Fabrizio Ravanelli reveals he verbally agreed to join Liverpool in 1997
According to the Athletic (h/t Teesside Live), Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli has revealed that he had verbally agreed to join Liverpool in the summer of 1997.
Ravanelli was coming of a personally successful debut season on English shores with Middlesborough. He scored 18 goals and two assists in 37 appearances at the Riverside Stadium. (h/t Transfermarkt)
Three of those goals came on his league debut when he scored a hat-trick against the Reds in a 3-3 draw. He nearly went on to score a fourth late on, only to be denied by David James.
Ravanelli went on to lead Middlesborough to two cup finals but could not keep them from getting relegated. He was keen on staying in the top-flight and was in talks with Liverpool and Tottenham.
Ravanelli revealed that he spoke to then manager Roy Evans and agreed to move to Liverpool.
“After, I have no idea why it did not happen. Liverpool, at that moment, I think it would have been a great move for me.”
Ravanelli would have added to a potent Red strikeforce with the likes of Micheal Owen, Robbie Fowler, and Steve Mcmanaman all firing cylinders.
A self-stabbing policy?
It was reported earlier that Evans also had a verbal agreement with Teddy Sheringham to move to Anfield. Confidence in Evans was low at the time and the board felt that investing in a 31-year-old striker was a gamble not worth taking. This, in spite of Sheringham’s impressive goal-scoring record. (h/t The Athletic)
Liverpool had a policy of not signing players over 28 at the time. Ravanelli was 28 at that time and it remains to be known if this policy had anything to do with the move not taking place. Queerly enough, Liverpool signed 31-year-old German veteran Karl-Heinz Riedle from Borussia Dortmund the same year.
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Ravanelli eventually left for Marseille in the summer. The Italian did eventually return to English shores in 2001. He spent two seasons at Derby County and made 50 appearances, scoring 15 goals.