by Peter Ames
There can be little doubt that the transfer window has been a brilliant addition to football. Its opening sparks a gathering blaze of whisper and rumour that builds into the wildfire madness of deadline day. Throughout the summer months the press regularly abandons good sense in favour of sensationalism, and the results can be spectacular. Listed below are the most unlikely, amusing, optimistic, and downright absurd tales that show silly season at its bonkers best.
10. Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal) and Philippe Mexes (AC Milan): Swap
Swap deals are rumoured every transfer window and they never happen. Arsenal are said to be interested in Philippe Mexes every window and a deal never happens. The Gunners, with Per Mertesacker already on the books, do not need another statuesque centre half, and does any club really need Nicklas Bendtner? This deal seems unlikely.
9. Guti (Free Agent) to West Ham
According to the Daily Mail in June, José María Gutiérrez Hernández (‘Guti’) was both training with the Hammers, and interested in signing a contract. One glance at the immaculate blonde locks of the former Real Madrid man is enough to raise the question of whether he is a player that the considerably more prosaic Sam Allardyce would realistically take under his wing. He is also a passing midfielder, a position that ‘Big Sam’ seems to view with suspicion and contempt. Needless to say, Guti is now officially retired.
8. Olivier Giroud (Montpellier) to Queen’s Park Rangers: £50 million
With Blackburn Rovers being relegated, the award of ‘most optimistic transfer policy’ in the Premier League is passed to QPR. The Daily Mail reported on 7th June that last year’s relegation survivors were looking to the French striker in an ambitious move to bolster their attacking options. Neither the tale of QPR’s ambition, nor the lofty price tag of their target proved to be entirely on the mark, as Arsenal signed the player for around £10 million.
7. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) to Paris St. Germain: £100 million
It is impossible to say who the Metro’s elusive ‘sources on the continent’ are, but it is safe to say that they are not reliable after this gargantuan deal failed to materialise. Despite PSG being so rich that they could afford to build a new stadium on Jupiter, they chose to spend around €140 million most other players in Europe instead. Wayne Rooney was subsequently left in peace to go and be disappointing in the Euros.
6. Nani (Manchester United) to Manchester City: £? (It doesn’t matter, it won’t happen)
Whilst it is true that Manchester United’s Portugese winger is yet to sign a new contract, the Daily Star’s rumour from 8th July seems unlikely. With Manchester City selling the equally mercurial and equally infuriating Adam Johnson, it would seem a strange decision to replace him with a more expensive Portuguese version.
5. Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal) to Tottenham Hotspur: So ridiculous that no-one even bothered to make up a price
It takes quite a lot to cheer up an Arsenal fan at the minute but the unlikely sale of disappointment-merchant Marouane Chamakh to Spurs, as reported by the Daily Mirror in August, may have been just what they needed. A man described by Arsenal podcast ‘The Tuesday Club’ as the player that they most wanted to see in a Spurs shirt; Chamakh’s sale to their fiercest rivals would surely have raised a few smiles, even on the gloomiest night at the Emirates. This rumour was, however, refuted the next day.
4. Rod Fanni (Marseille) to Wigan
A perfectly plausible suggestion from the Sun (2nd July), but the notion of listening to John Motson say ‘Fanni’ every week, whilst attempting to retain his supreme professionalism, is a deeply heart-warming thought. It is a feat that only the dark lord Mark Lawrenson is humourless enough to accomplish. Robbie Savage must be kept away at all costs. And speaking of Robbie Savage…
3. Robbie Savage (Strictly Come Dancing) to Rangers F.C.
As is often the case with Wrexham’s favourite son, and four-time winner of finest hair in the Valleys (probably), the truth is indeed stranger than fiction. On the 27th July the Daily Record reported Savage’s claim that he would play for the newly reformed Scottish club if required. The Scottish Third Division; ‘I’d p*** it’ he claimed sportingly. He was, however, not required, particularly as he was unavailable to play on Saturdays due to media commitments (i.e. shouting at people on 5live).
2. Usain Bolt (The Jamaican National Sprinting Team) to Manchester United: ‘Trial’
After Bolt’s Olympic triumph he once again stated his desire to play for Manchester United. Rio Ferdinand replied on Twitter; promising to arrange a trial with ‘the Boss’. I hope this was tongue-in-cheek, I fear it was not. Exciting though the prospect of Bolt in the Premier League may seem, consider the reality of watching a man whose playing style would most likely resemble Shaun Wright-Phillips playing with Shaun Wright-Phillips on his shoulders.
1. Joey Barton
The strange tale of Joey Barton’s summer has to take the number one spot. He has become something of a footballing nomad in an increasingly entertaining quest to escape a twelve game ban. Potential moves to Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday, and most bizarrely to League Two’s Fleetwood Town, have been mooted but soon denounced. Recently he appears to be destined for Marseille, but even there he may not escape the punishing eye of the Football Association. A further obstacle standing in the way of Barton becoming (probably in his own mind) the French side’s greatest midfielder since Didier Deschamps, is that he would have to copy his Nietzsche quotes into Google Translate before copying them onto his Twitter page; an inconvenience.
Honourable Mentions: Anzi Machakala’s rumoured bid of around £54 million for Falcao (Colombia Press, 22nd August); A. C. Milan’s alleged pursuit of Andy Carroll (presumably as a measure to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s barber in business [Various]); Diego Maradonna’s Al Wasl’s admirably ‘serious’ bid for Didier Drogba (sport360.com, 2nd June); Finally Danny Guthrie (not strictly transfer related but there was rumoured to have been a ‘lobster fight’ at his wedding [Telegraph, 10th June])