5 Strangest Transfer Deadline Day Collapses, Including How Tech Ruined David de Gea’s Madrid Move

5 Strangest Transfer Deadline Day Collapses, Including How Tech Ruined David de Gea’s Madrid Move

Byron Pillay
updated at February 2, 2024 at 3:55 PM
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  • West Ham are in a bit of hot water after two of their deals collapsed on transfer deadline day
  • David de Gea once almost joined Real Madrid, but a faulty fax machine spoiled his chances
  • Robert Lewandowski was close to signing for an English side before a volcano stopped him

The January transfer window has officially closed, but it was not without drama.

West Ham have found themselves in hot water over two failed deals, with a computer problem contributing to one not going through.

David de Gea's move to Real Madrid fell through at the last minute.
A malfunctioning fax machine cost David de Gea a chance to join Real Madrid from Manchester United. Image: Simon Stacpoole.
Source: Getty Images

With The Hammers’ technology issues firmly in the headlines, Sports Brief looks at the five strangest stories of a deal collapsing on deadline day.

Computer prevents Fornals from joining Real Betis

We begin with the most recent story, Pablo Fornals’ failed move to Real Betis.

Fornals was all set to leave England and join Real Betis in La Liga in a deal worth £7m. The deal was all set to be completed, but West Ham failed to submit the paperwork in time.

It wasn’t just Fornals who was affected, as Said Benrahma’s move to Olympique Lyonnais also didn’t go through in time.

As noted by 90MIN, Betis’ CEO Ramon Alarcon explained that they were hoping to resolve the matter soon.

"Betis had delivered the documents in a timely manner. West Ham seems to have had a problem with their computer tools. It has not only been in the case of Betis but also in other cases. We hope it will be resolved in the coming days,” he said.

Lyon were also unhappy with the English club, and The Hammers have since been reported to FIFA over both deals.

Fax machine costs de Gea dream move

After four successful years at Manchester United, David de Gea was ready to move on.

After winning the Premier League title with The Red Devils, Real Madrid came calling for the Spaniard. De Gea’s contract in England was expiring the following season, and a return to Spain was too good to pass up.

Unfortunately for the shot-stopper, a fax machine ruined his return. One Football noted that the documents were being finalised and needed to be submitted to La Liga's offices before the midnight deadline, but then the fax machine malfunctioned.

Madrid blamed United for the problem, and the English side blamed Los Blancos, but it all resulted in the keeper remaining in the Premier League.

Peter Odemwingie’s embarrassing transfer attempt

Peter Odemwingie’s story has become the stuff of transfer deadline day legend.

The Nigerian striker was so keen to join Queens Park Rangers from West Bromwich Albion that he travelled to QPR’s grounds to ensure the deal went through. Unbeknown to Odemwingie, West Brom were only willing to part with him if QPR gave them a player in return.

The two clubs could not reach an agreement before the deadline expired, and Odemwingie was forced to sit in his car outside the grounds for over three hours waiting for some sort of news. He also had to deal with the media, who were camped outside QPR’s facilities that night.

Odemwingie was later fined by WBA when he returned to the club for trying to force through a move.

Robert Lewandowski’s English adventure scuppered by volcano

Imagine Robert Lewandowski running riot in England.

While he has gone on to become a lethal striker and has won numerous trophies in Germany and Spain, things could have turned out much different.

In 2010, the Polish striker was close to securing a move to Blackburn Rovers and was supposed to fly to the club to see the facilities before signing for them.

The volcano Eyjafallajökul in Iceland erupted, and air travel around Europe was suspended for several weeks. With no means of getting to England before the deadline day ended, the Lech Poznan striker instead went to Germany and signed for Borussia Dortmund, Football Espana reported.

The failed deal didn’t derail his career, as the Polish striker went on to win two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund before signing for Bayern Munich. He won many more trophies at the German giants and set new records before departing for Barcelona.

Robinho was unsure which team signed him

In 2008, Manchester City splashed out the cash to sign Robinho from Real Madrid, but the Brazilian almost ended up at another English side before that happened.

Chelsea had first approached the Spanish side for Robinho’s services, and the player himself was keen on the move.

talkSPORT reported that the London-based side began selling shirts with Robinho’s name on them before the deal was finalised, angering Madrid in the process. The Spanish side then sold the Brazilian to City, and even he wasn’t sure which club had snapped up his signature.

During an interview after deadline day, Robinho mentioned that he was happy to have signed for Chelsea before a journalist reminded him that he actually signed for City.

There were also rumours that he thought he was going to Manchester United and didn’t realise there was another team in the city when he agreed to the deal.

10 best football transfers in history

There have been many big and influential transfers in the history of football, Sports Brief previously reported.

Chat GPT recently ranked the best football transfers ever completed, with Diego Maradona and Pele both featuring.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain's world record signing of Neymar also make the list.

Byron Pillay photo
Byron Pillay
Byron Pillay is a sports writer and Head of the Department at Sports Brief (joined in 2022) with over 10 years of experience in community journalism and a degree in journalism from Caxton's Cadet School.