One that got away 🤦‍♂️: Rivaldo to Newcastle

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Padraig Whelan

Article image: One that got away 🤦‍♂️: Rivaldo to Newcastle

Hearing the name Rivaldo on Tyneside must sting just a little bit even today.

Newcastle missed out on bringing the Brazilian superstar to the club not once but twice during his illustrious career.

He is the kind of mercurial talent who would have been worshipped in the north east had he embraced it like a David Ginola had.

But instead, we’re just left to reflect on what might have been if the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner had made his way to St James’ Park.

Newcastle’s interest in Rivaldo was first piqued in 1995, where he was shining in his homeland with Palmeiras.

At the age of 23, the time had come for him to get his big move and the Magpies were interested, having scouted the attacker at that time.

However, securing a work permit for South American players proved to be a difficult task at that time, although it wasn’t the sole reason a move didn’t materialise.

Speaking to the Chronicle in 2014, former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd, who also acted in advisory roles for deals prior to taking on his official role, believes it came down to Rivaldo trying to hold his own club to ransom.

“We made contact with them but we didn’t always succeed in these deals,” said Shepherd.

“Some of them already have their minds made up or are trying to get a wage increase at their current club. We tried our best.”

He went on to join Deportivo La Coruña a year later, staying just one season before joining Barcelona, where he established his superstar status.

In the summer of 2002, his time at the Camp Nou was drawing to a close though and after Louis van Gaal took over, the writing was most definitely on the wall.

That was where Newcastle came in again, this time aided by an ace in the hole of having Bobby Robson in charge – the man who managed Rivaldo during his first season with the Catalan club.

But after the ex-Olympiacos man went on to enjoy a fine individual campaign in which he helped Brazil to World Cup glory that summer, Newcastle were priced out of a move, particularly as the player had been earning £100,000 per week in Spain.

After he was released from his Barcelona contract though, the attacker went on to join Milan in late July on a free.

That came despite Shepherd and his deputy Douglas Hall holding talks with the player’s entourage with manager Robson admitting that they simply could not afford the costs involved.

“We could have had Rivaldo and the chairman looked at the deal very hard,” Robson told the News of the World.

“But it was above our budget. It is stupid to break a club just to bring in one top class player who might get injured in his first game.”

While Rivaldo did enjoy some decent years in Greece after leaving Milan following an extremely disappointing 14-month spell, he never quite hit the same heights again as he had enjoyed in LaLiga.

It would have been so intriguing to see him at Newcastle but this may ultimately have been a bullet dodged.