Biggest transfer collapses in football

Believe it or not, signing and selling players in real life is not as easy as FIFA makes it out to be.

Clubs can be repaired with a few clicks within the popular video game, but in real life, negotiating a transfer is a different matter entirely.

That sounds obvious, but with the way people are proposing fantasy transfer windows these days and expecting clubs to sign player after player so mercilessly, that’s clearly not the case.

With so much pressure on clubs to close deals and players always desperate for the next step in their careers, the transfer window is a very long one.

Add to that the fans unrelenting desire to see new faces and now endless media coverage of rumours, leaks and signings. It is very difficult to clean up these very delicate deals.

It’s heartbreaking for the fans who can only watch as a potential favorite player misses a chance to become a hero at his new club. It also hurts the players, who have often waited a long time for the big move only to lose and – in some cases – return to their current employers with their tails between their legs.

With the summer transfer window now in full swing – and in honor of Peter Odemwingie’s infamous parking lot nightmare of 2013 – we’re in GIVE MEPORT thought it would be a good idea to look back at some of the biggest strides that failed in football.

11. Loïc Remy to Liverpool (2013)

In the summer of 2013, Liverpool were moments from bolstering their front line with a then-much sought-after Remy from QPR, who agreed a move to Anfield in a £8.5m transfer in July.

However, the Reds pulled the plug after the death as the Frenchman allegedly failed his medical treatment. Remy has since spoken out on the matter, citing that they found a problem with his heart but have been quite ambiguous on the matter. He signed for Chelsea the following month and won the Premier League and League Cup in his debut season.

Remy in action for Chelsea
BANGKOK, THAILAND – MAY 30: Loic Remy #18 of Chelsea FC looks the ball during the International Friendly match between Thailand All-Stars and Chelsea FC at Rajamangala Stadium on May 30, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

10. Robert Lewandowski to Blackburn (2010)

We’ve heard it all before, but it’s a story that admittedly never gets old. Imagine how ridiculously different football would have looked if that ash cloud hadn’t seriously deterred Lewandowski from flying to England in 2010.

The Polish legend had emerged as a prolific young striker at Lech Poznan and was set to meet Sam Allardyce and tour Blackburn’s facilities while a transfer awaited its conclusion. It’s a great shame we never saw just the duo of Big Sam and Lewandowski tear up the Premier League.

9. Daniel James to Leeds United (2019)

It was extraordinary to see this unfold in Leeds’ Amazon Prime documentary series. James sat around the Leeds training ground until eleventh hour, having posed with his shirt off and completed all the paperwork, but the January 2019 move fell through at death.

A change of heart by Swansea’s chairman resulted in him pulling the plug from the deal and leaving James stranded in West Yorkshire, unaware of what had happened. A move to Manchester United would instead come the following summer, who eventually sold the Welshman to Leeds in 2021. Surreal.

James celebrates for Leeds United
LEEDS, ENGLAND – JANUARY 2: Daniel James of Leeds United celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Burnley at Elland Road on January 2, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

8. Paulo Dybala to Tottenham (2019)

Dybala, a man seemingly linked with top clubs every summer for no real reason, actually came very close to joining Tottenham in 2019. However, a move that would see Juventus pocket a £69million fee fell through as Tottenham were unable to find a low-cost circumvention of their image rights.

However, Dybala is available for a free transfer this summer, which could prove more attractive to Spurs and other previously interested parties.

7. Emannuel Adebayor to Aston Villa (2015)

One of the more bizarre entries on this list, Adebayor, like James, had completed all the paperwork and posed with the Aston Villa shirt at Leeds after agreeing to leave Tottenham on a free charge in the summer of 2015.

However, his attempt to reunite with Tim Sherwood on a salary that made him Villa’s highest-paid player fell through on death as Adebayor had a change of heart after apparently needing God’s approval to sign for the club. For real. He signed with Crystal Palace the following summer.

The latest on Gabriel Jesus on Arsenal (Football Terrace)

6. Nabil Fekir to Liverpool (2018)

Fekir was regularly considered a top-class footballer in the 2010s, but he could not take a break due to injury. His performances for Lyon tempted Liverpool to sign him for £53m in 2018 but the deal fell through.

It was pure heartbreak for the creative Frenchman, who later revealed it wasn’t a medical issue with his knee that scuppered the deal, but a hiccup with his agent. He signed for Real Betis the following summer.

Fekir holds his head at Lyon in 2018
LYON, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 7: Nabil Fekir of Lyon reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Olympique Lyonnais and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at Groupama Stadium on November 7, 2018 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

5. Willian to Tottenham (2013)

According to Herman Tkachenko, former director of Anzhi Mackhachkala, Tottenham actually came close to signing Willian in 2013 before Chelsea burst in and hijacked the deal.

Per Tribal Football, Tkachenko revealed Willian was ready to sign at Tottenham’s training ground, but Daniel Levy had stalled over various payments. The Brazilian then received a call from Jose Mourinho while Roman Abramovich showed a desire to complete the deal faster than Levy. And that was it.

Willian in action for Chelsea in 2013
WillLONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 19: Willian of Chelsea in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on October 19, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

4. Roy Keane to Blackburn (1993)

Blackburn missed signing Keane in the summer of 1993 because Kenny Dalglish had collected the wrong forms and, as it was a Friday afternoon, had to wait until the following Monday to finalize the deal.

It was during this period Sir Alex Ferguson came in and signed Keane for United after meeting with him and telling him to wait for the Red Devils to come in and find an agreement with Nottingham Forest. Imagine how different United’s fate would have been if Keane had opted for Blackburn instead.

3. Kaka to Manchester City (2009)

Fresh on the scene and suddenly crammed with cash, Manchester City didn’t hesitate to go straight for the best in January 2009, reportedly depositing £88million in Milan which the Rossoneri told Kaka they would accept.

First of all, Kaka should give the green light for the move and go to Manchester. But after hearing opposition from ardent Milan fans, he got cold feet and changed his mind, sticking with the club until a rabid reaction. City lost and Real Madrid rushed in to sign him this summer.

Milan fans hold up a banner to convince Kaka to stay at the club
MILAN, ITALY – JANUARY 17: Banners held up in support of Kaka during the Serie A match between Milan and Fiorentina at Stadio Meazza on January 17, 2009 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

2. Paul Gascoigne to Manchester United (1988)

Ferguson was keen to get Gascoigne into the Theater of Dreams and play in a late 1980s United shirt. He almost got his man in 1988 when ‘Gazza’ left Newcastle but was ultimately overtaken by Tottenham.

Gascoigne has since spoken out about the ordeal, explaining that doubts about the playing time combined with a bid from Tottenham that dwarfed United ultimately led him to go back on the word he gave Ferguson that year .

1. David de Gea to Real Madrid (2015)

Come on, it had to be, didn’t it? Perhaps the biggest public transfer meltdown we’ll ever see, Real Madrid lost paperwork on deadline day in the summer of 2015 due to formalities when signing a truly world-class goalkeeper.

Real’s pursuit of De Gea has been known for a long time and lasted all summer. When they finally reached an agreement that included a transfer fee plus Keylor Navas en route to United, it seemed settled. Until the documents were not submitted on time and the deal could not be closed. Since then, Real have won four Champions League and three La Liga titles. Bad luck David.

De Gea stayed at Manchester United
LEICESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 28: David De Gea of ​​Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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