The craziest story of Deadline Day has a name and a surname: Joao Palhinha. Yes, because his transfer to FC Bayern was a deal done and almost completed... just waiting for the signatures.

In a few hours, his dream has become a nightmare. It all started four days ago: after Joao Palhinha's super performance in Arsenal-Fulham, few thought that he could still leave the club... but Bayern, after an internal meeting, decided to try to negotiate for Palhinha in the week of the Deadline. A difficult but not impossible mission.

Bayern could invest a budget close to the €70m package with the proceeds of Benjamin Pavard sold to Inter for €32m and Ryan Gravenberch to Liverpool sold for €40m.

From that moment, Thomas Tuchel's decision was clear: it was necessary to sign a new defensive midfielder to complete the team, Palhinha became the club's priority which began to negotiate with Fulham in the hope of being able to reach an agreement.

Palhinha immediately decided to say yes to Bayern: the Portuguese midfielder asked the club to leave with immediate effect, a request also made directly to manager Marco Silva until an agreement was reached between Palhinha and Bayern on five year deal on Thursday.

That's why on Deadline Day there were only formalities left: Bayern and Fulham agreed in the morning for a €65m deal so as to authorize Joao Palhinha to travel to Germany for medical examinations and signing the contract.

It seemed like the beginning of Joao's dream, in reality it was the beginning of a real nightmare because every hour that passed increased anxiety: in fact, Fulham had approved Palhinha's move to Bayern, tying him to the possibility of finding a replacement in time for 6pm Deadline of the German market.

Fulham contacted numerous players: there was never an offer for Amrabat but there were negotiations with Hojbjerg, Youssuf Fofana and up to the end even Scott McTominay who around 5.30pm refused the destination.

While Joao Palhinha was in Munich to complete two medical sessions and even take pictures with the Bayern shirt, in London the Fulham board now saw the mission of finding a replacement for Palhinha as impossible.

"This deal can't collapse", Joao repeated almost incredulously in the Bayern offices. And instead the communication from the club arrives: nothing to do, Fulham are unable to take a replacement and the deal has collapsed.

Palhinha was forced to leave Munich in the evening on orders from Fulham to return to London with a flight already booked, Bayern didn't find the midfielder they wanted... but Gravenberch still moved to Liverpool because that deal was already completed.

Crazy market stories, this is Transfer Deadline Day.

Fabrizio Romano is an Italian sports journalist. He was born in 1993, he lives in Milan and has over 30 million followers in total on the major social networks.


He collaborates with 888sport, CBS Sports, Sky Sport, The Guardian and has been a transfer market expert since 2011. He will take care of a column dedicated to some "Behind the Scenes" of transfers.