It was June 2011, the sun was (maybe) out, the birds were (likely) chirping, and Bolton Wanderers' ill-fated 2011/12 Premier League campaign was still a little ways off. The fans were highly anticipating the upcoming season, not knowing about the long, arduous, painful road that lay ahead for the Trotters. Like any summer, Bolton Wanderers made a number of signings but this piece is about the one that got away.
That summer, Bolton Wanderers were linked with a number of different targets, ultimately landing the likes of Nigel Reo-Coker, David Ngog, Dedryck Boyata, Gael Kakuta, and Tuncay Sanli. While those were all decent, OK, used incorrectly, or generally crap (in that order), Bolton Wanderers missed out on what was their most exciting and ambitious target in Barcelona's Thiago Alcantara. It was a rumor that came relatively out of nowhere and with a price tag that, with hindsight, you can only laugh about.
The rumor emerged just ahead of the 2011 UEFA U21 European Championships that Spain, with Thiago flying high in full form, went onto win. The rumored price was said to be between £5 and £7 million, depending on which outlet you look at and according to a report out of the Mirror, the Trotters were all set to pay it, having requested a meeting with the powers at be at Barcelona. Unfortunately for Bolton, the then relatively unknown starlet's stock rose a huge amount as a result of the tournament and they were ultimately priced out.
That year, Spain's U21s ended up beating Switzerland in the final 2-0 with Thiago scoring the dagger in that match. He was ultimately named to the team of the tournament, alongside the likes of David de Gea, Christian Eriksen, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge, and others.
What could have been, eh?