Ross Barkley became the latest player to reject a move to Premier League champion Chelsea, pulling out of a deal at the end of a summer transfer window in which English clubs spent more than 1.3 billion pounds ($1.7 billion).
Chelsea did manage to sign midfielder Danny Drinkwater from 2016 champion Leicester for a reported 35 million pounds ($45 million) and defender Davide Zappacosta from Italian club Torino on Thursday. But missing out on the main targets may hamper Antonio Conte’s bid to defend the title and challenge in the Champions League.
The problems for Chelsea began in July when striker Romelu Lukaku opted to join Manchester United and Conte’s transfer plans further disintegrated in the last two days of the transfer window.
Barkley’s rejection stunned Chelsea after midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opted to leave Arsenal for Liverpool and forward Fernando Llorente favored a move to Tottenham from Swansea.
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri revealed that a transfer fee of 35 million pounds ($45 million) had been agreed and Barkley had passed a medical examination when the midfielder changed his mind about moving.
“It’s a big surprise,” Moshiri told broadcaster Sky Sports, “but that’s football.”
Liverpool bought Oxlade-Chamberlain for 35 million pounds ($45 million) on deadline day, and made 26 million pounds ($34 million) by selling defender Mamadou Sakho to Crystal Palace.
The 24-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain allowed his Arsenal contract to enter its final season after rejecting offers to extend his six-year stay with a new deal.
“I know my choice might come as a surprise to many,” he said in a social media post, “… but I feel that this move is right for the next stage in my ongoing development.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain was part of the Arsenal team that was thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool on Sunday, his 132nd and last game with the London club.
He is leaving a team that will be playing in the Europa League this season to join a club that is back in the Champions League and started the Premier League by winning seven points from a possible nine.
At Liverpool, Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to play as a midfielder — he was mostly used at wing back last season — but faces competition for starts from Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner and potentially Philippe Coutinho. Barcelona has been chasing Coutinho, and Spanish clubs have until Friday to complete their final business of 2017.