The Premier League's forgotten men stuck in transfer limbo

The unwanted big earners stuck in transfer limbo: Barkley hasn’t even got a squad number, Ndombele wants out of Spurs, Jones has been slammed by Ferdinand and James can’t find a new club

  • Several Premier League players failed to seal moves away from their clubs
  • Ross Barkley was given the green light to leave Chelsea but could not do so
  • Tanguy Ndombele told Tottenham he wanted to leave but found no buyers
  • Meanwhile, Phil Jones has fallen further down the pecking order at Man United 

The summer transfer window finally slammed shut on Tuesday night, bringing an end to one of the craziest periods in recent history. 

The closing of the window saw many of the summer’s long drawn-out sagas come to an end but the final week, and deadline day more specifically, still threw up a number of curve balls that left fans wondering what was going to happen next.

Cristiano Ronaldo sealed a sensational return to Manchester United after initially being linked with rivals Man City, while Chelsea sealed the loan capture of Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid. But while the likes of Saul was able to escape football purgatory at the Wanda Metropolitano, others weren’t so fortunate.

Here, Sportsmail looks at the Premier League’s forgotten men who failed to seal moves away from their respective clubs and are now left in limbo until January.

A number of high-profile Premier League players failed to seal moves away from their clubs

Things looked to be on the up for Ross Barkley when he sealed a season-long loan move to Aston Villa last summer, where he helped play a role in the club’s 11th-place finish just a season after the Villains narrowly avoided relegation.

However, after returning to Chelsea this summer, the 27-year-old was preparing to play his football somewhere other than Stamford Bridge once again in order to get regular first-team minutes under his belt.

A return to Villa Park wasn’t on the cards but the likes of Newcastle and West Ham registered an interest in taking the former Everton man on loan for this campaign.

Ross Barkley has become the forgotten man at Chelsea but could still move to Russia or Turkey

His huge £100,000-a-week wages have proved to be a stumbling block to possible suitors and forced them to look elsewhere.

Then, with hours ticking down on deadline day, Barkley was given a glimmer of hope of escaping the Blues when Burnley came calling.

But, just like the past few months, it turned out to be the same old story for Barkley with the Clarets deciding they weren’t interested in the final moments.

It leaves Barkley in quite the predicament – he can stay and get game time with the Under 23s before trying his luck again in January or seal a move to Ukraine, Russia or Turkey in the coming days, given their transfer windows remain open.

Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)

This isn’t exactly what Tottenham fans were expecting when Tanguy Ndombele became their record signing back in 2019. 

The 24-year-old has endured a tough time in north London since his club-record £55million move from Lyon in 2019 and he has played no part of the season so far while his future remained uncertain.

It came to a head in the final weeks of the window when he told the club that he was open to leaving Spurs before asking chairman Daniel Levy to find him a new home, having now struggled under four different managers at the club.

Tanguy Ndombele told Tottenham he wanted to leave this window and is yet to feature

Spurs reluctantly accepted his wish and began a frantic search to ship him out before the window closed but his mammoth £200,000-a-week wages saw nobody even consider a move.

It now leaves the Frenchman in quite a pickle – does he now knuckle down, prove his worth, and finally get the big-money move he desires in January or is it warming the bench in the hope of staying injury-free in the coming months?

There’s no doubt just how exceptionally talented Ndombele is, with many Spurs fans viewing him as the man to fill that hole left by fan favourite Mousa Dembele.

But when the desire and commitment isn’t there, it may be best for Nuno Espirito Santo not to heavily include him and jeopardise this strong start Spurs have made while giving the likes of Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli the minutes they deserve.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)

This was one of the more astonishing transfer stories during the final week of the window.

With less than 48 hours before the window closed, Maitland-Niles extraordinarily took to Instagram to publicly confront Arsenal over why he hadn’t been granted a loan move to Everton.

Everton tabled a formal loan offer with an obligation to buy for the England international, but were rejected by the Gunners with Mikel Arteta intent on keeping the right-back at the club.

