Ross Barkley had a last-minute change of heart about joining Chelsea after the Premier League champions had agreed a £35 million deal with Everton, the Merseyside club's owner Farhad Moshiri has revealed.
Chelsea and Tottenham have led the pursuit of Barkley all summer, but it was the Blues who came closest to signing him on transfer deadline day, as Moshiri said a bid was accepted and personal terms agreed with the player.
But shortly after reports on Thursday evening suggested the proposed deal had fallen through, Moshiri told Sky Sports that Barkley changed his mind about moving to Stamford Bridge after travelling to London, and will re-examine his options in January, when he expects to have recovered from a hamstring injury.
"The two clubs agreed a deal of £35m and I think personal terms were agreed," Moshiri said. "After the medical we heard from Paul Martin, Ross Barkley's agent, that he had changed his mind and wanted to reconsider his position during the January window -- that is the latest.
"He is currently injured so I think technically he will be with us because he is under contract for another year, so it is a big surprise, but that is football."
The failure to land Barkley is the latest in a series of public embarrassments in this transfer window for Chelsea, who have also seen moves for Romelu Lukaku, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fernando Llorente -- Antonio Conte's requested back-up striker target -- hijacked by Premier League rivals.
Barkley is in the final year of his contract at Everton and has signalled his intention to leave Goodison Park. He will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with interested clubs from Jan. 1, though it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will renew their interest in him.
The Premier League champions did manage to complete the signing of Torino defender Davide Zappacosta -- for around £23m, sources told ESPN FC -- prior to Thursday's deadline.
They are still expected to confirm the arrival of midfielder Danny Drinkwater in a £35m deal from Leicester City. The deadline in England passed without any official confirmation, although the reigning champions were hoping to get an extension to get the deal over the line.
That move is dependant on Leicester completing a deal to sign Adrien Silva from Sporting Lisbon as a replacement for Drinkwater, and the window closed with Silva at Leicester's training ground and Drinkwater at Chelsea's Cobham base.