They were the deals Everton should have done.
But somehow didn’t.
The transfers Everton fancied, thought about and sometimes even tried to pull off – only to find themselves facing disappointment.
But which ones are the most disappointing of all?
Four of our writers have had their say on the worst (or should that be best?) transfer near misses in Everton history.
Virgil van Dijk
Sam Carroll: “That’s the nature of this period, you are going to be linked with players,” Roberto Martinez said when asked about reported interest in Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk in 2015.
“I don’t enjoy talking about other players when they are not at our football club and I will never be disrespectful in that manner.
“We will wait as long as we can to select the person we want.”
He didn’t exactly rule out a move, prompting hope that Everton could beat Southampton to the Dutchman’s signature.
Van Dijk was valued at £10m by Celtic but ultimately it was the Saints who ended up coughing up first.
They went on to make a £65m profit several seasons later as Van Dijk eventually arrived on the wrong half of Merseyside and, true to form, scored against Everton on his debut.
Martinez went on to sign Ramiro Funes Mori instead.
Dave Prentice: On April 1, 1989, popular football magazine Shoot! claimed a world transfer exclusive.
They even had a picture of the signing on the cover to prove it – Ian Rush proudly sporting the Royal Blue jersey of the team he’d supported as a child – Everton Football Club!
Except the date was significant. It was a heart-stopping April Fool’s Day gag that Rush had been in on.
That story ran after Rush had returned from an uncomfortable season’s stay at Juventus – but maybe Shoot! got the idea for their gag from another world exclusive which appeared on the front page of national newspaper The Daily Star.
The reporter, Ken Gorman, was adamant that his information was correct and Everton had tried to hijack Liverpool’s bid to bring Rush back from Italy.
It never happened.
Regardless of the accuracy or otherwise of his information, any bid was always doomed to failure.
As were Everton’s hopes of lifting the FA Cup in 1989 when Rush, back with his beloved Reds, came off the substitutes bench to score twice in extra time.
Adam Jones: Just how many times were Everton linked with Joao Moutinho? There was one stage where it seemed like every transfer window was bringing up his name again.
What a signing he would have been for the Blues though.
The Portugal international himself recently admitted the move was close, and he would have brought a brilliant mix of style and technique to Everton’s midfield.
He’s a different player these days, but with Wolves he has proven his Premier League quality.
If only Everton could have managed to unearth that a few years earlier…
Connor Dunn: David Moyes admitted in 2012 he missed out on signing Eden Hazard from Lille because he lacked the funds to facilitate a transfer.
The former Everton boss explained at the time he knew about the world-class Belgian because of players like Marouane Fellaini.
Hazard is a player who could almost walk into any line-up in world football and it would have been an incredible swoop from Everton should they have got this over the line given what he achieved in the Premier League with Chelsea.
The London club signed the winger for £32million in 2012 – and though Moyes never revealed what he would have cost the Toffees, it is reported to have been less than what Chelsea paid.
Dan Kay: Italian hotshot Fabrizio Ravanelli endeared himself to Evertonians from the moment he arrived in English football, scoring a hat-trick on his Middlesbrough debut against Liverpool on the opening day of the 1996-97 season.
The ‘White Feather’ was a huge coup for the Teesiders arriving just months after helping Juventus win the Champions League but, despite a tumultuous season that saw Boro reach both domestic cup finals, they were relegated.
Howard Kendall had just begun his third spell in charge of the Blues and managed to get to Italian to travel to Merseyside for talks over a possible £7.5m move but the Italian’s wage demands proved too much and he moved to Marseille instead.
And a manager they almost hired… three times!
Dave Prentice: In 1977 Everton missed out on the greatest manager they never had.
Bobby Robson was a visionary manager. The Ipswich Town team he created won the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and were twice runners up in the top division. And they did so playing a brand of thrilling football entirely in keeping with Everton’s cherished School of Science mantle.
Which is maybe why the Blues board put him top of their shortlist after sacking Billy Bingham in 1977.
In his 1998 autobiography An Englishman Abroad, Bobby Robson wrote: “In 1977 I had gone up to Merseyside to meet the president Sir John Moores and chairman Philip Carter.
“We agreed what was then a monumental 10-year deal. It was the original offer I couldn’t refuse – and I didn’t. All I asked was 24 hours grace before the deal became public to tell my chairman John Cobbold.
“He had been so good that I simply didn’t want him to learn second hand.
“Sir John had given me a rather large cheque as a gesture of goodwill and intent. But within a day I had torn it up and thrown away a fortune because when I opened the Daily Express the next morning I saw a shocking headline screaming back at me. ‘Robson Goes To Everton.’
“How could I accept a job with a club where they had let me down on the very first day?”
Whether Everton actually did let Robson down is unclear.
Whether the Blues were simply the victim of some excellent sports reporting we’ll never know.
Perhaps Robson never fancied the job all along and found a convenient excuse.
Whatever the reasons, Robson stayed at Ipswich to craft one of the classiest, most cultured and visionary football teams it has ever been my good fortune to witness.
And Everton appointed Gordon Lee.