West Ham could have had Neymar for less than £30m, but he joined Barcelona and became world’s most expensive player and Hammers signed Piquionne and Obinna instead

When Neymar secured a world-record £198million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, it may have left West Ham with a ‘that could’ve been us’ feeling.

Today we recognise Neymar as one of football’s superstars, having won numerous league titles and a Champions League. He’s also an icon in his native Brazil.

Neymar has played more than 100 times for Brazil and he’s just 28 years old

But before the world really new anything about him West Ham were, albeit for a brief moment, at the front of the queue to sign him.

Yes, you read correctly! The Hammers were reported front-runners in the race to sign someone who later became the world’s most expensive player.

For the sake of another £12.4million, the Hammers squandered a huge chance that would have seen Neymar play in the iconic Claret and Blue and perhaps later securing themselves a fine piece of business.

talkSPORT.com takes a look back at one of the most bizarre possible transfers ever and how West Ham have struggled to sign a top forward in the years since.

Neymar wondering about what might have been at West Ham

A number of top European clubs were reportedly interested in a then 18-year-old Neymar but it’s understood the east London club made the first move.

The Daily Mail reported they submitted a £16million offer for Neymar, who played for Brazilian side Santos at the time.

As this was before the market exploded, bidding £16m for a player who had no international caps to his name was a bold offer indeed.

But Santos wanted MORE money, insisting they wouldn’t do a deal for any offer below his £28.4m release clause.

Neymar was relatively unproven when West Ham showed an interest. Hindsight shows us it would’ve been worth the gamble

The deal was also complicated by the fact Santos owned just 60 per cent of Neymar’s rights and needed the agreement of an investment group in order to accept anything less than the buyout clause.

It’s also understood that Neymar’s father, who’s also his agent, had reservations about his son not joining a top European club.

But it didn’t matter anyway as West Ham didn’t want to pay the extra £12.4m. Neymar eventually moved to Europe three years later as Barcelona shelled out £49m for him.

And what he’s gone onto achieve in his career shows he was worth every penny for Barca, winning two LaLiga titles, a Champions League, three Copas del Rey and a Supercopa de Espana in four years at the Camp Nou.

Neymar forged a formidable partnership up front with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, but it could quite easily have been Carlton Cole and Benni McCarthy
Neymar got his big-money move to PSG in 2017 but it’s been suggested he wants a new challenge. London Stadium perhaps?

Football could have looked very different had Neymar gone to east London a decade ago, it certainly would’ve been for West Ham, who ended up relegated in 2011 with Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna signed instead.

And The Hammers have had a pretty tough time when it came to recruiting forwards in the years since.

West Ham's striker transfer woes since missing out on Neymar

*Fees according to Transfermarkt

  • Frederic Piquionne – July 2010 (£1.08m)
  • Victor Obinna – August 2010 (Undisclosed)
  • Demba Ba – January 2011 (£720,000)
  • Paul McCallum – January 2011 (£64,000)
  • Robbie Keane – January 2011 (£1.08m loan)
  • Brian Montenegro – August 2011 (Undisclosed)
  • John Carew – August 2011 (Undisclosed)
  • Sam Baldock – August 2011 (£2.52m)
  • Ricardo Vaz Te – January 2012 (£540,000)
  • Nicky Maynard – January 2012 (£1.8m)
  • Modibo Maiga – July 2012 – (£5.4m)
  • Andy Carroll – August 2012 (£1.13m loan), permanent fee in May 2013: £15.75m
  • Sean Maguire – January 2013 – (Undisclosed)
  • Wellington Paulista – January 2013 – (Undisclosed)
  • Marouane Chamakh – January 2013 – (Undisclosed)
  • Danny Whitehead – June 2013 – (Undisclosed)
  • Mladen Petric – September 2013 (Free)
  • Carlton Cole – October 2013 (Free)
  • Marco Borriello – January 2014 (£630,000 loan)
  • Jaanai Gordon – January 2014 (Undisclosed)
  • Mauro Zarate – May 2014 (Undisclosed)
  • Enner Valencia – July 2014 (£13.5m)
  • Diafro Sakho – August 2014 (£4.5m)
  • Nikica Jelavic – August 2015 (£3.69m)
  • Emmanuel Emenike – January 2016 (£900,000 loan)
  • Ashley Fletcher – July 2016 (Free)
  • Simone Zaza – August 2016 (£4.5m loan)
  • Jonathan Calleri – August 2016 (£4.23m loan)
  • Javier Hernandez – July 2017 (£16.02m)
  • Jordan Hugill – January 2018 (£9.18m)
  • Oladapo Afolayan – February 2018 (Undisclosed)
  • Lucas Perez – August 2018 (£3.96m)
  • Sebastien Haller – July 2019 (£45m)
  • Albian Ajeti – August 2019 (£7.83m)

You could argue that their best two forwards in recent years have been Marko Arnautovic and Michail Antonio, players who have been converted into out-and-out centre-forwards by David Moyes.

Their striker woes are still going on now, with West Ham cutting their losses on record signing Sebastien Haller and selling him to Ajax for around £20m – he cost the Hammers £45m.

How different it could’ve been if Neymar joined all those years ago. His reputation for diving may not exist given Mark Noble would have been his captain.

Source: transferrumours

West Ham could have had Neymar for less than £30m, but he joined Barcelona and became world’s most expensive player and Hammers signed Piquionne and Obinna instead