24 hours that turned his dream into a nightmare; MIRROR SPORT ON THE pounds 12m MACCA BOMBSHELL.
What began as a dream at 6.30pm on Wednesday when Bobby Robson made his first move for Macca looked like ending in nightmare at midnight last night.
This is the background to the sensational on-off deal as it unfolded over an amazing 24 hours:
Wednesday, 6.30pm: Former England boss Robson, now Barcelona's general manager and chief scout, arrives at Anfield to run the rule over McManaman for the second time in five days.
He had watched Macca in Liverpool's first game against Wimbledon on Saturday.
Along with new coach Louis Van Gaal, Robson had identified either David Beckham or McManaman as their top English target.
But with Manchester United slapping a firm "no sale" sign on Beckham they decide to turn their attentions to McManaman - and find Liverpool ready to listen to their offer.
Wednesday, 7.45pm: Liverpool's game against Leicester kicks off. McManaman doesn't have the best of times as the Mersey club slip to a shock 2-1 defeat.
Wednesday, 10pm: After the game, Robson has talks with Liverpool manager Roy Evans confirming Barcelona are willing to pay pounds 12million for the England star.
Wednesday, 11pm: McManaman has talks with Robson at a Liverpool hotel but is sworn to secrecy. Thursday, 10am: Macca is given the morning off as his Liverpool team-mates work off the frustrations of the night before.
Thursday, 1pm: Evans drives from the club's Melwood training ground to Anfield to discuss Barcelona's offer with Liverpool chairman David Moores and chief executive Peter Robinson.
Thursday, 4pm: They decide the pounds 12million bid is too good to turn down.
Thursday, 5pm: McManaman flies to Spain and books into the Ritz Hotel in Barcelona along with his adviser, Simon Fuller, who also acts for the Spice Girls.
He begins to dream of what it must be like to play in the 120,000-seat Nou Camp, one of the most imposing football stadiums in the world.
And he contemplates that the deal will turn him into an instant millionaire.
Thursday, 8pm: The first sign that things are starting to go wrong. McManaman receives feed-back from Barcelona officials that the proposed negotiations have been called off.
He suspects they might have lined up another player.
And it also emerges that Barcelona do not seem prepared to meet his personal terms, which are reported to be around pounds 2million a year for a five-season contract.
Thursday, 9pm: Spanish state TV reports that Barcelona have signed Rivaldo, buying out the Brazilian's contract at Deportivo La Coruna for around pounds 17million.
Midfielder Rivaldo scored 21 goals last season - the fourth highest tally in the Spanish league.
He joins fellow Brazilian new-boy Giovanni Silva De Oliveria and Swede Sonny Andersson as Barcelona's third recent signing as they seek to fill the hole left by Ronaldo's departure to Inter Milan.
Thursday, 11pm: McManaman dines out with adviser Fuller believing the deal has collapsed.
Friday am: McManaman flies home to Merseyside ready to pick up the pieces of his career with Liverpool.
And the dream move looks like ending in a nightmare.
The collapse of the deal also left Liverpool cursing because the pounds 12million fee would have meant they had recouped their entire summer outlay on Paul Ince, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Karl Heinz Riedle and Danny Murphy.
They had rejected a pounds 8million offer from the Spanish club before Euro 96, with Evans describing McManaman as "priceless".
Meanwhile, Evans is lining up a pounds 3million swoop for Inter Milan defender Massimo Paganin, who has been recommended by Ince.
That deal is still likely to go ahead - but Evans will be looking to sell again to try to balance the books.