By 90Min
August 02, 2019

In 1998, the film Sliding Doors was released, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. The plot revolves around Paltrow's character, Helen Quilley, who at the beginning of the film is rushing to catch a train. She drops her earring and this delay causes her to be left, stranded.

The film then rewinds however, and the exact same scene is replayed, only this time she slips in between the sliding doors and catches her train. The film is then played out with two alternating story lines, both with very different consequences for Helen, all thanks to a set of train doors. 

While the film may not be an absolute classic, the idea is thought-provoking. One moment, one incident, one decision, can change the course of our history forever, and while you think nothing of it at the time, eventually you're left wondering what might have been. 

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I'm sure Malcom knew that the decision he made while waiting for his flight to Rome would change his footballing career forever, but no one could have predicted just how drastically wrong it would go. 

It was reported on Wednesday that the talented winger is set to join Zenit St. Petersburg on a permanent deal, after suffering a miserable debut season at Barcelona

The tricky Brazilian had attracted the attention of a host of European sides after a sparkling year in Ligue 1 at Bordeaux, and eventually joined la Blaugrana for around €41m. 

It could have been so different, though. 

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Prior to Barca's interest, a deal had been agreed with AS Roma to bring Malcom to the capital, and the youngster was waiting for his flight to Italy to take off. The transfer was at such an advanced stage, that his mother had already travelled to Rome, and was waiting for him at the airport. 


A crowd of Roma fans had gathered to welcome the Brazilian, in the hope that his signing would help I Giallorossi to take the leap and become a title challenger. His electric pace, ability to beat his full-back and eye for goal were key attributes which made him one of the most exciting prospects in world football. 


In that moment, he dropped his earring - or in this case, he received a call to say Barcelona wanted to hijack the deal. 


He reneged on his verbal agreement with Roma, and flew to Spain much to the dismay of Roma sporting director Monchi, their supporters, and probably his mother, left alone in Rome. 

Unlike Sliding Doors, we'll never know what would have happened had the Brazilian ignored Barca's interest and took his flight to Fiumicino airport. It's possible that he would have struggled to settle and recapture his scintillating form from his Bordeaux days, or maybe he would have become another victim of the chaotic behind-the-scenes running of Roma, and never got the chance to shine.

But he could also have been a star. 

What we do now, unfortunately for Malcom, is what really happened. 

The Brazilian made a total of six league starts for Barcelona in the 2018/19 campaign, amassing 608 minutes of football for Ernesto Valverde's side. 

Valverde clearly did not trust the winger, and it is rumoured that the Barca boss had never wanted to sign Malcom, nor even knew of him as a player before his arrival. His lack of belief showed, as the 22-year-old found himself further and further away from the starting 11, sometimes not even in the matchday squad at all. 

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When given the chance, he did show what he was capable of producing - briefly. Goals in crucial games against Inter in the Champions League and Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey demonstrated that his wealth of talent was just waiting to be unearthed and nurtured. 

But that day never arrived. 

Instead, Barca have signed fellow Frenchman Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, and are reigniting their interest in old flame Neymar. He also faces intimidating competition for places from Ousmane Dembele, and there's some guy called Lionel Messi who can also do a half-decent job on the right flank too. 

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/GettyImages

In short, his Barcelona career looks to have come and gone in an instant. 

It seems ludicrous that someone so young and talented, finds himself leaving a footballing hotbed to enter the baron desert that is Russian football. It's almost befitting the cautionary tale of a young footballer with enormous and impatient aspirations, that he won't earn a comfortable move to Premier League paradise, nor seek comfort in a return to France. 

He must do the hard yards at Zenit and prove himself once more. 

But this is by no means the end of his promising career. He is still 22 years old, and has suffered only one poor season, mainly due to a lack of opportunities rather than a lack of quality. And it's unrealistic to expect a professional footballer to turn down the chance of joining one of the biggest teams in the world, especially if he has bags of talent and potential. 

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Malcom is a painful example of a young player reaching his final destination before completing his journey, and while the immediate future may look bleak for the talented winger, his deserved time at the top will arrive...eventually.

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