Five tiresome transfer sagas which ended in tears

Date published: Friday 5th August 2016 11:58 - Matthew Stead

Paul Pogba will join Manchester United in the next 48 hours. Just ask the Daily Telegraph. Or the Daily Express. Or the Daily Star. Or the Manchester Evening News.

Of course, it is now over 200 hours since Pogba was 48 hours away from joining Manchester United. The Independent, The Guardian, The Metro and everyone else claimed on July 27 that the deal was ’48 hours’ away from completion. Yet here we are, begging for the latest update.

Pogba will surely return to the club he left as a teenager four years ago in a world-record move some time soon, but what about those tedious transfer sagas which ended not in unveilings and shirt signings, but in tears and tantrums?


Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United
Herein lies a warning to Manchester United fans: As ‘set to’ as the club are to announcing the arrival of Pogba, things may not be quite as confirmed as they seem.

If you remain doubtful, just ask Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman is a unique figure in the world of football, having been linked with Manchester United under each of their last four managers. Sir Alex Ferguson tried, so did David Moyes, so did Louis van Gaal, and so did Jose Mourinho. At least, that’s what the media would have you believe.

In July 2011, the Daily Mail told us that Sneijder had agreed to move to Old Trafford.

In August 2011, the Guardian reported that the Daily Mirror reported that he would join ‘within 48 hours’. It is now 43,728 hours and counting.

In October 2014, the Daily Mirror told us that Sneijder was ‘set for’ a reunion with Louis van Gaal.

In February 2015, the Daily Express claimed that the playmaker was ‘finally set for’ a move to Old Trafford.

In December 2015, The Sun claimed that Jose Mourinho’s ‘first move’ as United manager would be to sign the Dutchman. Mourinho was six months from even being appointed.

Until Pogba is ‘SNAPPED’ posing awkwardly with Ed Woodward, believe nothing.


Gareth Barry to Liverpool
‘Gareth Barry’s transfer to Liverpool finally looks like going through after the Anfield club came up with the money to secure his move from Aston Villa.’

Gareth Barry is not a name synonymous with ‘exciting transfer saga’, but the whereabouts of the man with the most yellow cards in Premier League history was the hot topic of the summer of 2008. Above, Neil Moxley and Simon Jones broke the news: Liverpool had finally got their man.

The transfer ‘will finally be concluded on Thursday’ was the claim, as the Reds had agreed a fee of £17.5m plus Steve Finnan. Poor bloke. Liverpool had tabled bids of £12m and £13m, but Rafael Benitez finally persuaded the erstwhile owners to part with the cash.

That Daily Mail story was published on the morning of July 31. By the evening, Aston Villa had released a statement insisting that Barry would be staying at the club. And that was that.


Patrick Vieira to Real Madrid
It would have been the perfect ending. In summer 2004, Arsenal had just won the Premier League, completing one of the most memorable and historic top-flight seasons in English league football history. Patrick Vieira had led them to an unbeaten 38-game campaign (ignore those pesky cups), and the captain was waving as he walked towards the sunset.

‘Patrick Vieira was on the verge of joining Real Madrid last night after missing training with Arsenal in Austria,’ The Guardian told us in July of that year, under the headline of ‘Vieira close to Real deal’. The Frenchman had been courted by the Spaniards for a while, and looked likely to become the latest Galactico. “Patrick Vieira is a very interesting and important player for us and for our club,” said Emilio Butragueno, Real’s sporting director. This was happening.

A bid of £18m was made. Michael Carrick was lined up as his replacement. And then the captain stayed at the club. He was linked with Real throughout the 2004/05 season, and did eventually leave Arsenal with an FA Cup medal in tow. But it was not for the Spanish capital; he was headed for Juventus.


John Obi Mikel to Manchester United
This was a weird one. In retrospect, two of the biggest clubs in Europe fighting over the signature of John Obi Mikel can only be weird. But in 2005 this was a battle between two Premier League heavyweights for one of the most promising talents in world football.

It was one which Manchester United had won – or at least at first glance. “I am pleased to get the chance to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Mikel said, holding aloft his own United shirt, complete with squad number, posing for photographs. “I’m looking forward to it. I am surprised that a big club like Manchester United wanted me.”

Then a wild Chelsea appeared. The Blues had made their interest public, and Mikel’s head was turned. The Nigerian insisted he was pressured into signing a deal to join United, and that he wished to renege on it and move to Stamford Bridge instead.

Complaints from United, warnings from FIFA, numerous wranglings and a £12m fee later, Mikel was finally adorned in Chelsea blue. A teenage commodity had found a(nother) new home.


Karim Benzema to Arsenal
One of the most tedious love stories of modern times, Karim Benzema is the Juliet to Arsenal’s Romeo. Except Juliet is already with someone bigger and better, Romeo is a tight b*stard who doesn’t fancy spending enough money to impress her, and no-one knows whether Juliet even likes Romeo anyway.

The ‘Benzema to Arsenal’ link has been around for what feels like almost a decade, mainly because it has been almost a decade since it surfaced. This summer seems a step too far to resurrect the rumour, particularly considering the shark was pretty much jumped last year.

On July 5, the Daily Express, according to The Metro, according to Fichajes – thereby completing the most vicious of triangles – reported that Arsenal had ‘stunned Man United and Liverpool with £17.8m deal for sensational French star Benzema’. Seems like a low price, doesn’t it?

By August 19, just over a month later, talkSPORT rectified that mistake. ‘Benzema breakthrough? Arsenal have £48million bid accepted by Real Madrid,’ they claimed.

Just the £30.3m discrepancy in valuation after 45 days then.


Matt Stead

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