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Dirty Tackle

A brief history of clubs selling players who were ‘not for sale’

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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Liverpool principal owner John W. Henry has publicly responded to Luis Suarez's attempts to force a transfer by firmly stating that he will not be sold to Arsenal or any other club. This follows Manchester United's declaration that Wayne Rooney is not for sale and Spurs saying the same about Gareth Bale.

So that's it, then. No big moves because the boss men said so. Well, maybe not. Like the dreaded vote of confidence for a manager who then gets sacked, the "not for sale" announcement all too often comes right before a club ends up selling their star player. It's frequently more of a negotiation tactic and public relations move than an actual statement of fact. So with that in mind, here's a brief history of players who were not for sale being sold in recent years:

July 2012: Then Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said, "We're not in the remotest bit interested in selling" Robin van Persie. The next day, Van Persie announced that he would not sign a contract extension with the club via his personal website. A month later he was sold to Manchester United for £24 million.

May 2012: Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri said told the club's TV channel "The club and the president are keen to maintain AC Milan at a high level. Ibrahimovic and Thiago [Silva] will remain here." In July, PSG signed both players in a package deal worth a total of €62 million.

January 2011: Liverpool posted a brief statement on their official website that said, "Chelsea have made a bid for Fernando which has been turned down," the spokesman said. "The player is not for sale." This followed new owner John Henry's October 2010 vow that "There is no way the club is interested in selling" Fernando Torres. Three days after saying he wasn't for sale, Torres was sold to Chelsea for a British record £50 million.

May 2010: Then Barcelona president Joan Laporta said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not for sale after his first season with the club, stating, "He is a very highly-valued player, and I know the coaches count on him. The signing of Villa does not affect the future of Ibra.'' At the end of August, he was loaned to Milan for the 2010/11 season with an option to purchase for €24 million at the end of the campaign. Which they did.

June 2009: Then Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said that neither Xabi Alonso nor Javier Mascherano were for sale — a sentiment reinforced by the club. Alonso was sold to Real Madrid the following month for £30 million and Mascherano went to Barcelona a year later for £17.5 million.

March 2009: Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said, "Kaka is not for sale." Three days into the summer transfer window, he was sold to Real Madrid for £56 million.

December 2008: Amidst growing speculation about Cristiano Ronaldo, Then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said of Real Madrid, "I wouldn't sell them a virus." In June, he sold them Ronaldo for a world record £80 million.

July 2008: Spurs claimed they "had no intention of selling" Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United. Which they later did on a deadline day transaction worth £30 million.

This, of course, is just a sampling of this phenomenon. It doesn't mean that every time the words "not for sale" are uttered by a man in a suit, a player will disappear but it also doesn't mean they're definitely staying either.

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