One per club: Players stranded as the transfer window shut

Dave Tickner
James Rodriguez Ainsley Maitland-Niles Tanguy Ndombele Transfer feature

There were lots of transfers during this summer window. Like, a lot. Even by transfer window standards. But not everyone got the move they wanted/expected/needed. Poor Jesse Lingard.

Some are now stranded until at least January – unless a Turkish club embarks on a rescue mission – with nothing but a hefty wage packet to comfort them. Here is one player per club who could have done with finding a way out. Some of these were quite hard, others very straightforward. For instance…


Arsenal – Ainsley Maitland-Niles
The banter answer is everyone. Everyone at Arsenal is stuck. A sensible answer would compile a good half-dozen genuine contenders while noting that Willian gave up £20.5m in wages just to get away. But really, there is no point looking further than a player who went full Darren Bent on social media, a move whose self-defeating ineffectiveness – not to mention embarrassing naffness – is now so widely accepted that not even the Clown Car Kanes tried it. ‘All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play,’ he lamented on Instagram as a move to Everton failed to materialise. The inevitable ‘clear the air’ talks followed, but it’s at best an uneasy ceasefire. It’s the sort of thing that might all blow over somewhere that isn’t already an absolute costume of a football club. But this is Arsenal.


Aston Villa – Keinan Davis
Villa have had a very good and very grown-up transfer window in which precious little has gone wrong. Even the departure of Jack Grealish was handled impeccably on all sides, unlike certain other high-profile transfer sagas of this summer, and Villa pre-emptively invested their once-in-a-generation windfall notably well. But the outgoings were also smartly done, with a streamlined squad looking very much the part now fringe players like Wesley and Conor Hourihane have departed on loan. The one player on the edge of things not to get such an opportunity was Keinan Davis and that was down to pure bad luck. Feeding on scraps even last season when Ollie Watkins was literally the only striker, Davis faces an even tougher landscape now with Danny Ings on the scene. But Davis knows this, Villa knew this and he would have been out on loan right now but for a poorly timed injury. Terrible news for the 23-year-old, but welcome news for those of us trying to find a problem in Villa’s exemplary squad-building over the last couple of years.


Brentford – Julian Jeanvier
Spent last year on loan in Turkey. Comes back to find Brentford in the Premier League and even more barriers to a first-team return


Brighton – Jurgen Locadia
After MLS side FC Cincinnati declined the opportunity to buy or even extend the loan of the striker following an underwhelming season stateside, it was still widely assumed the Jurgen Locadia would be on his way out of Brighton somewhere or other. Then he posted and deleted a picture of himself playing for Brighton on Instagram to muddy the waters. Then he unfollowed the club. And yet, here we are, it’s September and somehow he’s still there. The one-time club-record signing is entering the final year of his contract having played just 43 games and scored six goals for Brighton in all competitions.


Burnley – Kevin Long
He would entirely dismiss notions of being stuck, of course. After 11-and-a-half seasons at Burnley, Long has seen the club’s rise first-hand and is thrilled to be part of it. He’s got a contract until 2023 and everyone seems to be happy for him to see it out. But with Burnley going quite crazy and actually signing some players this summer – including even a foreign! – Long looks further away than ever from first-team football. After 22 Premier League appearances across the last three seasons, the chances of him making it 30 in four seasons seem slender. He hasn’t made a Premier League matchday squad since March. But he’s still living his best life.


Chelsea – Ross Barkley
Even Danny Drinkwater got out. Barkley pulled up few trees on loan at Villa last season, but he wasn’t that bad. There is still a Premier League midfielder there but it is not going to be at Chelsea, for whom he last started a league game in July 2020. They lost 3-0 to Sheffield United. At present speed and course, his next league start may also be against Sheffield United. That’s not a compliment to either.

Ross Barkley Newcastle Chelsea F365


Crystal Palace – Jaroslaw Jach
Still at Palace after the music stopped without a switch for the Poland international who has had more loan moves (5) than first-team appearances (1) during his Selhurst Park career. Only one more year of this now.


Everton – James Rodriguez
It was all fun and games under Carlo Ancelotti, wasn’t it? For a little while, anyway. Now it is not fun, for anyone. James has become the ultimate luxury player and will spend the last year of his two-year, £200k-a-week deal at Goodison on the outside looking in. Everton do have the option of a third year, but… yeah they’re probably not going to take that up.


