Ah, the transfer window. The one thing that keeps football fans active during the off-season, fervently refreshing their Twitter timelines or major news websites to see if that star player was indeed joining their club or not.
Sometimes, it is an exercise in futility. In other instances, it results in frustration as their club’s ‘target’ decides to go elsewhere. But a select few transfers can cause fans to hurl their phones at the nearest hard surface when they realise a rival club has swooped in to sign the player with either a higher transfer fee or better wages.
Here are 10 instances when rival clubs hijacked transfers.
Willian: Joined Chelsea instead of Tottenham (2013)
In 2013, Anzhi Makhachkala decided to cut back on their massive spending and they had to sell one of their biggest assets at the time in Willian. Tottenham were in the driving seat to land the Brazilian winger and the north London club had seen off competition from Liverpool. They were expected to sign Willian for a fee of £30m.
The then-25-year-old had even arrived in London and completed a medical with Spurs as they got ever closer to securing his signature. That was when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made some calls to Anzhi owner Suleyman Kerimov and convinced him to sell Willian to the Blues instead for a higher fee of £32m.
The plan worked and Willian was soon on his way to Stamford Bridge. Tottenham were furious as they felt Chelsea signed Willian not because they really needed him in a side filled with attacking midfielders but to weaken Spurs’ chances – an allegation flatly denied by the Blues.
Jose Mourinho had the last laugh, though, saying: “The best thing you can do is do the medical in secret.”