Gnonto next? Seven star names who didn’t get their big move away

Leeds United forward Willy Gnonto has reportedly refused to play and tabled an official transfer request in an attempt to force a move away from the Championship.

Whether it be a ploy to negotiate a better contract or wanting to fulfil personal ambitions, elite footballers are not immune from ‘doing a Gnonto’ and expressing a desire to move elsewhere. But in the eternal words of Mick Jagger, you can’t always get what you what – just ask this lot.

We’ve identified seven star players who didn’t get their big move away and what happened next.

Steven Gerrard

In the manner of a Love Island contestant, Gerrard first ‘had his head turned’ by Chelsea during Euro 2004. But a £20million deal did not go through, despite Gerrard allegedly telling Jose Mourinho and Blues chief executive Peter Kenyon he would sign.

Looking back on it all, former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said: “I think during the Euros, Steven pretty much decided he wanted to go to Chelsea. The mistake Chelsea made was letting Steven come back to Liverpool after the Euros.

“They should have kept him on Abramovich’s boat.”

Gerrard lifted the Champions League the following season but rumours of a move to Stamford Bridge never went away.

And, just weeks after lifting Ol’ Big Ears in Istanbul, Gerrard opted for the nuclear option after Chelsea’s £32million bid was rejected.

“I rang Struan [Marshall, his agent],” he wrote in his 2007 autobiography. ‘”Struan, I’m going to find out whether they want to sell me. Put in a transfer request.” Struan phoned Liverpool. “Take this call as a transfer request,” Struan told them. “We will back it up in writing if you need us to. But this is it.”

“Bang. In went the transfer request, a hand-grenade rolled into the Liverpool boardroom.”

The news was met with anger on Merseyside, with fans burning Gerrard’s shirt on the street. The midfielder decided to stay after receiving a club-record wage deal and cemented his Anfield legend over the following decade.

READ: Seven of Steven Gerrard’s best moments at Liverpool: FA Cup, Istanbul

Wayne Rooney

Rooney may be Manchester United’s record goalscorer, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to leave the club. Twice. And making that very publicly known on both occasions.

By 2010, and with bitter rivals Manchester City circling, the striker discussed his desire to leave Old Trafford. 

“I met with David Gill [United’s chief executive] last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad,” Rooney said in a strongly-worded statement. “I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.”

The England international had reportedly fallen out with Sir Alex Ferguson but was convinced to sign a new deal.

The impasse only lasted three years. With the 2012-13 season drawing to a close, a retiring Ferguson stated that the 27-year-old had “asked for a transfer”.

Rooney’s eventually set the record straight in 2015: “I went in to see him and just said if you’re not going to play me it might be better if I moved on – then all of a sudden it’s all over the press I put in a transfer request, which I never did.”

It was only when the striker’s decline became impossible to mask that he left United, returning to boyhood club Everton in 2017.

Luis Suarez

The summer after scoring 30 goals in Liverpool’s otherwise forgettable first season under Brendan Rodgers, Suarez was getting itchy feet.

“My reason for leaving is my family and my image, I don’t feel comfortable here any more,” he stated in August 2013, clearly displeased with the standard of life in England’s North West.

Suarez stated his desire to leave on August 7, with reports claiming he would hand in a transfer request by the end of the week if Liverpool did not cede to his demands.

Less than two weeks later, Rogers declared the matter ‘resolved’ and Suarez contributed 31 goals to Liverpool’s doomed 2013-14 title charge before joining Barcelona the following summer.

We couldn’t end this section without mentioning Arsenal’s £40,000,001 bid. Hilarious.

David de Gea

A slow fax machine was the sole reason why De Gea didn’t join Real Madrid in the summer of 2015.

Frozen out of the United squad, the goalkeeper sat waiting in Spain for the move to go through after endless barrages of speculation – but the move never materialised.

Los Blancos swiftly released a statement on their website insisting they had done “everything necessary in every moment” to wrap up a deal for the Spain international, which would have seen Keylor Navas head in the opposite direction.

The Spain international remained at Old Trafford until this summer and was the last member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last title-winning squad to depart.

Jermain Defoe

Defoe submitted a transfer request less than 24 hours after West Ham were relegated in 2003. It was swiftly declined, and he spent half a season with the Hammers in Division One, scoring 15 goals and collecting three red cards. The young striker was sold to Tottenham in January 2004.

In an interview with FourFourTwo in 2017, Defoe said: “I did something wrong, I hold my hands up about it and take responsibility. I was a young lad back then and didn’t really understand what was going on.

“When we got relegated, my agent, who was also inexperienced at the time, said, “You need to hand in a transfer request as everybody else is going to leave.” I was young and naive, and all I was really thinking about was wanting to play football.

“Would I do the same thing now? No way. I would never hand in a transfer request and I would never advise a young lad to do it, either.”

READ: ‘Too good to go down’: Unravelling the mystery of West Ham’s 2003 relegation

Carlos Tevez

Tevez was never a stranger to controversial transfer deals, but his decision to submit a transfer request at Manchester City in December 2010 was still a shock.

BBC Radio 5 live football correspondent Ian Dennis said: “The striker is believed to be homesick and over the last couple of months there have been suggestions he’s considering quitting football altogether.

“In a recent television interview, he said he was tired of football and tired of people who work in football.”

City rejected the transfer request outright, releasing a statement that said:  “The written transfer request is in stark contrast to Carlos’ stated position in both public and club contexts.

“Significantly, over recent months, the club has also received numerous requests from Carlos’ representative to renegotiate and improve his playing contract as well as more recently a request to extend that contract by another year.”

The Argentina striker stayed to fire City to Champions League qualification, as well as becoming the top goalscorer in the 2010-11 Premier League season.

But his days as their main man were over. Tevez infamously sulked on the subs bench at Bayern Munich in 2011 and was ostracised from the squad. He left the club in the summer of 2013.

And City had already signed his replacement – a certain Sergio Aguero.

READ: Carlos Tevez: A priceless striker who even proved Fergie wrong

John Stones

Stones handed in a transfer request in 2015 after Everton rejected three bids from Chelsea for his services.

“Sometimes money can’t buy everything and that is going to be a very strong statement at Everton,” said Roberto Martinez after Everton rejected his request. “This is not a moment when we can use any money to get us stronger.”

But Stones only lasted another season at Goodison Park before switching to Manchester City for a £47million fee.

Stones’ importance to the style of play Man City play was clear to see in last season’s treble triumph. Spending one more year in Merseyside didn’t work out too badly for the defender.

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