Swansea City’s transfer deadline day ended in chaotic confusion as three players left the club, two more were stranded at the 11th hour, and fans voiced their anger on social media.
Deals to take Daniel James to Leeds United and Leroy Fer to Aston Villa collapsed late on after Wilfried Bony, Jefferson Montero and Tom Carroll all left the club.
No-one moved in the other direction as the Swans contrived something even their supporters thought was impossible – a deadline day even more shambolic than the previous one.
Manager Graham Potter had admitted earlier in the day he shared the fans’ frustrations at the fire sale that has twice raged since he took charge.
Potter’s rare voicing of his own feelings may have influenced the club’s owners to pull the plug on the deal that left James with a trip home after spending six hours at Elland Road.
It appeared a loan deal had been agreed for the 21-year-old Wales winger for £5m with further payments if Leeds were promoted when the move would be made permanent at the end of the season.
— Brett Johns (@36Johns) January 31, 2019
But the Swans backed out and issued a statement that said: “James travelled to Elland Road today to discuss a loan move with a view to a permanent transfer on enhanced terms should the Championship leaders secure promotion to the Premier League.
“However, the clubs could not agree suitable terms and the 21-year-old will return to Swansea.
“Wales international James will be welcomed back into the squad with immediate effect with the goal of continuing his rich vein of form.
“Skipper Fer was linked with a deadline day move to Lille and Aston Villa, but has decided to remain with the Swans to give manager Graham Potter a double boost for the run-in.”
Leeds, unsurprisingly, blamed the Swans for pulling the plug with Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani claiming on Twitter his club had agreed to all the details over payments.
He said: ‘I am very disappointed like all of @LUFC fans, we did all we could and accepted all requests… but you always need two parties to agree to make a deal and we always had one single target player, none else. We move on and keep fighting in our next 17 finals.’
— Swansea City AFC 🌐 (@NotSwanseaCity) January 31, 2019
The confusion over James and Fer came as three of Potter’s most experienced players – all signed on Premier League wages – were deposited elsewhere with someone else to pick up the tab.
Bony joined Qatari club Al-Arabi on loan until the end of the season, but will not come back to the Liberty Stadium as his contract ends in May.
The striker only recently returned to action after being out since February 2018 due to a knee injury.
Midfielder Carroll’s loan move to Aston Villa came late on – moments after it was confirmed Fer’s switch to the same club had collapsed – while winger Montero was also sent packing to West Brom, on another loan, late in the day.
Their departures mean 19 senior players have left the club since last summer with just six moving in the other direction.
Earlier on Thursday, at his weekly press conference ahead of the game at Bristol City, Potter had made it as clear as he possibly could he was not in favour of selling James – an intervention that may have swayed factors late on when the haggling over the structure pf payments began.
If Potter left now, I’d shake his hand and wish him all the best. He doesn’t deserve the shambles that our club is. A good bloke that’s moved his life over to our city just to be royally messed around owners who don’t give a damn about us or our club. Sbwriel. #swansea
— Matthew Wallace (@M_J_Wallace) January 31, 2019
Potter said: “I think it’s fair to say I understand the supporters’ concern, I understand the supporters’ frustration, worry, anger – whatever sort of feelings anger that can come with the rumours and speculation.
“I understand it all. To be honest I’ve had the same feelings myself over a period of time.
Feel for every Swansea city fan.. how can you possibly move forward when you keep selling and not investing.
— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) January 31, 2019
“But I’m very proud to be manager of this fantastic football club. The support I’ve had has been fantastic and I want to assure them (the fans) that I’m not here to be a mouthpiece for anybody or a puppet for anybody.
“My career means a lot to me and my family means a lot to me. I’m here to do the right thing for my family and for my employers, Swansea City, and to conduct myself in a way that is representative of this great club.”