8 stars you didn’t know had trials at rivals including Steven Gerrard at Man Utd

Before Steven Gerrard became a Liverpool legend by leading them to Champions League and FA Cup glory – he rejected their biggest rivals in the form of Manchester United.

The future England midfielder is one of a sting of Premier League and international stars who for one reason or another didn't sign for another notable club after a trial that might well have changed the course of their career.

Daily Star Sport has taken a look at eight notable names that might've followed very different paths – including the current golden boot holder having a trial at Blackburn.

READ MORE: Son Heung-min looks very different in throwback snap after he had Blackburn trial

Steven Gerrard – Man Utd

Gerrard revealed after leaving Liverpool that he had rejected the chance to sign for United as a youngster, saying: "I wore the red of United in two trial games.

Which player do you wish your club had signed before they made it? Tell us in the comments section below

"After doing well in those games United offered me a three-year pro contract.

"I even met their legendary manager. A group of trialists had dinner with Mr Ferguson, as he was then. Michael Owen was meant to be at the meal, but didn't turn up.

"We sat and listened in awe to one of the managerial greats. He had heard about me and desperately wanted me to sign, but I was never going to sign for United."


Son Heung-min – Blackburn

Son Heung-min made his name in the Bundesliga with Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen before coming to the Premier League with Tottenham, but could've arrived much earlier.

He said in a chat with the Daily Mail this week: "I had no friends there, no family with me and I couldn't speak the language. I didn't know a single word. I was on my own and I was scared, you know. It was tough.

"I had a trial at Portsmouth and one at Blackburn, too. They put me in a guest house. But I was a kid and I didn't know anything. So that is my first memory of England and it is a bad one."

Declan Rice – Fulham

Declan Rice revealed earlier this year that he rejected the chance to sign for Fulham having been released by Chelsea before pushing for a move to West Ham.

He told Gary Neville on The Overlap: "After one session (Fulham) wanted to sign me."

Adding: "Then it was pretty much a decision, do I want to stay in Kingston and train at Fulham, five minutes away, or do I go to West Ham and have a new challenge?

"Move away from home, start a new school — and that’s the route I chose. And it hasn’t been a bad one so far."

Ivan Rakitic – Arsenal

Ivan Rakitic was once on trial at Arsenal according to an old 2004 team-sheet from a reserve game, but he went on to sign for FC Basel before joining Schalke 04.

The Croatia hero then starred for Sevilla and Barcelona before being linked with a move to join the Gunners, which again never materialised.

Now 34, it seems unlikely that the creative midfielder will ever play in the Premier League having rejoined Sevilla back in 2020.

Kylian Mbappe – Chelsea

Chelsea rejected the chance to sign Kylian Mbappe as a 12-year-old because he couldn't defend, according to a former scout.

Serge Daniel Boga explained: "At the time, he wasn't a hard worker, defensively he wasn't there yet. When he got the ball, he was unbelievable, but without the ball, he didn't work a lot.

"Chelsea wanted to see him again to see how he could improve on this – I think that's why they asked him back. He did skilful things and dribbled well, so maybe the things they wanted to see in the second trial was improved work on the defensive side."

Roy Keane – Brighton

Although he didn't quite get to a trial, Roy Keane was all set for one at Brighton before joining Nottingham Forest – but it was cancelled.

The Irish Times say that the club had heard the young midfielder was too small to make in the professional game and pulled the offer.

Keane went on to join Manchester United from Forest and become one of the greatest defensive midfielders the English game has seen.

Mario Balotelli – Barcelona

Mario Balotelli was just 16 when he had a trial with Barcelona in 2006, playing three matches for their trial side and scoring eight goals.

Although things didn't work out, he would up joining Manchester City from Inter Milan four years later and win a Premier League title.

Following spells with Milan, Liverpool, Nice, Marseille, Brescia and Monza, he even got an Italy call up this year following fine form with Adana Demirspor.

Lionel Messi – River Plate

Lionel Messi, who is widely regarded to be the best player in history, had a one-week trial with River Plate back in 2000 before joining Barcelona.

The youngster had made his way through the ranks at Newell's Old Boys and impressed River, but they didn't have the money to complete a deal.

Barcelona then stepped in and agreed to pay for the growth treatment he needed, with Messi going on to score 672 goals for the club and win 28 major trophies.


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