7 world-class players who rejected Barcelona
It is the dream of many footballers to play for Barcelona. The Catalan giants are one of the biggest and best clubs in the world, and it is not often players reject the opportunity to move there.
Many truly world-class footballers like Luis Suarez and Neymar have said time and again that it was a dream come true to move to Barcelona. However, there have been some genuinely amazing stars who have not been swayed by the opportunity to play for the Blaugrana giants.
Without much ado, let us take a look at 7 World Class stars who have rejected Barcelona.
7. David Luiz
The curly-haired Brazilian centre-back was the subject of a couple of bids from Barcelona when he was in his first spell at Chelsea. However, David Luiz decided that a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain would suit his career better.
During his spell with the Ligue 1 giants, Luiz revealed he had rejected Barcelona. Speaking to AS in September 2014, Luiz said:
"It's true they (Barca) tried to tempt me a couple of times, and everything looked good.
"But eventually I realised the team that wanted me was PSG."
Barcelona scouts were impressed with Luiz's skills on the ball and saw him as the ideal ball-playing defender. Still, the Brazilian rejected them and moved to PSG before making a sensational return to Stamford Bridge in 2016.
6. Rio Ferdinand
Sixteen trophies, twice world's most expensive defender, and captain of his country during his stellar career, Rio Ferdinand at his prime was one of the most sought after defenders in the world.
Barcelona might be one of the strongest and most complete teams of this generation, but if there was one weakness in their team, it was their defence. Rio Ferdinand was seen as the ideal option to shore up the Barcelona backline, but, the English international revealed that he rejected the move because he was winning everything he wanted at Manchester United.
Speaking to reporters, Ferdinand said:
"I spoke to Roma and also there was interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona at one time. But when I was at Manchester United and there was interest from other clubs I was winning things at Manchester United. So my head was never turned to go anywhere else.
"If Gareth Bale had been at Manchester United and winning trophies he wouldn't have gone to Real Madrid. I was just turned on by winning. I wasn't interested in going anywhere else."
Barcelona might have had two defenders with a Manchester United connection (Gerard Pique had a spell at United) if Ferdinand had made the move to Catalonia.
5. Alessandro Del Piero
A Juventus icon and legend who gave his heart and soul to the Old Lady for 19 years, Del Piero was one of the most gifted Italian players of this generation. The former Juventus captain made over 700 appearances for the Bianconeri and remained with the club even though they were demoted to Serie B after the Calciopoli scandal.
Throughout his career, Del Piero had plenty of offers from various top clubs across Europe and his agent confirmed in 2012 that the Italian had rejected both Barcelona and Manchester United during the prime of his career.
Speaking to Tuttomercatoweb, Del Piero's agent Claudio Pasqualin said:
"Del Piero is Juventus. During the prime of his career, he rejected Manchester United and Barcelona. He did that for love.”
One of the most loyal servants of Juventus, Del Piero to this day remains a true icon and hero to the Juventus fans. Here is a video capturing the Italian legend's best moments at Juventus.
Atletico Madrid created history when they won the La Liga title in the 2013/14 season. Diego Costa and Koke were the stars for Atletico Madrid that year and it was little surprise that Barcelona wanted the supremely talented midfielder.
The scouts at Barcelona and Luis Enrique saw Koke as a long-term successor to Xavi, however, the Spaniard rejected the move and stayed with his boyhood club. Speaking to AS in August 2014, Koke said:
''The truth is that part of me said it was difficult to say no to Barca but I wanted to continue at home for many years at Atletico. It wasnt time to leave. This is my home, where I feel wanted and the club didnt want to sell."
"How was I going to leave at the best time for Atletico? It is not easy to say no to Barca and their interest was appreciated. It means the work Ive done has paid off. But I’m at home here.”
Barcelona went on to sign Rakitic while Koke has cemented his place as one of the best players in the Atletico Madrid squad at the moment.
3. Thiago Silva
Widely considered by many to be one of the most consistent and best centre-backs in the world, Thiago Silva said no to Barcelona not once but twice. The Brazilian center-back was wanted when he was at AC Milan and at PSG, but Silva himself honestly admitted that he rejected Barcelona for the opportunity of making more money at Paris.
In a revealing interview, Silva spoke about how he rejected Barcelona twice:
''It was a difficult decision to say no twice to Barcelona. It was never a secret that I have admired them since I was a kid and that I always wished I could play for Barcelona. But life is made of hard decisions that sometimes go against what you dream of.
“I heard people saying I was just thinking of the money, but they forget we have families to feed. Why would I accept to earn less money to play for Barcelona? Why are players the ones supposed to sacrifice themselves Besides, PSG offered me also an opportunity for a new challenge and the club are trailing the right path.”
Thiago Silva will be hoping to guide PSG to some continental glory, having already won several league titles in Frace.
2. Gianluigi Buffon
One of the best goalkeepers in the history of football, Gianluigi Buffon became the world's most expensive goalkeeper in 2001 when he made a £39 million move to Juventus from Parma.
It was no surprise that the inspirational Italian was wanted by all the top clubs across Europe and Buffon revealed that a discussion with his father helped him choose Juventus over Barcelona.
Speaking to Mediaset in October 2013, Buffon said:
"I could have joined Barcelona in 2001. However, I decided to join Juventus after discussing it with my father and I'm still grateful for it.
"Being at Juventus is a unique experience and has brought me a lot of satisfaction. And let's not forget that Barcelona back then were nothing like the team they are now."
Buffon is already one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the game, but one can only imagine the amount of success the veteran Italian shot-stopper would have had if he made the switch to Barcelona in 2001.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo at Barcelona! Ronaldo and Messi in the same team. Wow! It might have almost happened if legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had his way.
Incensed with Real Madrid for taking away all his star players behind his back like David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Gabriel Heinze, the Scotsman had famously proclaimed that he would not even "sell a virus" to Real Madrid.
Resigned to losing Ronaldo in 2009, Sir Alex even tried offering Ronaldo to Real Madrid's direct rivals Barcelona. Still, the Portuguese superstar himself rejected the offer as he only wanted to play for Real Madrid.
Former Real President Roman Calderon spoke about how Ronaldo rejected Barcelona in March 2014:
"In the few weeks, he tried to avoid him going to Real Madrid, offering him to Barcelona. Barcelona were very happy at that moment, but it was very crucial as Ronaldo said: I'm not going to any other club but Real Madrid.
"That's why we signed the deal. Everyone was happy: Manchester United got the £80 million, Real Madrid got the best player in the world and Cristiano got what he wanted because players like him are not only looking for money, they look for glory"
Ronaldo is undoubtedly the most high-profile player ever to reject the Catalan giants.