One of the strangest moments of transfer deadline day (or this window’s Odemwingie, if you prefer) was the news that imposters claiming to represent Manchester United had attempted to sign Ander Herrera on their behalf.
Apparently, one of the quirks of the compulsory buy-out clauses in all Spanish football contracts is that, if you want to activate one, you have to visit La Liga’s headquarters in person with your cheque for the full amount.
That’s what it appeared Manchester United were doing last night in order to activate Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera’s €36m release clause.
As Spanish journalist Guillem Balague reports in the video above, there were people at the Spanish league’s offices for an hour yesterday evening to discuss the Herrera move, but they later left without lodging their cheque and citing “bureaucratic problem”.
But it later emerged that the people involved were not representatives of United or Ahtletic.
The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor explained: “I think we’re going to hear a lot more about this in the coming days. The details are a bit sketchy but I’ve just had it confirmed from Old Trafford that the people who were in Spain, apparently negotiating on their behalf for Ander Herrera, were not sent there by the club and can accurately be described as ‘imposters’.
“Who on earth they were, no idea. But clearly they were trying to get in on the deal and it has ended in embarrassment for everyone. I get the feeling United are furious.
“Their official explanation is that they simply couldn’t persuade Bilbao to bring down the buyout clause and it was as straightforward as that (even though there is a clause, it doesn’t mean the potential buyer has to meet it). However, there have clearly been all sorts of fun and games going on in the background and it’s an embarrassment, to say the least.”