Manchester United’s transfer strategy lay open to scrutiny on transfer deadline day with the eleventh hour signing of Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and the collapse of a last-minute deal to secure a season-long loan of Real Madrid full-back Fabio Coentrao as the club abandoned the pursuit of Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera, suggesting he was over-priced at £30.5m.
An extraordinary climax to the window saw United walk away from attempts to sign 24-year-old box-to-box midfielder Herrera, though they would have known the player's £30.5m buy-out clause. The Basque clubs always sell at the full asking price, as their Basque-only recruitment policy means they have limited ways of reinvesting and fans insist that players must not leave at below their asking price
With the Herrera deal on the rocks, Real Madrid's Sami Khedira entered the picture as a possible back up option. United - whose pursuit of a midfielder has turned into a disaster after the failure to secure Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas - enquired about Khedira in the morning without making a firm offer. But that also came to nothing.
Fellaini, whose signature had appeared more straightforward, was forced to drive to Everton's Finch Farm training ground and lodge a transfer request with manager Roberto Martinez. Baines appeared to be resigned to staying at Everton after chairman Bill Kenwright dug in his heels and rejected a £15m bid for the player - the sixth bid for the full back to have been tabled by United this summer. A joint bid for the two players of nearly £38.5m - tabled by United in the last 48 hours- was still not enough for Kenwright, who wanted at least £26m for Fellaini and £18m for Baines.
His reluctance was compounded by the failure to secure the Porto midfielder Fernando as a £15m replacement for Fellaini. But Everton secured Gareth Barry on a season-long loan, Wigan Athletic's James McCarthy for £12m, allowing Everton to let Anichebe go.
The shock of the night was the apparent loan signing of Real's Coentrao - followed by reports that the deal had not in fact gone through. Whilst the initial paperwork was sent to the Premier League on time, Real opted not to complete the final part of the transfer as their own recruitment drive had stalled.
It meant Fifa were unable to confirm the loan and Coentrao will remain in the Spanish capital, leaving Moyes with the tricky task of reassuring Patrice Evra about his future even though he has clearly attempted to bring in two alternative left-backs.
The 25-year-old left back was to take the shirt Baines had wanted while also operating as a wingback and representing a challenge to Evra. The Portuguese player is out of favour at the Bernebeu and has been told he is free to leave by boss Carlo Ancelotti, though the Spanish side had rejected Andre Villas-Boas' attempts to take him on loan at Tottenham. Real were thought to want around £15m for him having signed him on a six-year deal two years ago.
After the rejection of a £26m bid for Herrera last week, United lodged a £30.5m bid which triggered the player's buy-out clause. That created potential for a huge logistical problem, because the only way for Herrera to trigger the buy-out clause would be to pay out the sum in full himself and seek reimbursement from United, whose payment to the player would accrue VAT at 21 per cent - a further £4.5m. Experienced football lawyer Ian Lynam, of the Charles Russell practice, said that the hurdles involved in Herrera laying his hands on the money to buy out his contract would be insurmountable in the eleventh hour of a transfer widow.
Everton had a fine night, also securing Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku to sign from Chelsea on a season's loan, having allowed Victor Anichebe to talk to West Bromwich Albion. The view from Goodison Park was that Fellaini's transfer request made no material difference, since the price United had been asking was too low. The evaporation of hopes that Brazilian Fernando also affected the Belgian's hopes of leaving. Martinez was hopeful enough of securing the player to travel to London for a work permit hearing early today. But Everton's valuation was considered too low and sources in the Portuguese city said that the player did not want to leave for club of Everton's standing
It was clear from early in the day that Baines would not be leaving, with the premium valuation Kenwright has put on him a reflection of his talismanic role at the club as well as his individual contribution.
By 9.30pm, United's only activity had been sending Nick Powell out to Wigan Athletic on loan and Dutch youngster Marnick Vermijl to NEC Nijmegen in his own country, on loan for the season. Bebe also left the club on loan to Portuguse side Pacos de Ferreira.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes secured Steven Ireland from Aston Villa. Liverpool's hopes of securing Shay Given came to nothing but as expected they secured Chelsea's Victor Moses on a season's loan, as well as central defenders Thiago Ilori, of Sporting Lisbon, and Mamadou Sakho of Paris Saint-Germain