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There are 21 days still left for the transfer window to officially begin in England. However, the frenzy has already begun. Arsenal have managed to poach a player from the Bundesliga team of the year for free, Mbappe’s house is queued with all top class managers lining up with bouquets, Chocolate and limousines, Mourinho has started answering awkward questions on his star keeper’s future, and Liverpool have apologised publicly for tapping Saints’ defender.
Everton’s goalscoring beast has already declared that his future lies elsewhere, while Manchester City’s most decorated right back has quietly been let go and purchased yet another expensive midfielder to add to their jaw-dropping collection. This madness has been a regular pattern over the years and some of the transfer dealings in the past have led to weird, heartbreaking or downright hilarious conclusions. However, there were many sagas that dragged for ages without materialising. Here we look at five such gaffes, involving the Premier League teams.
It’s hard to conclude which was higher – the number of folks who claimed to have seen a UFO or the number of folks who claimed to have spotted Higuain in Heathrow. Gonzalo Higuain, a then 25-year-old at the prime of his career was fed up of life on the bench at Real Madrid. And as soon as the window started, the press concluded that Higuain had finalised his move to Arsenal.
This started the frenzy, with everyday articles on how Higuain will line up in Arsenal, Higuain photo-shopped in red and white, several ‘Welcome to AFC’ videos on youtube, multiple tweets claiming to have seen the Argentine in Heathrow. In reality, Wenger, who was initially interested in Higuain, later switched his interest to Suarez and ended up signing neither.
Higuain was quick to move to Napoli that window, scored 71 goals in 104 appearances and his value doubled after 4 years when he made his switch to the old day. And four years since the saga, Arsenal are still waiting for a star striker to replace Robin Van Persie.
A Spanish boy plying his trade in the Premier League, rising to become the most vital player of his team, an absolute fan favorite, wanting to return to his homeland, regularly tapped by players from his star studded would-be team mates – David De Gea’s saga was eerily similar to the Fabregas Saga. However, there was one minor issue that broke down his dream move – a broken fax machine.
Madrid hoped to sign De Gea on the cheap, taking advantage of his contract situation. However, Manchester United, who were fed up with other teams playing hardball at their transfer dealings, decided to return the favor to Madrid and slapped a huge transfer fee. Madrid did not budge and both the clubs were involved in an intense game of poker with no one ready to blink.
Finally, on the last day of the transfer window, Real Madrid budged and decided to match the transfer fee slapped on their prime target. However, the move did not happen as planned finally at the last hour, Man United informed Real Madrid that they did not receive the transfer papers on time because of a broken fax machine.
What followed were weeks of war of words between the two clubs accusing each other for the failed transfer. As childish as the excuse sounded, it turned out to be a masterstroke by United. De Gea went on to sign a new deal, became one of the highest paid keepers and continues to make many jaw-dropping saves.
Robinho was in many ways the icon for Manchester City’s cash-laden new era. He was their first signing which made the big boys take notice and the club announced their ability to fight with the elite. And just like their first Premier League title, their first big money transfer was full of drama.
Robinho was a major target for Chelsea that season and his compatriot Scolari, the then manager of Chelsea, was hell bent on bringing the pint-sized striker to West London.
However, the transfer dealings between Chelsea and Madrid were rugged as Madrid weren’t happy to sell to another team playing in Champions League. The real nadir was reached when Chelsea mistakenly released official Robinho Chelsea shirts for sale.
This completely irked the Madrid management and the transfer talks were broken beyond repair. City made best of the situation and snatched the star Brazilian striker.
Robinho was not only the first big – money City signing but also first of the many big-money signings who failed to shine at the Etihad. His two years at City never really worked and he failed to make any significant contribution. He was then loaned to Santos and finally moved to AC Milan.
It is safe to say that the Brazilian did not live up to his initial hype and had a fleeting career. He is currently plying his trade at Atletico Miniero.
A 19-year-old John Obi Mikel faced the press proudly in his new Manchester United tshirt. He quoted, “I am pleased to get the chance to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world”. Morgan Anderson, the director of Lyn, the club that sold Mikel to United, claimed that Sir Alex Ferguson told him that Mikel would be the new Roy Keane. They also offered a contract even better than the one offered to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Chelsea quickly reacted and claimed they already had a deal in place. What followed were stories of kidnapping, telephone threats and horrible agent dealings. Finally when the dust cleared, 10 days later Mikel revealed that he had been pressured to sign for United and that he always wanted to play for Chelsea.
The bizarre twist was that Chelsea had to pay £4million to Lyn, and 3 times the price (£12million) to United to get Mikel’s service.
The ‘next Roy Keane’ didn’t quite live up to the hype, but he served for a decade in Chelsea colours. He was always considered a great team player but never quite lived up to the hype that his transfer saga augured. He now plies his trade in China.
July 5 2005, the day when Steven Gerrard the Merseyside icon handed a transfer request to his boyhood club. Jose Mourinho’s consistent efforts to sign the Liverpool icon had his head turned and Jose’s persistence looked to finally pay dividends. Fans were shocked and anger filled the streets. Shirts bearing Gerrard’s name were burnt in front of TV cameras and the Liverpool faithful were close to an emotional breakdown.
Fans protested at Anfield and in Melwood training complex and Gerrard was confined to his home. The unimaginable almost happened that season, Gerrard donning the Chelsea blue. As Gerrard later revealed in his autobiography, he had serious questions on where the team was heading under the then Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier. Also he claims that temptations gave way and Jose made him feel wanted.
However, Liverpool reacted quickly and Rafa Benitez was signed to replace Houllier. Rafa managed to convince Gerrard to stay and the world did not witness the unthinkable.
Steven Gerrard became one of the club’s biggest legends and continued to play for almost a decade until he moved to MLS for a solitary year before hanging up his boots. Mourinho again tried to sign him during his time at Real Madrid but Gerrard wasn’t to be tempted again and stayed loyal to Liverpool.
His career at Liverpool was not trophy-laden and he never won the Premier League, with the Champions League final at Istanbul being his biggest achievement. However, he went on to become one of the club’s biggest icons and a poster boy for a decade. He has now returned to Liverpool as an academy coach.