15 Top Footballers That Failed Transfer Medicals

Often, the last part of a football transfer is the medical test. Some players have failed their medicals, leading to major transfers being abandoned.

Once fees are agreed and personal terms are negotiated, clubs like to ensure that the prospective player is healthy and fit. But when an issue is detected during the medical process, deals can be called off.

FootballOrbit looks at numerous instances where major players have failed their medical tests.

1. Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu had a successful spell at Dutch giants, Ajax — helping them win the UEFA Champions League in 1995.

He captained Nigeria to a fairytale gold medal at the Olympics in 1996, and was also named African Footballer of the Year.

This secured him a lucrative transfer to Inter Milan. However, Kanu failed his medical test at Inter, who diagnosed a serious heart defect.

It was believed by doctors that his career was over, but the forward underwent successful surgery and made a miraculous recovery.

Kanu later joined Arsenal in 1999, where he had his most successful stint — including being part of the famous “Invincibles” team that won the 2003/04 Premier League title unbeaten.

Furthermore, his traumatic experience led him to establish the Kanu Heart Foundation — an organisation that helps African children who suffer heart defects.

2. Ruud van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy failed medicals

Ruud van Nistelrooy was set to complete a club-record £18.5m transfer to Manchester United in the summer of 2000, but he failed his medicals due to a knee injury.

The next day after failing his United medical test, Van Nistelrooy unfortunately ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligaments during a training session — leaving him injured for a year.

The next summer, Manchester United came for him again and this time; the striker passed his medical. He signed a 5-year contract in a £19 million move.

His time at Old Trafford was successful, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup, FA Community Shield, and was named the club’s Player of the Year twice.

Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 games for Man Utd, before joining Real Madrid in 2006.

3. John Hartson

John Hartson failed medicals at various clubs

John Hartson joined Wimbledon in 1999, becoming the club’s most expensive signing ever at £7.5m. His time with the Dons was marred by injury, but he was a reliable goalscorer.

Proposed moves to Rangers, Tottenham and Charlton fell through due to failed medicals.

Due to his fitness issues, Coventry City signed him on a pay-for-play deal in February 2001

Six months later, Hartson joined Celtic in a £6m transfer. He was very successful at Celtic, scoring 109 goals in 201 appearances.

Furthermore, he won 3 Scottish Premier League titles, 2 Scottish Cups and the
Scottish League Cup.

4. Raul Tamudo

Another miss by Rangers……..

Espanyol legend, Raul Tamudo, was close to joining Rangers in 2000, only to see the move fail at the last minute due to a failed medical.

He later became an icon at Espanyol, where he captained the club for almost a decade, playing nearly 400 official games.

Moreso, he won two Copa del Rey titles with the club and became their all-time top goal scorer with 140 goals.

5. Gabriel Milito

In 2003, Gabriel Milito was among the best young defenders in world football, having impressed in his native Argentina with Independiente.

Real Madrid signed him, but he failed his medicals, as he had not fully recovered from a knee injury he had suffered two years earlier.

Madrid’s doctors were concerned that the player “had a risk of being seriously injured again in the future”.

When Real Madrid pulled the plug on the the deal, Milito decided to stay in Spain and joined Real Zaragoza.

He spent 4 years at Zaragoza (where he also linked up with his brother, Diego) before finally securing a big move — joining Madrid’s arch-rivals, Barcelona.

At Barca, Milito won 2 La Liga titles, the Supercopa de Espana and the UEFA Champions League.

6. John Carew

After a string of impressive displays in the UEFA Champions League, John Carew moved to Spanish club Valencia in an €8.5 million transfer.

He won the La Liga title in 2002 and was part of the Valencia side that lost the 2001 Champions League final to Bayern Munich on penalties.

In his career, the Norwegian famously failed two medicals: The first was with Fulham in 2002, Carew was close to completing his move to the English club for a fee of £7.5m, but the move fell through after the club were trying to re-negotiate their offer following his failed medical.

The second was with Inter Milan. He was on trial with Inter in 2013, but was denied a contract over fitness issues.

7. Demba Ba

Demba Ba famously played for West ham, Newcastle and Chelsea. But earlier in his career, he had failed medical tests………..twice.

After helping Hoffenheim gain promotion to the Bundesliga, Ba was set to complete a transfer to Stuttgart in 2009; but the move fell through after he failed a medical.

