"What is the latest time after a transfer deadline that a deal has been completed?" Andrea Cranson wondered last week.
The first one that comes to mind is Tottenham's signing of Rafael van der Vaart in the summer of 2010. It only became apparent that the Dutchman was available from Real Madrid on the final day of the transfer window and with such little time to complete the deal, Tottenham ended up filing the relevant paperwork to the Premier League after the 6pm deadline. They only completed the £8m transfer the next day after they convinced the Premier League that the paperwork was all in order. The club blamed the delay on their computer system breaking down and stopping them from emailing – rather than faxing – the documents over.
Eighteen months earlier, the end of the transfer window in Britain had to be put back by two days because of arctic weather conditions in London. Jim White behaves like it's Christmas in the middle of summer so imagine what he's like when a bit of snow is sprinkling about the place.
Despite the extra time, Arsenal still only completed the signing of Andrey Arshavin from Zenit St Petersburg a day after the deadline. Once again, the paperwork was to blame. "Zenit had demanded Arshavin pay back a significant proportion of the "loyalty bonus" he was paid upon signing a four-year contract at the Russian club in 2006, a sum that had been awarded on the understanding that the player would complete his contract, with compromise eventually reached last night," wrote Dominic Fifield in the Guardian.
"Zenit claimed that they would receive £15m from Arsenal, and around £1.5m from Arshavin as a part repayment of the bonus monies. A further payment of €500,000 that had been due to the player in bonuses will not be met, with the Russian club building that money into their valuation of the deal at £16.9m."
Meanwhile Jörg Michner has news from Italy:
"Andrea Cranson's question from last week ("What is the latest time after a transfer deadline that a deal has been completed?") got me thinking and I remembered when Lazio loaned Luciano Zauri and Giuseppe Sculli to Pescara on deadline day of the last winter transfer period.
In Italy, the last day of the transfer period is traditionally spent in the Hotel Ata Quark in Milan, where all the clubs convene like in a market place with their own "stalls" (they take the concept of a transfer "market" quite literally). The contracts have to be deposited by a certain time in a certain room that is occupied by the Italian FA.
This video shows how Pescara deposited the contracts for said players seconds before the deadline – that is, seconds before the deadline by Italian standards as the countdown clearly shows the official only entering the room after the clock struck zero.
Even the news reporter can be heard saying 'three … two … one … it's over! The transfer period … hey, look at him …!', followed by some mild bewilderment whether that club representative entered the room in time. Officially he did, as both transfers were registered by the FA.
This whole story made me think of Alessandro Nesta's transfer from Lazio to Milan in 2002. I couldn't find any news report to support my hazy memory but my Italian is only limited. I remember having read on Channel 4's old Football Italia website that Nesta said he only learned the day after the transfer deadline from the newspapers that he actually had been sold.
Milan had tried to sign him for a few transfer windows already and bankrupt Lazio was eventually forced to cave in. I believe he had agreed personal terms with the Rossoneri beforehand but the two clubs only reached an agreement shortly before midnight when little Alessandro was already in bed. Can anyone confirm this or did my booze-fuelled student days play tricks on my brain?
Well, we asked Italian football expert, James Horncastle, about it and here's what he had to say: "Sort of. It kind of went like this. Milan's vice president, Adriano Galliani, has a late night conversation about it with Silvio Berlusconi. They call Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti and say: "We're signing Nesta, is thirty million all right?" and with the club on the brink of bankruptcy, he has little option but to accept. Milan prepare a five-year contract. By 8.30am the club's general manager Ariedo Braida has everything signed, dashes to the league's offices and deposits it. Milan announced it at 8.50am. I think all the paperwork had to be done by a 10am deadline, so they did cut it fine. The whole thing caused a bit of a stir as only a week or so earlier Berlusconi had appeared on a commission against ludicrous spending on transfer fees and had given it his support only to then splurge on Nesta." Silvio, you clever man.
Sent off before the restart (2)
"Given the Sejad Salihovic incident with Hoffenheim last weekend, has a penalty scorer previously been sent off before the restart?" tweets jamesthegill.
We have covered this previously, James, but your question did elicit some more responses from our readers.
