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Isco's Union Berlin move collapses on quiet deadline day in Germany

Fran Santiago / Getty Images Sport / Getty

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Portugal left back João Cancelo’s switch to Bayern Munich brought excitement to the last day of the winter transfer period in Germany, while a surprise deal for five-time Champions League winner Isco Alarcón to join Union Berlin collapsed.

After seeing its Bundesliga lead shrink to just a point, Bayern reacted Tuesday by signing Cancelo, who had lost his starting place at Manchester City, on a loan deal to the end of the season with a 70-million euro ($76 million) option to buy. The deal was put together in just the past few days, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said.

Union was on the verge of tying up an unexpected deal for the former Real Madrid star Isco, now a free agent after leaving Sevilla, but the transfer collapsed Tuesday afternoon. Union general manager Oliver Ruhnert hinted there had been a late attempt to change the terms of the deal.

“We would have been happy to see Isco with us, but we have our limits,” he said. “These were exceeded today, contrary to the previous agreement, and so the transfer has not taken place.”

The deal would have been a surprise given that Union has never qualified for the Champions League and only became a top-division team in 2019, though it is second in the Bundesliga standings.

Also Tuesday, Eintracht Frankfurt signed left back Philipp Max, a former German national team player, from PSV Eindhoven on loan with an option to buy.

Otherwise it was another relatively quiet transfer window in Germany. Last season’s winter window passed without any new players joining Bayern, Borussia Dortmund or Leipzig.

Injuries played a role this time.

Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer joined Bayern after starter Manuel Neuer broke his leg skiing on vacation after the World Cup. Lucas Hernández’s severe knee injury meant Bayern needed a new defender, too. At Dortmund, the search was on for a right back after Thomas Meunier was hurt in winter training.

Bayern spent much of January hammering out a deal to sign Sommer, whose contract at Borussia Mönchengladbach was expiring soon anyway, and snapped up free agent Dutch defender Daley Blind too — though Blind has yet to play a minute. The solution to Dortmund’s injury problem turned out to be Union Berlin’s Norwegian right back Julian Ryerson, who delighted his new team with a goal against Mainz in his second game for Dortmund.

Bayern and Dortmund’s injury cover signings sent ripples through the league. Gladbach had another Swiss goalkeeper, Jonas Omlin, lined up immediately to replace Sommer. Union, still a contender for Champions League qualification, sprung a surprise by replacing Ryerson with Celtic’s Josip Juranović, a fullback who helped Croatia reach the World Cup semifinals.

It wasn’t the end of Union’s shopping spree. Tunisia midfielder Aïssa Laïdouni from Ferencvaros and French defender Jerome Roussillon from Wolfsburg also joined.

As usual, Dortmund had an eye on the future by signing 16-year-old Julien Duranville, who had already made his professional debut for Anderlecht, and Eintracht Frankfurt brought in 19-year-old American midfielder Paxten Aaronson. A more experienced American, defender John Brooks, returned to the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim after making little impact at Benfica in Portugal.

There were big sales as well as signings.

Leeds bought 20-year-old French striker Georginio Rutter from Hoffenheim in a deal that German media reported could reach 40 million euros ($43.5 million) including conditional fees. Mid-table EPL club Brentford signed speedy forward Kevin Schade from Champions League-chasing Freiburg, initially on loan but with a future transfer fee reportedly set at about 25 million euros ($27 million).


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