Later, he agreed to a transfer to Stoke City for a reported fee of £7.1m in 2011; but the deal also collapsed after Ba failed his medicals again!

The then Stoke City manager Tony Pulis said: “Obviously they found something which could cause problems later”.

8. Andrey Arshavin

Arshavin initially failed his medicals at Arsenal

Andrey Arshavin began his career at Zenit Saint Petersburg and won several trophies with the club.

After impressing at Euro 2008, where he helped Russia reach the semi-final, and also finishing 6th in the 2008 Ballon d’Or; several clubs were after him.

Arshavin decided to join Arsenal but initially failed his medicals due to heart problems.

Arsenal gave him a second chance, to which he passed the test.

He joined the Gunners in January 2009. The transfer was famously completed just few seconds before the deadline.

Arshavin become the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history at the time, on a £15m deal.

9. Marko Arnuatovic

In the summer of 2009, after an impressive season with FC Twente, Mark Arnautovic was looking to make the next step in his career.

The Austrian was linked with a number of clubs and Chelsea eventually agreed a fee of around £12million.

But he failed his medical with the Blues because of a foot fracture.

Arnautovic later signed for Inter Milan in the same summer.

At Inter, medical tests were made and concerns were raised, but after a few weeks; the winger was able to pass another medical, joining the Italian giants on loan.

Ultimately, he was part of Jose Mourinho’s treble winning side in 2010, before moving on to Werder Bremen.

Arnuatovic later played in the Premier League for Stoke City and West Ham.

10. Aly Cissokho

After a very successful spell in Portugal, Aly Cissokho was one of the most sought after left-backs in football.

AC Milan came calling and agreed a €15milion deal with Porto for the Frenchman, but he failed medical tests due to his teeth!!

It was reported that the teeth problem — diagnosed with advanced understanding of human physiology — revealed that the defender could potentially suffer spinal problems in the future.

After “passing” a second medical, Milan attempted to re-negotiate the fee based on Cissokho’s health concerns; but Porto cancelled the deal.

11. Loic Remy

QPR forward, Loic Remy, was about to secure a big move in 2014 after impressing on loan at Newcastle in the Premier League.

Liverpool looked to have won the race with Remy training with Brendan Rodgers’ side ahead of a £8.5m move.

But an heart issue surfaced during his medical, which saw the Reds pull out of the deal.

The QPR manager then, Harry Redknapp, was baffled saying: “He had a stringent one (medical) here, one at Marseille and at Newcastle and with France before the World Cup. You couldn’t meet a fitter lad!”

Chelsea quickly signed Remy, and he went on to win a Premier League winners medal in his first year with the Blues.

12. Victor Valdes

Victor Valdes failed medicals

Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes became a free agent in 2014, after his contract with the Catalan club came to an end.

Valdes — carrying a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury — was subject to a move to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco.

But the move was cancelled by Monaco after he failed his medicals, despite signing a pre-contract with the club.

13. Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao failed medicals at Monaco

Radamel Falcao joined Chelsea in 2015, with the Blues opting to sign him on loan despite an underwhelming spell at Manchester United the season before.

But the Colombian struggled to recapture the excellent form he had shown earlier in his career.

Monaco, his parent club, decided to recall him back; but he sensationally failed his medicals and was sent back to Chelsea!!!

14. Nabil Fekir

In the summer of 2018, Liverpool were about to complete the £53m signing of Lyon star, Nabil Fekir.

The midfielder had completed the formalities, even completing a announcement video with LFC TV.

But a “failed” medical saw the Reds pulled out of the deal, citing concerns over the player’s knee.

Indeed, the Frenchman had suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament during the 2015/16 season — and issues regarding it remained.

The player denied that there were any issues during his medical.

Fekir moved to Real Betis for just £12m the following year, going on to become one of the best midfielders in La Liga.

15. Patrik Schick

Patrik Schick joined Sampdoria in 2016 and instantly became hot property.

In his first season in Italy, the Czech appeared in 32 league matches and scored 11 goals.

Moreover, he started 14 times and was able to find the back of the net once every 137 minutes.

Juventus triggered the release clause of a reported €30 million on Schick’s contract.

But the striker failed two separate medicals! Forcing Juve to eventually back out of the deal.

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