Presently, there are four teenagers that have been the subject of a transfer with sa fee of more than €50m involved. French sensation Kylian Mbappe unsurprisingly tops the list with his transfer from Monaco to PSG commanding a gigantic sum of €180m. He is closely followed by Joao Felix at €126m and Matthijs de Ligt at €85.5m. These signings prove that there is no shortage of suitors who are willing to fork out a fortune to acquire players of immense potential and talent. Nevertheless, this is not a common occurrence.
A plethora of players spend their 20s, the most suited time period for development, at clubs below their pedigree. Failure to attain a deserving transfer can be traced back to multiple reasons, ranging from poor negotiating by the parent club to being frozen out of a team. Subsequently, players are left hanging out to dry while interested teams move on to greener pastures.
Some players who got their transfers eventually
Even though such stories exist few and far between, certain footballers do go onto achieve their 'dream moves' ultimately. The most recent instance in this narrative is Rodrigo De Paul's €35m transfer to Atletico Madrid. After five inspiring but lengthy years at Udinese, De Paul finally earned his move to a 'big' club at 27 years of age.
Another perfect example would be Chelsea's acquisition of Edouard Mendy to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga between the sticks in 2020. Playing in the second tier of French football, just three years back, Mendy kept his head down and continued to hustle. Ultimately, all his hard work paid off as the Senegalese shot-stopper lifted the Champions League with the Blues last season.
Here we take a look at five abandoned stars who are still searching for their fairytale endings.
#5 Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Nabil Fekir was a highly rated playmaker during his time at Lyon. His fine fettle between 2016 and 2018 saw him produce 57 goal involvements in just 89 games for the French outfit. The fact that he played as an attacking midfielder in the center of the field makes his output even more impressive.
This blistering run of form attracted a swarm of top flight clubs, of which Liverpool turned out to be the most tenacious. The emphatic dribbler managed to turn a lot of heads at Anfield with his incredible creative yield. It was a well known fact in 2018, that the Reds were looking for a Coutinho-replacement, having sold the Brazilian to Barcelona earlier that year. With a €60m bid, everything seemed wrapped up for both parties.
However, in the final hour, things went south and the transfer was called off. In a recent interview with L'Equipe, Fekir broke his silence on the topic:
"You want the truth? Even I don’t know, I promise you! I did my medical and then [Liverpool] decided not to sign me. At some point they wanted to have me believe it was because of my knee but an excuse needed to be found."
The France international was transferred to Real Betis for a cut-price rate of €19.75m with an additional €10m in add ons.
#4 Iñaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao)
At just 24 years of age in 2019, Iñaki Williams decided to put pen to paper on a massive, nine-year deal with Athletic Bilbao with a release clause set at €135m. This agreement successfully diminished the possibility of any potential transfer in the future, putting off a hoard of Premier League clubs that were interested in his signature.
One could argue that Williams himself wasn't interested in any transfer dealings, having extended his contract thrice between 2016 and 2019. Nevertheless, links connecting him with the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool still surface from time to time. The versatile forward can easily play on either wings or as a second striker with uniform efficiency, a trait that makes him a much more elusive target.
Even though the Spaniard has been subject to numerous transfer bids, at 27 years of age, his future seems to be set at the Basque club.