LONDON • Chelsea's difficult transfer window endured yet more frustration on deadline day, after Ross Barkley became the latest high-profile footballer to reject a move to the English Premier League champions despite a fee of £35 million (S$61.4 million) having been agreed with Everton.
A deal for Barkley had been struck in principle between the clubs only for the player to join Fernando Llorente, Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and, earlier in the summer, Romelu Lukaku in opting against a switch to Stamford Bridge.
The England midfielder, who is in rehabilitation from a torn hamstring, had been hoping to speak with Tottenham, only for Everton to refuse to enter into negotiations with Spurs on deadline day.
That left Barkley feeling he was being pressured into a move to Antonio Conte's side, and prompted him to pull the plug at the last minute.
Chelsea, who applied for an extension to complete the £35 million purchase of Danny Drinkwater from Leicester and confirmed the signing of the Italy right-back Davide Zappacosta for an initial £23 million from Torino, could yet revive their interest in Barkley in January when the player will be fit again and has indicated he will reconsider his options.
It remains to be seen whether Everton's stance on discussing a move with Tottenham changes over the next four months, though Barkley is into his contract's final year and the Goodison Park club may struggle to attract such a hefty fee from suitors in mid-season.
Everton suggested Barkley had even undergone a medical at Chelsea before the player changed his mind over the move, though those claims have been denied by sources close to the 23-year-old midfielder. "The two clubs agreed a deal of £35 million, I think personal terms were agreed and, after the medical, we heard from Paul Martin, his agent, that he had changed his mind," said the Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
Transfer fee Chelsea agreed to pay Everton for Ross Barkley before the England midfielder changed his mind.
"He wants to reconsider his position during the January window. He is injured, so I think technically he will be with us because he is under contract for another year. It is a big surprise, but that is football."
The failure to secure Barkley, for all that he could not have appeared in the group stage of the Champions League as he recovers from surgery, represented the latest blow to Chelsea's attempts at appeasing Conte after a tense summer behind the scenes.
The champions had lost out in their pursuit of Lukaku to Manchester United, Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool and, earlier on Thursday, Llorente to Tottenham.
Conte had made clear the need to add greater depth to his options with a European campaign, as well as the title defence, ahead.
Yet only Zappacosta, who was first called up into the Italy squad by Conte and now has four caps, had been added to the ranks by the 11pm cut-off on Thursday.
A deal for Drinkwater was eventually struck with Leicester late on Thursday - apparently dependent on the Foxes securing Adrien Silva from Sporting - and Chelsea filed the necessary paperwork before the deadline to earn a two-hour extension to complete that deal.
The England midfielder would effectively replace Nemanja Matic, sold to United last month, and reunite with his former Leicester team-mate, N'Golo Kante, at Stamford Bridge.