Manchester United headline deadline day with Martial move

London, September 2

Manchester United completed a staggering transfer deadline-day deal for French teenager Anthony Martial on Tuesday, but David de Gea remained at Old Trafford after his move to Real Madrid collapsed.

News of United’s interest in 19-year-old Martial first broke on Monday and he duly signed a four-year contract with an option for a further year after passing a medical examination. British press reports put the fee at $55.1 million, which would make Martial the game’s most expensive teenager, and reports in France said it could rise to 80 million euros.

“I have always wanted to play in the Premier League and to join the biggest club in the world is what every young footballer dreams of,” said Martial, who received his first France call-up last week. Martial has only 52 league games under his belt and United manager Louis van Gaal said the club would need to show the pacy former Lyon youngster patience.

“He has all the attributes to become a top football player; however we need to give him time to adjust to his new environment and the rhythm of the Premier League,” Van Gaal told the United website. Against all expectations, Martial is set to start life at Old Trafford alongside goalkeeper De Gea, who was left stranded after his long-awaited transfer to Madrid broke down late on Monday.

De Gea had appeared on the brink of a move to Madrid worth between 30 and 40 million euros and involving Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas in part-exchange. But the deal collapsed at the last minute, with a Spanish Professional League (LFP) spokesperson telling AFP that De Gea had not been registered as a Madrid player.

The Spanish club subsequently released a statement accusing United of sending the necessary documents after the deadline had passed in Spain. Financial consultants Deloitte said that Premier League gross spending was £870 million surpassing the record of £835 million for a single transfer window, which was set a year ago.

“English clubs have significantly increased means relative to their European peer group,” Alex Thorpe from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group told AFP. “With the recently announced broadcast deal to the next cycle, that trend is set to continue.”

On a relatively low-key deadline day, one of the most intriguing stories involved West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino, who apparently threatened to go on strike after his hopes of a move to Tottenham Hotspur fell through.

Having already turned down two offers of up to £21 million from Spurs last month, Albion chairman Jeremy Peace reportedly rejected two more approaches for the 22-year-old striker in the final hours before the deadline. Peace’s hardline stance infuriated Berahino, who had a transfer request rejected last month, and a post on his official Twitter account suggested he was willing to down tools in protest.

Peace responded by blaming Tottenham for unsettling Berahino with their repeated attempts to prise him away from The Hawthorns. “We have a key player who has been very unsettled by antics which were designed to get him out of our club cheaply,” Peace said. “We are now left with the task of repairing the damage created by this unfortunate episode,” he added.

Having been rebuffed three times in their pursuit of Everton defender John Stones, Chelsea signed Senegal centre-back Papy Djilobodji from Nantes on a four-year deal. The champions added a second signing just before the window closed when they paid a reported £4 million for Reading defender Michael Hector, who was immediately loaned back to the second-tier club.

Meanwhile, West Ham United enjoyed a fruitful day as Alex Song and Victor Moses joined on loan from Barcelona and Chelsea respectively. Hammers manager Slaven Bilic also signed Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic from Hull City for an undisclosed fee and winger Michail Antonio from Nottingham Forest for around £7 million.

Everton announced the signing of Argentine centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori from River Plate on a five-year contract for a fee of £9.5 million.

Southampton signed defender Virgil van Dijk from Scottish champions Celtic on a five-year deal for £11.5 million, while Bournemouth landed striker Glenn Murray from Crystal Palace.