The 10 most shocking Premier League transfer hijackings - including Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man Utd deals

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The deals that nearly were, and how they never came to be...

You have to feel for West Ham. David Moyes and his boys are really not having the summer that they were hoping for.

First, Declan Rice bid farewell to the Hammers so that he could shuffle across the capital to Arsenal, then the Irons have been soundly frustrated in every effort to replace him, despite the British record transfer fee they currently have burning a hole in their back pocket.

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And now, to top it all off, they have been beaten to the signature of promising Manchester City attacker Carlos Borges by Dutch giants Ajax. It looked for all the world as if the teenager would turning out in claret and blue next season, but the lure of the Eredivisie proved too strong, and now West Ham have been left out in the cold.

But by no means are the Hammers the first Premier League club to be involved in a transfer hijacking. Here are 10 more of the best...

The top ten most shocking Premier League transfer hijacks The top ten most shocking Premier League transfer hijacks
The top ten most shocking Premier League transfer hijacks | NationalWorld

Arnaut Danjuma

A recent example to start us off, Danjuma looked to all intents and purposes to be on his way to Everton on loan from Villarreal in January before Tottenham swooped in at the very last moment to lure him to north London instead. Interestingly, after a fairly underwhelming stint with Spurs, he has ended up signing for the Toffees this summer anyways. You can run, you can hide, but you cannot escape your fate.

Tyrell Malacia

Malacia has yet to properly ignite his career at Old Trafford, but Manchester United will be hoping that he comes good after pushing so hard to sign him last summer. The Red Devils pipped French outfit Lyon to his signature, and even left transfer guru Fabrizio Romano with egg on his face after the renowned reporter gave Malacia’s expected Ligue 1 switch the ‘Here We Go!’ seal of approval.

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John Obi Mikel

The hijack giveth and the hijack taketh away. Way back in the sepia-tinged days of 2005, Manchester United even went as far as to unveil Mikel at a press conference in a brand new home shirt before Chelsea intervened and stole him away from the Red Devils. The Blues claimed that they already had an agreement in place with the player’s agent, and after an investigation from the Premier League, they were allowed to keep the Nigerian, provided that they paid United £12 million in compensation.

Moussa Sissoko

There’s something really amusing about the mental image of Moussa Sissoko turning off his phone to avoid a barrage of calls from an increasingly irate then-Everton manager Ronald Koeman so that he could complete his Tottenham medical in peace. It was fully anticipated that the midfielder would seal a £30 million transfer from Newcastle United to the Toffees in 2016, only for him to whack his mobile into airplane mode and join Spurs instead.

Moussa Sissoko took extreme measures to seal his move to Spurs Moussa Sissoko took extreme measures to seal his move to Spurs
Moussa Sissoko took extreme measures to seal his move to Spurs | Getty Images

Emmanuel Petit

A properly cruel one, this, and made all the more painful by the intensity of the rivalry between the two clubs involved. In 1997, Emmanuel Petit came within a whisker of signing for Tottenham, but instead had his head turned by a last gasp proposal from Arsenal. Speaking to the Daily Mirror years later, he said: “Tottenham put the contract on the table for me, I needed a couple of days to think about it but they didn’t expect what happened after that. When the cab came, he took me straight to Arsene Wenger’s house, it was the first time I met David Dein and Tottenham paid for the cab to help me sign for Arsenal. It’s part of the legend now.”

Roy Keane

How different things could have been. Roy Keane is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic players in Manchester United’s recent history, but he very, very nearly ended up at Blackburn Rovers instead. The fiery Irishman agreed personal terms with Rovers and everything in the aftermath of Nottingham Forest’s relegation in 1993, but an administrative delay afforded United the opportunity they needed to swoop in. With the Ewood Park office shut for the weekend, Kenny Dalglish was forced to wait until Monday to finalise his latest acquisition, but instead found himself gazumped when Sir Alex Ferguson contacted Keane and convinced him to go back on his verbal arrangement with the Liverpool legend.

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Paul Gascoigne

How desperately Fergie wanted to take Gazza to Old Trafford. The Scot has spoken frankly and openly about his disappointment at missing out on the Geordie maverick back in 1988, a chagrin made worse by his apparent belief that a deal was as good as done. Reflecting on the debacle, he said: “We spoke to him the night before I went on holiday. ‘Go and enjoy yourself, Mr Ferguson, I’ll be signing for Manchester United.’ So I went on my holidays but Martin Edwards [then United chairman] rang and said I’ve got some bad news – he signed for Tottenham.”


Chelsea may have jumped the gun a touch on this one. The rumours are that Real Madrid took umbrage with the Blues selling shirts with Robinho’s name on the back before a deal had been properly ratified, and as such, they sold him to Manchester City instead. Even Robinho himself seemed a tad confused by the episode, and spoke of his delight at signing for Chelsea during a press conference in Manchester.


Willian’s move to Tottenham in 2013 looked to be going off without a hitch; a fee was agreed with Anzhi Makhachkala, the player flew to England, and he even went as far as completing a medical. Then Chelsea tabled a bid and the whole thing unravelled. In the words of the man himself: “I got out of the van, he [his agent] said, ‘We have problems.’ I said, ‘Oh, what happened?’ Then he said, ‘Chelsea made an offer.’ I said, ‘So make do, I’ll get back in the van, you’ll make do and I’ll go to Chelsea, I will not sign with Tottenham.’ I stayed there for eight hours in the training centre. Tottenham’s director said, ‘I’m going to report you to FIFA, this and that, fans here in England will boo you, this and that.’ They made up a lot of things. I got stuck there for eight hours. Then I left and I went straight to meet the Chelsea people to sort the details and sign.”

Mykhailo Mudryk

And finally, one last recent example. Mykhailo Mudryk signed for Chelsea in January, but not before a very public and protracted flirtation with Arsenal. It seemed as if the Ukrainian was destined for a stint at the Emirates, but instead, Todd Boehly’s free-spending Blues came along and blew them out of the water with a deal that was deemed much more beneficial to the forward’s previous club, Shakhtar Donetsk. “Overall, it was the same [bid]. Not approximately the same — it was the same figure. The fixed part, variable part, bonuses. But if you look inside the fixed part and bonuses, it was completely different,” Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin told The Athletic. “Different time (schedule) of the payments, different kinds of bonuses. Yes, we can talk about bonuses, but these bonuses should be somehow achievable and realistic, let’s say. Therefore, in this case, Chelsea was much more serious and fair in some points.”

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