Transfer deadline day is something of a tradition on the UK football calendar, providing drama, speculation, last-minute deals, controversy, and big-money transfers. In the wake of the deadline closing on September 1, this year was no exception.
Watched by millions around the UK, football fans were glued to their viewing devices as their teams conducted last-minute business before the 6 p.m. deadline. Transfers are a huge part of the footballing world, and the day itself has taken on a life of its own in recent years, attracting massive media attention and detractors in equal measure.
In a year that broke all records — this year, the total business conducted trickled over the £1 billion mark, with the summer outlay already at £870 million — the biggest story was the collapse of a proposed move for Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
With the goalkeeper wishing to complete a dream move to Real Madrid, a deal that began gaining ground in mid-2015, the deal could not be completed because the correct paperwork was not filed on time, missing the transfer window deadline in Spain by mere minutes. De Gea, who hasn’t played for Manchester United this season, has remained silent at the collapse and has to integrate into a squad that have made arrangements for his departure — they now have three first choice goalkeepers in De Gea, Victor Valdes and Sergio Romero.
As reported by BBC Sport, Manchester United also completed the £36m signing of Anthony Martial from Monaco on a four-year deal. The fee could rise to £58m depending on appearances and goals, but the deal makes Martial, 19, the world’s most expensive teenaged footballer. This isn’t the first time United have paid big for a teenaged prospect, having splashed out £27m for Luke Shaw in 2014 and £20m for Wayne Rooney in 2004. Where Shaw is still settling in, Rooney would go on to captain both club and country and become one of the world’s greatest goalscorers. Only time will tell if Martial, who was also a target for Arsenal, lives up to the price tag.
Elsewhere, Manchester City continued their relentless pursuit of the Premier League title by signing Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for £49m and Kevin De Bruyne from Wolfsburg for £55m. City have stamped their intention of authority on a title they surrendered all too easily last year. Unlike their rivals, City got the transfers settled before deadline day to prevent any last minute hassle. Both De Bruyne and Sterling now join an elite list — the Top 5 biggest transfer fees paid by a British club.
Chelsea, who has started the season in terrible form, made a few signings to bolster their defense, having missed out on Everton’s John Stones. Sky Sports confirms that Chelsea signed Papy Djilobodji from Nantes for an estimated £2.7m and Michael Hector from Championship side Reading for £4m. Otherwise, they were relatively quiet at a time that usually has Chelsea grabbing the headlines.
Liverpool and Arsenal were relatively quiet on the deadline day, with Arsenal only buying one player during the entire transfer window — Petr Cech from Chelsea. Liverpool did business early on in the window — bringing in Christian Benteke, free-agent James Milner, and Nathaniel Clyne, amongst others — but only sold/loaned players on the final day, including Fabio Borini and Lazar Markovic.
Deadline day isn’t without its controversy, though. Where De Gea has remained relatively tight-lipped about his collapsed move to Real Madrid, Sadio Berahino has been very vocal about a rejected transfer that would have taken him from West Bromwich Albion to Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs, who made three bids in total over the summer for the England striker, were declined outright by West Brom and their chairman, Jeremy Peace.
Furious at the lack of negotiation — Berahino handed in a transfer request that was also declined — Berahino took to his Twitter account to express his disappointment. The club are due to hold talks with the player after his outburst, one that will incur the striker a fine.
Though cryptic, it’s clear that Berahino was intent on a move away from the Midlands. If he refuses to play for the club, or goes “on strike,” he could be in breach of contract. According to BBC Sport, Jeremy Peace blames Tottenham Hotspur and chairman David Levy for the dominant approach, one that unsettled the striker.
“We have a key player who has been very unsettled by antics which were designed to get him out of our club cheaply. Those tactics have continued despite my making our position clear in my first conversation with Daniel Levy on this subject in mid-August. I said selling Saido so late in the window was not on our agenda. We are now left with the task of repairing the damage created by this unfortunate episode.”
Whatever the future holds for Berahino, he is a true prospect for England, one that should be nurtured. Whether that takes place at Spurs or West Brom, or elsewhere, Berahino has time on his side — he is only 22 after all.
So, transfer deadline day has concluded for another September. Football fans get to relive it all again in January when the mid-season window opens. With four months of football in between, anything is possible.
If it’s as dramatic and high profile as this transfer deadline day, the fans are in for a treat.
[Images – Getty Images / Oli Scarff and Getty Images / Clive Brunskill]