Five hijacked transfers as Liverpool swoop late for Luis Diaz

Ian Watson
Roy Keane and Emmanuel Petit are unveiled by Man Utd and Arsenal

Tottenham laid on a cab for one of Arsenal’s best Premier League-era signings, while Man Utd were snubbed over a £120,000 house, a white BMW, and a sunbed.

With Liverpool set to complete the signing of Luis Diaz from under the nose of Spurs, here are five other deals that took a late twist…


Paul Gascoigne
“Go and enjoy yourself, Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United,” Gazza told the Red Devils boss in 1988.

“So I went on my holidays,” wrote Sir Alex in his autobiography. “But Martin Edwards rang and said I’ve got some bad news – he signed for Tottenham.”

How did Spurs do it? With the lure of a house for Gazza’s parents and a sunbed for his sister.

“He went on holiday and I was driving to Old Trafford. The phone went, and it was Irving Scholar,” Gascoigne later reflected.

“He asked what I wanted in my contract and I asked for a nice house for my family. I rang my dad up and said ‘Spurs have offered a house’ and he said ‘what are you waiting for?’. I rang back and said my dad would like a car, a white BMW with a private reg on and they said ‘consider it done’.”

“But the phone rang again and it was my sister. She said ‘If mam’s getting a house and dad’s getting a car, I want a sunbed’. Irving said ‘consider it done… just get here’.”

Gazza also revealed later that he was worried about dislodging Bryan Robson and Neil Webb from United’s midfield. But it was the sunbed that swung it.


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Roy Keane
Ferguson felt more comfortable going on holiday having been told by Keane that he would join United in 1993.

Keane, though, had already said the same thing to Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish the previous week. Rovers were on the up, bankrolled by Jack Walker’s fortune, and they wanted to make Keane the most expensive player in Britain.

They agreed a £4million fee with Nottingham Forest, who allowed Keane to talk to Dalglish. The pair reached an agreement and the manager wanted the deal signed there and then. But it was late on a Friday afternoon and there was no-one in the office at Ewood Park to sort the paperwork.

Keane and Dalglish parted for the weekend, which gave Fergie his chance. He asked to meet Keane, who returned from Cork to play snooker with the United boss. Despite offering a lower salary and transfer fee, Keane’s heart was set on Old Trafford.

So he had to break the news to Dalglish – a conversation Keane recalled in his autobiography.

“’What the f*** do you mean? We shook hands on a deal. You can’t back out now.’

“‘Look, I’m sorry, I really am,’ I told him, ‘but I’ve got my future to think about, I’m entitled to that.’

“’You’re entitled to nothing except the commitment you made to me on Friday.’

“’I’m sorry, if you’d had the forms ready, I would have signed on Friday.’

“’Nobody does this to me, nobody does this to Kenny Dalglish. You’re a wee b*stard and you won’t get away with this.’”


The Brazilian winger was attracting attention from across Europe in 2018 but it seemed Roma had won the race.

The Serie A side confirmed they had a reached an agreement with Bordeaux and Roma fans organised a welcome committee at the airport for their new hero’s arrival.

But he never showed up. Barca made a late dash for the player, offering Bordeaux a better deal, which they were happy to take. So Malcom boarded a jet bound for Barcelona instead.

“It is easy to explain, but hard to understand,” said Roma sporting director Monchi. “We reached an agreement with the player, his agent and Bordeaux. He was due to arrive for his medical at 11pm. Everything was done, so we were calm and confident.”

“We’re weighing up things up at the club, to see if we can take any legal action. Although we don’t have any signed documents, I have lots of messages from his agent and Bordeaux’s president. That’s something worth considering.”

Malcom’s agent later claimed that custard-pieing Roma served as “revenge” after the Italian club used a different agent to sign another of his clients, keeper Daniel Fuzato.


David Silva
Lazio really wanted the Spaniard in 2020 when he left Manchester City as a free agent. So much so that the Italians reportedly made ‘big sacrifices’ to offer £52,000 a week for three years, a luxury home and private jet.

It almost did the trick. Silva reportedly agreed to move to Rome and Lazio scheduled a medical. Then El Mago turned his phone off, stopped taking Igli Tare’s calls, and moved to Real Sociedad instead.

“I learn about David Silva’s transfer to Real Sociedad,” Tare said in response. “I have great respect for the player, but not for the man.”


Emmanuel Petit
The then-Monaco midfielder flew to England in 1997 to meet with Tottenham chairman Alan Sugar.

Petit was receptive to what Sugar had to say, and Spurs wanted the deal done. But the France international asked to mull it over. So Sugar called him a taxi to take him back to the airport. But Petit took a de-tour, as he told The Mirror in 2018.

“Tottenham put the contract on the table for me,” he said. “I needed a couple of days to think about it but they didn’t expect what happened after that.

“When the cab came, he took me straight to Arsene Wenger’s house, it was the first time I met David Dein and Tottenham paid for the cab to help me sign for Arsenal. It’s part of the legend now.

“I knew the rivalry but not how big it was. David Dein still loves that story – and 20 years later he’s still telling it!”