"Not a penalty, but something pretty similar," says Matt Davison. "A most bizarre game at the Withdean Stadium between Brighton and Gillingham in 2002 saw the referee wave cards for petty offences throughout the game. Having had Mark Saunders sent off in the first half, young Gillingham striker Kevin James was so delighted to seal the game for the 10 men in the final minute when his goal put the Gills 4-2 up he celebrated with the Gillingham fans behind the goal. Being an athletics stadium there is something akin to a long-distance run between the goal he had just scored into and the fans behind the goal, and the referee decided it was worthy of his second booking and a red card. The tunnel and the dressing room were much nearer than the pitch for James at that point and Gills fans were caught half way between celebrating and laughing as James made his way to the showers."
As for red cards after scoring a penalty, E McGinley writes: "No less than Paolo Di Canio, playing for Celtic against Hearts in 1996. He scored with his penalty, and then in his eagerness to recover the ball and head for the centre circle for the match to resume, he became "involved" with an opposition player. Having already received a yellow card, the overzealous referee flourished another one. Off!"
Rob Mulholland writes: "We don't have to go back far to answer this one. 24 April 2013, on the penultimate week of the season, Leeds hosted Brighton in a game that meant very little to comfortably mid-table Leeds, but was crucial to Brighton's hopes of getting into the playoffs. Leeds duly went behind nice and early and then down to 10 men after Rudolph Austin ran past a Brighton player in a menacing fashion, and he flopped to the ground like a bouncy castle in a power cut. Leeds were awarded a penalty in the second half, with Inigo Calderon receiving marching orders for his part in the incident. After slotting a cool penalty in front of the Kop, the normally timid, mild-mannered and generally all-round good-guy El Hadji Diouf proceeded to amble (his top speed these days) the length of the pitch to the Brighton fans, who'd spent some time informing him that he was a blackguard and a spiv, and showed them what for by grabbing his 'gentleman's chorizo' and waggling it at them. The referee took exception to this and Leeds had equal numbers for zero minutes of the game. Leeds lost 2-1." Oh Leeds.
And Bas Vlaming writes: "In a Hungarian match between PMFC Matias and Honved, a clumsy challenge from a Matias player led to a penalty for Honved. Martínez intends to take it, but his team-mate Lanzafame wants to take it instead and his hanging around the penalty spot stops the penalty from being taken. Cue a yellow card for Martínez for time wasting, and when Lanzafame keeps on doing the same thing, he gets a direct red for being a prat."
A champion group
The draw for the 2013–14 Champions League group stage placed Barcelona, Milan, Ajax and Celtic in the same group," says Yusuke Toyoda. Is this the first time there's been a group with all former winners of the competition (either in its current reincarnation or as the European Cup)?
Not as far as we can see. There have been three former winners together in groups on several occasions but never four.
Good luck Celtic! Soak up that history!
"The Real Madrid player Fernando Hierro recently became Spain's top international scorer of all time, overhauling Butragueno in the process. Not bad, when you consider all of his international caps were either in defence or (at best) as a defensive midfield player. Are there any other international defenders who can match his goal-scoring record? And who is England's top-scoring defender?" asked Alan Fisher in 2001.
Unless there's some super-scoring Saudi Arabian sensation out there – and please let us know if there is – we reckon Hierro's record of 27 international goals in 80 matches for Spain can't be beat unless you disqualify him for earning most of his caps as a central midfielder.
If you're looking for a pure defender then Daniel Alberto Passarella's your man. He scored 22 goals in just 70 games as a sweeper for Argentina, and is still his country's third-top scorer behind Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Maradona. Although only 5ft 9in, Passerella scored many of his goals with his head, and still holds the Serie A record for goals scored by a defender.
You might think Ronald Koeman had a decent goalscoring record, but it wasn't that good. He managed just 14 goals in his 78 games for the Netherlands.
But Koeman stamps all over England's defenders. Jack Charlton is the pick of a sorry bunch with six goals in 35 central defensive appearances. In joint second place with five apiece come Tony Adams, Phil Neale and Stuart Pearce.
Can you help?
"With Kaká coming back to Milan after four years, it made me wonder what is the soonest after a transfer a club has shown deep transfer regret and bid to bring the same player back?" asks Paolo Cabrelli.
"With an English manager not having won the top flight for over 20 years, are there any other leagues that have not been won by a manager from the same country?" says Hywel Benbow.
"I was looking through the goalscoring records of a few international players and I noticed that 45 of Samuel Eto'o's 55 international goals came in competitive games," says Peter McKenna. "Are there any other international players with a higher competitive goalscoring ratio? Conversely, are there any regular international goal scorers who have never managed a competitive goal?"