One of the great wonders of the transfer window is why clubs, agents and players often leave it so late to push through with a deal.
Yet, from Peter Odemwingie’s exploits to West Ham United’s double capture of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, it is a constant source of entertainment for football fans.
The next deadline day is fast approaching and no doubt football fans will be glued to Sky Sports News HQ and Twitter on Monday, bracing themselves for the next great bizarre turn of events.
More often than not, it is fringe players who find themselves itching for a last-minute move, as they bid to save themselves from a bench role with their current employers.
Sky Bet offer more than 60 markets on the immediate future of players from the Premier League, Football League and beyond, and here are just some of the squad men the bookmakers expect to be making headlines on deadline day.
Fresh fears over an ankle injury to Olivier Giroud may see the German stay at Arsenal for another window, but he has got no shortage of suitors should the Gunners allow him to leave before the summer deadline. As things stand, Juventus and Wolfsburg are joint-favourites at 1/1 apiece, and it looks as though it is a straight fight between the pair. Galatasary are next in line at 6/1, while AC Milan are still trying to secure a replacement for Mario Balotelli – they are 8/1 outsiders to buy Podolski. With only continental sides seemingly interested, Podolski could be forgiven for demanding any move takes place before the madness of deadline day, but the extent of Giroud’s injury could yet dictate his future.
Danny Welbeck’s future at Manchester United has been up in the air since last season’s dark days under David Moyes. The England international has stated his discontent with his lack of game time and, when he actually does make it onto the field, he is rarely happy with his positional role in the team. Tottenham Hotspur were the initial favourites, according to Sky Bet, but Everton are now leading the race at 1/1, pushing Spurs out to 5/1. However, the proposed signing of Samuel Eto'o may see a reshuffle in the odds, and Sunderland look the best pick of the outsiders at 9/1, while Steve Bruce is 12/1 to take him to Hull City, having managed Welbeck during his loan spell at the Stadium of Light.
John Obi Mikel
Now entering his ninth season at Stamford Bridge, it would take an opportunity too great to turn down for John Obi Mikel to leave Chelsea. Having only broken the 30-game barrier once in his nine Premier League campaigns, Mikel is the definition of a solid squad man, but at 27 years old he is approaching what should be the best years of his career. As such, the prospect of a new challenge may appeal to the Nigerian, who has been linked with moves to Serie A and Ligue 1. Although they are enduring a decline, the lure of AC Milan must prove tough for any elite professional, and they are 5/2 favourites for Mikel having shown an interest earlier in the summer. Montpellier are 5/1, followed by Inter Milan and Lille at 6/1. However, at 5/2, the odds are against Mikel moving to the San Siro.
Although Daniel Agger has denied making an emotional request to leave Liverpool for first-team football, there is no doubt the Dane is way down the pecking order at Anfield. Agger has new £20m arrival Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho all in front of him, and his best days in a red shirt are almost certainly behind him. His most memorable years will be the ones under Rafael Benitez, and the Spaniard is 9/2 to take Agger to his current club, Napoli, before the deadline. Atletico Madrid are the 7/2 favourites, though, while his first club, Brondby, have also shown an ambitious interest – they are 5/1. Barcelona have courted the player for many years, allegedly, but their interest has waned and they are therefore 12/1 outsiders. However, as Agger is currently nursing a knee injury, the odds are against him moving on in this window.
Not many squads can get away with having a player of Sami Khedira’s quality as a fringe player, but then Real Madrid are the European champions. As is typical with Real, they have tried to fix what is not broken by investing heavily this summer, paving the way for high-profile departures such as Angel di Maria and, potentially, World Cup winner Khedira. At one stage, Arsenal were 1/10 favourites to sign the midfielder, before Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly showed an interest. All this came prior to Real boss Carlo Ancelotti claiming Khedira would not be signing a new deal at the club, before subsequently revealing their issues had been “resolved”. Whatever the truth, Bayern Munich have taken notice, and now lead the race as 4/6 favourites. Arsenal are still available at 7/2, the same price as United, while Chelsea are now well out of the picture at 8/1.
Scott Sinclair’s development has stuttered during his time at Manchester City, for whom he has made just 11 Premier League appearances. To call Sinclair a fringe player at City would be generous on the 25-year-old, but he showed through his time at Swansea City that he belongs at Premier League level. A loan spell at West Bromwich Albion last season did not quite go to plan, but his next permanent move could define his career, which has lacked any real stability. Sunderland are 8/11 favourites, while a return to Swansea can be backed at 5/1. West Brom are not expected to follow up their interest at 16/1, while a drop down to Championship level for first-team football appears unnecessary, with Derby County (8/1) and Middlesbrough (10/1) given long odds.
For Petr Cech to be labelled a squad player would have been unthinkable two seasons ago, but the emergence of Thibaut Courtois promises to provide the Chelsea veteran with one of the toughest challenges of his career. Sky Bet expect him to stay and fight for his place, going 4/9 on Cech remaining at Stamford Bridge beyond the summer transfer deadline, and 13/8 to leave for any club. Wealthy Ligue 1 clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco are keeping tabs, though, and are available to back at 5/2 and 5/1 respectively. Cech does not come across as the type of man to walk away from a challenge, and it is perhaps the type of competition the Czech Republic international needs to rediscover his top form, although in truth his level never dropped significantly.
Odds are subject to change.