005, Newcastle boss Graeme Souness actually confirmed the club’s interest in Real Madrid sensation Luis Figo.

He said: “There is an interest there as far as Luis Figo is concerned, but we do not want to say any more at the moment.”

However, the move fell through and Figo ended up joining Inter Milan, where he proved he still had plenty to give even in his thirties.

Newcastle went after Real Madrid’s No.10 in 2005

Getty – Contributor

Newcastle went after Real Madrid’s No.10 in 2005





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