Maitland-Niles, who is yet to start for Arsenal this season, became deeply concerned that his career is stagnating at Arsenal due to his lack of action and has since fallen down the pecking order in his preferred position.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles confronted Arsenal on Instagram about why his loan move was blocked 

Maitland-Niles took to Instagram to try and force his move from Arsenal to Everton

New signing Nuno Tavares – who is primarily a left back – Callum Chambers and Cedric Soares have all played in front Maitland-Niles at right-back this season, leaving the 24-year-old frustrated and wanting out. 

His public declaration of ‘All I wanna do is go where I’m wanted and where I’m gonna play’ was not received well by Arteta, but he has since held clear the air talks with the player, insisting that he wants to keep him at the club for the coming season. 

It remains to be seen if Maitland-Niles will get his wish of more minutes, especially how Arsenal aren’t featuring in a European competition this season, but should the situation stay the same, you can bet a six-month loan move will be on the cards once the window reopens in January. 

Phil Jones (Manchester United)

Another forgotten man on this list, Phil Jones was harshly branded ‘a waste of time’ by former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand in the final days of the window.

The 29-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent years and has seen little of the first team picture under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.

Jones played for the first time in nearly a year-and-a-half earlier this month in a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley after battling his way back from knee surgery but was still the target of criticism from Ferdinand, which was met with equally fierce backlash from pundits and Solskjaer himself.

Injury-hit Phil Jones has fallen further down the pecking order at Manchester United 

Rio Ferdinand called former team-mate Jones (centre) a ‘waste of time’ at Manchester United

However, while the bickering made headlines in the final few days of the window, what couldn’t be argued is just how far Jones has fallen down the pecking order at United, especially when Raphael Varane’s arrival is considered.

It sees him fall behind the Frenchman, captain Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly at centre-back and it will take a tall order (or a number of big injuries) for him to regain any meaningful minutes at United.

Jones has two years left on his £130,000-a-week contract that he signed in 2019 at Old Trafford and is keen to rebuild his United career. 

James Rodriguez (Everton) 

It’s been quite the quick rise and fall for James Rodriguez at Everton.

It was only last summer that the Colombian was the marquee signing to help turn the Toffees around under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti.

But just 12 months on and it’s curtains for Rodriguez. Ancelotti’s shock departure and return to Real Madrid hasn’t helped matters but the fact Rodriguez has also downed tools has left Everton fans feeling rather let down this summer.

The former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich playmaker even remarkably admitted to not knowing who Everton’s next opponents were while playing video games on Twitch, signalling that Goodison Park was the last place he wanted to be.

James Rodriguez wanted to leave Everton this summer but is now set to stay until January 

There appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel for Rodriguez in the final week of the window, with Porto wanting to re-sign him, and his £220,000-a-week wages, on loan.

However a deal, which included Luis Diaz being sent in the opposite direction, couldn’t be reached and now Rodriguez has been left to guess who Everton’s opponents will be as he watches from the stands. 

The Toffees could still look to ship him off to a country where the transfer window remains open, but as things stand it looks unlikely.  

Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)  

It wasn’t just Maitland-Niles who came close to leaving calamitous Arsenal this window.

Eddie Nketiah was on the verge of sealing a late £10million move to Crystal Palace, with Patrick Vieira ready to splash the cash on the forward, who is out on contract next summer.

Nketiah has found chances hard to come by at the Emirates, continuously playing second fiddle to both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, while Gabriel Martinelli’s return from injury will only push him further down the pecking order.

However, a late move south of the River Thames never came to fruition, with Palace opting to go with Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard instead.

Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has a year left on his current deal and wanted to leave this summer

And it’s no secret that Nketiah has been limited to chances under Arteta, with the Gunners boss even admitting that he’s struggled to accommodate the 22-year-old. 

‘It hurts as well because of how Eddie behaves and trains every day and because he’s a player from our academy, but he will have his chance,’ Arteta said.

‘He needs to be patient and he’s showing no signs of lacking attitude or anything like that, it’s the complete opposite.

‘He’s a joy to work with and he deserves minutes and if he doesn’t get it, it’s just my fault.’

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