5 transfers that failed under mysterious circumstances

What exactly went wrong with Nabil Fekir
What exactly went wrong with Nabil Fekir's transfer to Liverpool?
Scott Newman

The January transfer window is currently open, and for fans of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, it’s an exciting time as they await the potential new arrivals at their club. However, not all transfers have a happy ending.

Over the years we’ve seen plenty of big transfers fall apart at the very last minute, often for no rhyme or reason, and an explanation can take years to come out.

Almost all of the Premier League’s biggest clubs have fallen victim to these kinds of issues, so without further ado, here’s a look at five big transfers that fell apart under mysterious circumstances.

#1 Nabil Fekir to Liverpool (2018)

Nabil Fekir was so close to a move to Liverpool, promotional shots of the player were produced!
Nabil Fekir was so close to a move to Liverpool, promotional shots of the player were produced!

In the summer of 2018, Liverpool were coming off their heartbreaking loss to Real Madrid in that year’s Champions League final. With Jurgen Klopp wanting to add some creativity to his squad to make up for the loss of Philippe Coutinho, a solution was identified in the form of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir.

The Frenchman had made 30 appearances for Lyon in the 2017-18 campaign, scoring an impressive 18 goals and registering 8 assists.

Liverpool made their move, and after a few weeks of protracted negotiations, a £59m fee was apparently agreed. The deal looked so “done” that shots of Fekir proudly sporting a Liverpool shirt were even taken.

And then at the last minute, the transfer fell through entirely, leaving Fekir to spend one more season at Lyon before moving instead to Real Betis.

So what happened? The truth still isn’t fully known. According to rumors at the time, Fekir’s medical flagged up a potential issue with his knee, and Liverpool decided not to take the risk.

A later interview with Fekir saw the Frenchman deny this, stating that he’d flown through his medical without his knee being mentioned.

However, Fekir’s former agent has refuted those claims, stating that his knee was indeed the problem – as was the “appearance of a foreign pseudo-representative” who apparently forced their way into negotiations.

At any rate, Liverpool did fine without the Frenchman, winning the 2018-19 Champions League and the 2019-20 Premier League title.

#2 Joao Moutinho to Tottenham Hotspur (2012)

Had things gone differently, Joao Moutinho could
Had things gone differently, Joao Moutinho could've been playing for Tottenham Hotspur right now

Portuguese playmaker Joao Moutinho is currently starring in the Premier League for Wolves, but had things gone slightly differently, he could well have arrived in England’s top-flight almost a decade earlier.

That’s because a move to Tottenham Hotspur, mooted for transfer deadline day in August 2012, fell through at the last minute under mysterious circumstances.

Moutinho was at the time starring for Porto, and Tottenham were looking for a new creative fulcrum for their side following the sale of Luka Modric to Real Madrid.

A move for Moutinho appeared to make sense, particularly as he’d previously played under new Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas during their time together at Porto.

And so a £24m fee was agreed, with the Portuguese international heading to London to finalize the transfer. However, with the clock ticking down towards the 11 pm deadline, the transfer somehow fell through, apparently due to the correct paperwork not being submitted to the Premier League in time.

It felt strange, particularly as Tottenham had become known for doing last-minute transfers in the years that led up to 2012, but things made more sense – if only slightly – when more information came to light.

Reportedly, the stumbling block was the fact that a third-party investor-owned around 15% of Moutinho’s economic rights – and under the Premier League’s rules, any kind of third-party ownership was, and still is outlawed.

Essentially then, there simply wasn’t the time to solve this problem, and so Moutinho remained a Porto player until making a move to Monaco in 2013.

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Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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