Bit awkward: 10 players who didn’t get the move they wanted this summer

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Despite a flurry of moves at the end of the transfer window, plenty of wantaway players found themselves stuck at the same club where they began the summer.

Teams from Europe’s big five leagues spent an estimated €5.5bn over the summer, with nine-figure deals involving Antoine Griezmann and João Félix among the most eye-catching moves.

But what of those who didn’t get the switches they wanted? We’ve picked out a few of the bigger names who have been left twiddling their thumbs.

Christian Eriksen

“I wish I could decide just like in Football Manager,” Eriksen told Danish publication Ekstra Bladet when quizzed on his future, but he accepted football doesn’t work like that.

The Tottenham midfielder made his intention to leave north London clear at the end of 2018-19 but nothing was agreed and he remained at the club after the European window closed.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino left the former Ajax man out of his first couple of matchday XIs, but Eriksen scored after being recalled for the north London Derby.

With 12 months left on his contract, they might as well cherish him for this last season.

Hatem Ben Arfa 

Former PSG and Newcastle man Ben Arfa posted on social about having received plenty of offers, but nothing of the sort materialised for the 32-year-old.

He left Rennes at the end of the 2018-19 season, having helped them to Coupe de France glory, but remains a free agent.

West Ham are among the clubs linked with the French international, but he revealed – in his own unique way – none of the proposals put to him have excited him enough to prompt a deal.

Marcos Rojo

The Argentina international, who joined the Red Devils after reaching the World Cup final in 2014, was expected to be part of the club’s mass exodus this summer as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried to clear the squad of deadwood.

A mix of injuries and a loss of form have seen Rojo make just 14 Premier League appearances across the last two seasons.

Tabloid reports suggested he was “fuming” when a loan move to Everton collapsed, while later in the window Monaco, AC Milan and Marseille were all linked with the defender, but nothing ever materialised and he remains at Old Trafford.


Having signed for PSG for a world record €222million fee in the summer of 2017, an exit strategy was always going to be problematic for Neymar, who reportedly had his heart set on a return to Spain.

The Brazilian spent plenty of time sidelined in Paris, or having his off-field activities scrutinised, and the French champions were said to be willing to let him go. But neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona were in a position to stump up the cash.

“Players will have to be more responsible than before,” club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told France Football earlier this summer, pointedly.

“It must be completely different. They will have to do more and work harder. They are not there for their own amusement. If they do not agree, the doors are open – Ciao!

“I do not want star behaviour anymore.”

It’s set to be a peculiar, potentially extremely awkward, season ahead for Neymar.

Gareth Bale 

Bale’s future in the Spanish capital looked untenable at one stage as Zidane declared: “We hope he leaves soon. It would be best for everyone.

“I have to make decisions. We have to change. The exit is the coach’s decision, and also of the player, who knows the situation.”

The Welshman was set to sign with Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning, who reportedly offered him a £1million-a-week contract on a three-year deal. But the move broke down as the Spanish giants were unhappy not to recoup much of the €100m they paid for him in 2013.

He’s started every La Liga game of the season so far, including an eventful game against Villarreal that saw him get sent off after scoring a brace.


READ: ‘He doesn’t know how to play football’ – How Gareth Bale proved Spain wrong

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha had his hopes of joining Arsenal, who he supported as a boy, kiboshed when the Gunners instead opted to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club-record £72million fee.

That deal also had a knock-on effect for interested party Everton, as Marco Silva’s Toffees signed Alex Iwobi as their new wide forward option, with the Nigerian international deemed surplus to requirements at the Emirates after Pepe’s arrival.

Expect his name to crop up again in the gossip columns in January.

Paul Pogba

Zidane is reportedly extremely keen on his fellow French World Cup winner, but the Real Madrid manager didn’t quite get the revolution in the squad that he was hoping for this summer.

With Eden Hazard out injured, Los Blancos have lined up so far this season with pretty much all the same outfield players that were at the club when Zidane left in 2018.

Having failed to receive funds for the likes of Bale and James Rodriguez, spending over €100million on Pogba – on the record as wanting to leave Manchester United – never seemed on the cards, especially after the club had already spent €250million on Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo.

Hakim Ziyech

It was expected that Ajax’s remarkable side of last season, who were minutes away from reaching the Champions League final, would be picked apart as Monaco’s Ligue 1 winners of 2017 were.

Homegrown talents Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt left the club, but the Eredivisie champions did well to keep the rest of the core together, including Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech, who announced himself with 21 goals in all competitions last season.

“He leaves when a top club comes. He is in focus because of his achievements in the Champions League,” said the club’s director Marc Overmars.

“Many big clubs are buzzing around him. We promised Hakim [that we would] agree to a good transfer.”

Despite reported interest from Real Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, a transfer never transpired. He’s started the new campaign in good form, scoring four goals in four Eredivisie appearances.

Serge Aurier

The Ivorian has been a frequent fixture of the transfer rumour mill since last season, despite Tottenham’s other senior right-back Kieran Trippier being allowed to leave for Atletico Madrid.

With Kyle Walker-Peters out injured, the writing really looked on the wall for Aurier when he was snubbed in the north London derby, with Davinson Sanchez instead being played out of position instead.

But the European transfer window has since passed, and with it any chance of suggested moves to Milan or back to PSG.

Sami Khedira 

Maurizio Sarri made the novel complaint earlier in the summer that Juventus have too many good players.

He’s got a point, though, given he’s had to leave Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic out of his squad for the Champions League, and the star-studded midfield includes Aaron Ramsey, Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi, Adrien Rabiot, Rodrigo Bentancur and Can.

Juventus were reportedly looking to offload a number of players over the summer, including the World Cup and Champions League winner, but nothing ever happened. The papers reported he turned down a move to Wolves.

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