Seven transfers scuppered by medicals: Van Nistelrooy, Ba, Boyd & more

Quick Reads

It never ceases to be exciting as a football fan to hear your club is set to sign a new player – but occasionally transfers fall through for the most unexpected of reasons.

When you hear a player has been signed ‘subject to a medical’, you always assume it’s a formality. After all, if a player has been fit enough to play for one club, he’ll surely be deemed fit enough to sign for another.

That doesn’t always prove to be the case, however, as this lot discovered.

Demba Ba

In January 2011, Ba was all set to join Stoke City in a £6million deal from Hoffenheim, only for the Potters to then propose a loan move – which could not be agreed – after concerns over the medical.

“Yes, I was surprised,” he told Sky Sports. “I really thought I was going to pass the medical easily because I played all the games over the first half of the season.

“I am sure 100% that I can finish this season and play my whole career with no problems.”

Ba went on to instead join West Ham, scoring seven goals in 13 appearances before moving on to Newcastle United and Chelsea.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy went on to become one of Manchester United’s greatest goalscorers of the Premier League era when he joined the club in 2001, but it very nearly didn’t happen.

The striker was set to move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2000, but failed two sets of medical tests and the transfer was cancelled.

Later that week Van Nistelrooy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, keeping him out for a year, but United resurrected the deal once he had proved his fitness.

READ: A tribute to Ruud van Nistelrooy and the playground art of goalhanging

Charlie Austin

“I didn’t really want to play football after that to be honest,” Austin told FourFourTwo in 2014 while reflecting on a failed medical which saw a move to then-Premier League outfit Hull City collapse.

The striker went on to join QPR instead, firing the side to promotion in his first season.

In 2015, a potential transfer to West Ham failed to materialise after Hammers chairman David Sullivan told the KUMB podcast: “They say he has no ligaments in his knee.”

Austin hit back, defending his fitness and accusing Sullivan of making “an outrageous slur” on his professionalism.

John Hartson

Hartson became a hero at Celtic, scoring 109 goals in five years at the club, but he very nearly joined fierce rivals Rangers the year prior to his move to Parkhead.

The transfer from Wimbledon fell through, and the striker told Open Goal earlier this year that he “dodged a bullet” by not moving to Ibrox.

Hartson also failed fitness tests ahead of potential transfers to Tottenham and Charlton.

George Boyd

One of the more bizarre cases; Boyd saw a move from Nottingham Forest to Peterborough collapse in 2013 not due to concerns about his fitness, but due to an “inconclusive eye test”.

“Total disgrace, the whole thing,” Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony tweeted. “I’m devastated for George. I got a phone call off him in bits.”

George agreed terms with Forest and went there for a medical.

“He said that he passed the medical then they made him do an eye test. He’s played 300 games and scored from the halfway line the other month, but Forest say he has an eyesight problem.”

Loic Remy

After starring in the Premier League for first QPR and then Newcastle, Remy appeared on his way to Liverpool in an £8million move in 2014.

Liverpool, however, were concerned about a potential problem with the striker’s heart, and he eventually joined Chelsea.

Gabriel Milito

A Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2011, Miito almost joined Real Madrid almost a decade earlier, only for the move to be cancelled due to a problem with his knee.

The defender instead headed to Real Zaragoza, where he spent four seasons before moving to the Nou Camp.

Disaster struck for Milito, however, when he suffered a serious knee injury at the end of his first season at Barca, ruling him out for almost two years, including the club’s Treble-winning season.


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