Football: CITY LET Pounds 1M FIGO ESCAPE; Big Mal Had Luis Set to Sign
Maddock, David, The Mirror (London, England)
LUIS FIGO, at pounds 40million the most expensive footballer in history, almost signed for Manchester City for just pounds 1million.
City got as far as negotiating with the brilliant Portuguese midfielder and offering him a contract, before he was lured away from England by Barcelona.
The man behind what would have been the most astonishing deal English football has ever witnessed was Malcolm Allison.
Back in early 1994, a year before Figo joined Barcelona, former City coach Allison had just finished a stint coaching in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon.
When he returned to England, he was employed as a part-time scout by City, and immediately recommended a young kid at his former club who had just broken into the first team...Figo.
Allison remembers clearly that even then, at just 20, Figo looked a world-beater, and he was desperate to get him over to England with City.
"They asked me for some names, and I told them about Figo. At the time, not many people had heard of him, and Sporting were looking for some cash, so we thought we might get him," explained Allison.
"Brian Horton was the manager, and I think he was very keen. The fee would have been only around pounds 1.2million, and Figo was also very interested.
"We got as far as discussing terms, but there was a problem with the Portuguese regulations, which didn't allow him to sign at that time of the year for a foreign club.
"The only way City could get him was through a loan deal until the end of the season, and then buy him.
"But Barcelona got wind of it, and they offered to buy him and then loan him back to Sporting for the rest of the season, which was a more attractive deal to them. …