Leeds – Adam Forshaw
Helder Costa’s departure on deadline day represented the last piece of fat trimmed from a squad that looks bang tidy. Nobody still there could reasonably be described as stuck but we have to find someone and Forshaw doesn’t exactly look set for a bumper haul of Premier League minutes after a long injury lay-off. So him, then.


Leicester – Hamza Choudhury
An innocent victim of Newcastle’s nonsense. Through no real fault of his own finds himself back firmly on the fringes of a Leicester midfield in which he started just four league games last season. On the plus side, at least he doesn’t have to play for Newcastle.


Liverpool – Loris Karius
Oh mate, just… how? Liverpool reportedly spent the whole of deadline day trying to find a club for Karius without success. He will therefore spend the next four months at least as arguably Liverpool’s fifth-choice goalkeeper. His final appearance for the club is still the 2018 Champions League final.


Manchester City – Bernardo Silva
Looked set for an exit and keen to find one for most of the summer but a combination of Harry Kane’s failure to extricate himself from Spurs and Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne’s ongoing injury problems saw him stay and start two of the three Premier League games thus far. “Bernardo in his mind is happy – happy in his life and what a player,” said a delighted Pep Guardiola after the 5-0 win over Arsenal. “The year we won the Premier League with 98 points, he was the best player in the Premier League.” Even the wantaway players at City are a) excellent and b) happy. Annoying.


Manchester United – Jesse Lingard
“Sometimes you need to fly the nest and go” was Gary Neville’s assessment of Lingard’s failure to follow Dan James out of Old Trafford after seeing his path to the first team blocked further by the arrival of a certain Portuguese. On the one hand, Lingard seems immensely happy to be ‘stuck’ playing (occasionally) for a club he loves and maybe the odd substitute cameo and Carabao run-out will sustain him. But those joyous, life-affirming and brilliant five months at West Ham hinted at so much more. A return to United bit-part just feels like a huge shame for a 28-year-old with, evidently, so much to offer.


Newcastle – Dwight Gayle
Handed a new three-year deal in the summer despite 14 starts across the previous two seasons and still resolutely behind Joelinton in the pecking order whenever Callum Wilson makes one of his all too frequent jaunts to the treatment room. Baffling, for many reasons.


Norwich – Christoph Zimmermann
Not stuck exactly, but further down the pecking order after the arrivals of Ben Gibson and Ozan Kabak. Early-season illness was poorly timed.


Southampton – Shane Long
Ralph Hasenhuttl was pretty clear that he wanted a larger squad to work with this year in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last season’s collapse in the second half of the campaign. That meant no loan move for Shane Long, who at 34 doesn’t necessarily have a vast amount of time to spend as a spare part. Yan Valery also stays despite dropping further down the right-back pecking order with Tino Livramento’s arrival, but he does at least have time on his side.


Tottenham – Tanguy Ndombele
The galling thing is that Ndombele’s unorthodoxy and creativity is precisely what Spurs’ efficient yet prosaic midfield needs. But it simply cannot come with Ndombele’s apparent lack of effort and commitment. Three very different Spurs managers have now decided Ndombele is a luxury that simply cannot be indulged, and it was Jose Mourinho who worked hardest and came closest to solving the riddle. Nuno’s Spurs are going to be built on the foundations of a rigid defensive shape, and he has already had a marked positive effect on Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez plus, more tellingly, another mercurial talent who fell foul of Mourinho in Dele Alli. Ndombele has a lot of work to do to gain Nuno’s trust. It would be wonderful to think he might go for it, but we have our doubts.


Watford – Dan Gosling
Twenty-four players left Watford this summer after their return to the Premier League so nobody was really left stuck. It’s less than a year since Gosling joined Watford and his versatility means he’ll probably get plenty of gametime here and there. But he’s not going to be a regular and that’ll do us.


West Ham – Andriy Yarmolenko
The flamboyantly talented Ukrainian’s efforts at the Euros should surely have helped earn him either a move or more game time at the London Stadium. But it’s a hard no to the first and it doesn’t look promising for the second.


Wolves – Fabio Silva
Look, we’re struggling here after Morgan Gibbs-White selfishly got himself a loan deal at Sheffield United on deadline day. Honestly, the nerve of some people. It’s like they don’t think about people trying to cobble together features like this at all. So for a lack of alternatives we’ll go Fabio Silva. Not because he’s really actually stuck per se but because his development at the club looks likely to be arse-backwards. Nobody’s fault, but he played far more than expected last year in the wake of Raul Jimenez’s horror injury and will now play far less this year.