With the summer transfer window set to slam shut in just over 24 hours Aberdeen's transfer activity looks to be firmly over, after a pre-season which has seen the arrivals of no less than seven new faces. Despite this, the most compelling narratives are often formed by transfer sagas that are not seen through to completion. Below are a few of recent memories most notable Aberdeen FC transfer nearly men.
Such is journeyman forward Gow's propensity for changing clubs that it seems as though Aberdeen are one of the sides that he has not turned out for. A joke perhaps, but one rooted in reality - Gow has appeared for eleven clubs so far in an eleven year career, failing to complete more than three seasons at a single team, and making no more than 17 appearances for any single club in the last four years. No transfer window is complete for Aberdeen fans without an obligatory link with the 28 year old and the ongoing saga has become something of a joke among several quarters of the clubs support. Although Gow possesses good technical ability, his career appears to have been reduced to a series of maybes, amid persistent doubts over his fitness. It is unlikely that he would ever have prospered in a series of uninspired Aberdeen sides, nor aided the clubs fortunes.
It is difficult to look at Lee Hendrie's 16 year career without a certain degree of sympathy. The recipient of 12 England under 21 caps and a respectable five goals, Hendrie made over 250 Premier League appearances for Aston Villa and appeared to have the world at his feet after winning the clubs Young Player of the Season award in 1998, as well as making his full International debut in the same year. At first glance you would be forgiven for assuming that Aberdeen would jump at the chance of signing such a decorated player, but last summer Mark McGhee opted to sign Paul Hartley instead, despite Hendrie impressing during a brief trial period. After a short spell at Bradford Hendrie is now making waves in the Indonesian league for Bandung, a pair of moves that hint at the quality of other offers that he received. Even had he joined Aberdeen it is difficult to see him making a success of himself - Paul Hartley arrived as a somewhat messianic figure and even he left with his tail between his legs, preferring semi retirement as player manager at Alloa to another year with the Dons. It's fair to say that Lee may have dodged a bullet last summer.
Former Aberdeen captain and fan favourite Russell Anderson has endured something of a torrid time since joining Roy Keane's Sunderland for £1 million in 2007. Anderson managed just a single league appearance for the Black Cats in an injury hit three years before moving on to Derby County in 2010, where he has found himself in and out of a struggling team. Predictably, in the wake of Anderson's tribulations south of the border there has been much talk of a return to the club where he made his name. In recent years Aberdeen have lacked a mature presence at the back and were rumored to have had a bid accepted for their ex-captain last season. Anderson however has frequently spurned advances from Scottish outfits, and seems to have ambitions of making it in England, however much his International prospects seem to have diminished since leaving Pittodrie. In any case, experienced centre back Youl Mawene arrived at Aberdeen this summer, appearing to curtail any prospect of Anderson returning to his former club - in the near future at least.
Much maligned for his misadventures in England in the colours of Sunderland and Coventry, Kyle was an unexpected success at Kilmarnock in his eighteen months at the club, scoring 16 goals in 43 appearances. As his contract ran down, former Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee went public with his interest in signing the striker on a bosman as a replacement for Middlesborough-bound Lee Miller. After a torturous series of negotiations amid interest from several other SPL clubs, Kyle opted for Aberdeen's SPL rivals Hearts, reuniting him with his former Kilmarnock manager Jim Jeffries. Oddly enough Kyle's decision looks to have worked out rather well for Aberdeen - Scott Vernon was signed instead and had a good debut season for the Dons, scoring 17 goals in 47 appearances despite playing on while carrying an injury towards the end of the season. In contrast, Kyle has had an injury hit time at Hearts, making just 21 appearances and scoring a total of ten goals, with a meager four of them from open play.
Football fans are a notoriously opportunistic breed, which seems the most likely explanation for the rumours linking Scottish international James McFadden with a move to Aberdeen this summer. After a season plagued with injuries he was released following Birmingham's relegation to the Championship, and despite the new season already having kicked off has so far failed to find a new club. McFadden would of course be a fantastic signing for Aberdeen, and has the potential to solve both their problems with creativity and goalscoring. Unfortunate as it is though, the chances of a move to Pittodrie seem bleak at best, with the likelihood being that he would need to take a cut in pay of well over 50% to join up with Craig Brown at Aberdeen. McFadden is a fantastic player, and arguably still has a lot to offer at Premier League level. With Everton desperately short on cash it does not seem outrageous to link him with a move back to Goodison Park, and a reconciliation with former manager David Moyes.
If there is one thing that immediately jumps out from the above names, it is that all of are experiencing something of a downturn in fortunes. Aberdeen realistically cannot sign established, successful players anymore - even McFadden is vastly out of Craig Brown's reach, with more realistic targets likely to be found in the lower reaches of the English league, as well as abroad. If there is one comfort to be taken from the situation, it is that the rest of Scotland is in the same boat - even the Old Firm can barely compete with teams in the Championship, while the rest of the league are left competing with Aberdeen for the pick of football's failures and free agents.