Bursting onto the Eredivisie scene at a young age, Ola John earned FC Twente a healthy amount of money when Benfica came knocking and paid close to £11m for his services.
A successful first season suggested the move was a good one for the young winger, as he even managed to earn himself a cap with the Netherlands squad in February 2013.
However, things took a downhill turn after that, with him going from loan to loan, eventually moving to Vitoría Guimarães on a free in 2018, five years after Manchester United allegedly came knocking for his services.
That’s how much of an impression John made, also attracting interest from Milan, but Benfica, believing they had a star in the making on their books, priced everyone out of a move.
This is, at least, what the player himself told Omroep Brabant in Holland in an interview following his transfer to RKC Zwolle late in the window.
Asked about how he looked back on his ‘foreign’ adventures, he replied: “With mixed feelings. It looked good when I left. After my first year at Benfica, I was able to go to the top, but the club asked for €50-60m. A transfer to Milan was cancelled. There was also interest from Manchester United, but it didn’t become a transfer.
“I am disappointed. After that, party due to loans, it didn’t go as well. Mentally I have become stronger and I’ve grown as a person. As a footballer, less so. That’s why I hope to enjoy the game that I love so much now and just play football again”.
Unless someone fully opens up about the subject, we’ll never really know how close Ola John really came to moving to Old Trafford, but he seems to feel he was blocked from what would have been a proper career changing move.
Thankfully for him, at 28 years of age, there’s still time for him to turn things around a little bit.