By Mark Doyle
While Real Madrid made headlines on September 1 by paying a world-record €100 million to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham, the preceding two months of the summer transfer window were undeniably dominated by proposed deals that failed to materialise.
With that in mind, Goal has decided to put together an all-star line-up of players who were widely expected to leave their respective clubs during the summer, only to end up staying put, for one reason or another.
Given it is the forwards who, rightly or wrongly, nearly always dominate the headlines, as well as command the most exorbitant fees, we have decided to go from front to back.
So, let us begin with an attack comprising three players who, unlike Bale, were unable to force through their respective ‘dream’ moves: Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowksi and Wayne Rooney.
Suarez, of course, did everything he could to secure a transfer away from Liverpool. Indeed, both the striker and Arsenal clearly thought that a bid of £40,000,001 would trigger a get-out clause in the Uruguayan’s contract - but they were wrong. The offer merely succeeded in riling Liverpool so much that they refused to entertain the idea of selling their best player to one of their rivals.
It was a similar story with Lewandowski and Rooney. After losing Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich in acrimonious circumstances, Borussia Dortmund had no intention of allowing Lewandowski to follow the Germany international to the Allianz Arena.
Die Schwarzgelben may have merely postponed the deal, however, with the prolific Polish forward all but admitting in October that he remains bound for Bavaria.
Rooney appeared destined for Stamford Bridge but, when Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho challenged the England striker to put in a transfer request, he declined the invitation. Now, having now rediscovered his best form, he must now be considered Manchester United’s one transfer ‘win’ of the summer.
That’s because United, of course, tried and failed to sign a plethora of players before the start of the 2013-14 season. Indeed, it seemed no midfielder worth his salt didn't turn down a move to Old Trafford during the summer, so it's hardly surprising that two members of our engine room are United targets: Cesc Fabregas and Ander Herrera.
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However, the Spain international ended up staying in Basque country after one of the most comical transfer sagas in recent memory, with three lawyers claiming to represent the English club turning up at the Liga headquarters in the hope of brokering a deal only for the deal to collapse.
Chelsea were, meanwhile, were successfully acquiring attacking midfielders. Indeed, the Blues were so well stocked that Juan Mata felt that he was not wanted by Mourinho. The 25-year-old was heavily linked with Paris Saint-Germain and, although the move never materialised, it could yet happen.
Turning our attention to the back four, United feature again, having failed to sign Fabio Coentrao, although they were not alone in that regard, as Tottenham tried to spend some of their Gareth Bale windfall on the Real Madrid left-back. Mauricio Isla, meanwhile, also seemed destined to switch clubs but his proposed transfer from Juventus to Inter was blocked by Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte for fear of being left without a completely inadequate understudy for Stephan Lichtsteiner.
As for the heart of the back four, well, after Barcelona realised that signing Neymar was probably not the best way to address their still glaring defensive deficiencies, they targeted more than a few centre-halves. However, they signed none of them.
In fairness to the Blaugrana, Mourinho stubbornly refused to let go of David Luiz, while Thiago Silva simply could not afford to leave PSG because, as he so empathetically explained, he has mouths to feed.
Victor Valdes could probably sympathise because the Spain international decided over the summer that he just could not justify extending his contract with the Catalans beyond the end of the 2013-14 season. Consequently, he was expected to follow in the footsteps of Radamel Falcao by altruistically giving up Champions League football to help poor Monaco return to their former glory. The move never happened, of course, but it probably will next summer...
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