It's September 1st and Ross Barkley is still an Everton player - how have we ended up here?
Towards the end of July, Ronald Koeman confirmed the England international would be "100%" be leaving Goodison Park.
The only real question was whether his destination would be Chelsea or Tottenham.
The 23-year-old often divides opinion, but there's undoubtedly a player in there somewhere and both Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino were keen to uncover it.
An ongoing hamstring injury has complicated matters, and Daniel Levy in particular was thought to have expressed concerns about bringing him in this summer when he wouldn't be ready to play.
That left Chelsea in the driving seat. The Blues had a bid of £35million - £15m less than the original asking price - accepted by the Merseysiders and it was widely reported that Barkley then went underwent a medical in London.
It's unclear whether the last part's true, but what's definite is that he decided he didn't want to move to Stamford Bridge.
Why? According to the Guardian, the playmaker wanted the opportunity to speak to Tottenham, which he was denied because the Toffees wouldn't negotiate with them.
Barkley wasn't happy
With Barkley feeling pressured to sign for Chelsea, he pulled out of the deal at the last minute.
Frustratingly for Conte, this is becoming all too familiar. Romelu Lukaku and Danilo both rejected the chance to join Chelsea this summer, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain snubbed them in favour of Liverpool.
They have also been unsuccessful in their pursuit of Juventus full-back Alex Sandro. At least there's always Danny Drinkwater, eh?
It's long been reported that Barkley was a big fan of Pochettino; that's no surprise really given the Argentine's reputation for developing young talents.
Nonetheless, it's refreshing to see a player who like Oxlade-Chamberlain, is willing to accept lower wages somewhere he thinks is going to be best for his development.
Everton's refusal to speak to Spurs hasn't left them in the best position either, as they are now going to receive an even smaller fee if they part with him in January. With Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney having arrived in his place, it's unlikely we'll be seeing much more of him in an Everton shirt, if at all.
Did Barkley make the right call rejecting Chelsea? Have your say in the comments.
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