Pedro
Pedro has joined Chelsea on a four-year deal, despite significant interest from Manchester UnitedGetty

Likely panicked by a difficult start to the season that has seen them draw at home to Swansea and slump to a heavy defeat at title rivals Manchester City, Chelsea have re-entered the transfer market this week in a successful bid to snatch the signing of Barcelona forward Pedro from under the noses of Manchester United.

Whether such a deal alone, worth £21.4m ($33.6m), is enough to banish doubts over the ability of Jose Mourinho's previously dominant side to mount a confident defence of their first domestic title since 2010 remains to be seen, but it certainly is not the first time that such a long-running transfer saga has appeared to be heading firmly in one direction before taking a sharp twist at the death to leave one side positively reeling.

Here, IBTimes UK brings you five other examples of high-profile deals that did not pan out quite as smoothly as first anticipated...

Willian to Chelsea instead of Tottenham

When addressing the subject of Chelsea transfer 'hijacks' pre-Pedro, Willian is the one signing that immediately springs to mind. Having impressed alongside several fellow Brazilians at Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, the energetic 27 year old spent a few short months with troubled Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala before appearing on the verge of a club record £30m switch to Tottenham in August 2013, as Andre Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy prepared for the inevitable departure of Gareth Bale.

With the player even having completed a medical in North London, confirmation of the deal appeared a formality until Roman Abramovich intervened and Chelsea swooped in with a similar offer. As has obviously happened with Pedro, personal terms were agreed within a matter of hours and Willian was off to Stamford Bridge.

Clinton Njie
Clinton Njie will hope to improve upon Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor's poor performances for TottenhamAFP

Clinton Njie to Tottenham instead of Arsenal

A more up-to-date example, Njie differs somewhat from the other entries on this particular list in as much as his move did eventually go as planned despite the arrival of late interest from elsewhere.

Mauricio Pochettino is simply desperate for strikers to lessen the pressure on Harry Kane following his unexpected goalscoring exploits in 2014/15. With Levy having decided to return to a more sensible transfer policy following the cash-splashing of recent seasons, the Cameroon international seems a good fit despite having only scored seven goals in 37 league appearances with former employers Lyon.

If rumours are to be believed, however, Tottenham may have come close to having another key target prised from their clutches at the last second – this time by fierce rivals Arsenal. Njie himself has even confirmed that the Gunners did get in touch with his agent before a transfer to White Hart Lane was completed, although, much to supporters' delight, it appears he was unwilling to even contemplate a late change of heart.

"I was never scared that my transfer to Tottenham would not be confirmed," he told French publication L'Equipe on 17 August. "I never spoke to Arsenal representatives on the phone, they simply contacted my agent. My choice was made, I was determined to join Tottenham."

Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey came close to joining Manchester United from Cardiff in 2008Getty

Aaron Ramsey to Arsenal instead of Manchester United

Having provided glimpses of serious potential during his formative years with Cardiff, Ramsey was on the radar of several Premier League heavyweights during the summer transfer window of 2008.

Manchester United even went as far as to release a statement on their official website on 6 June that year, claiming to have agreed a fee for his signature although stressing that terms with the then 17 year old had yet to be agreed.

Despite the best efforts of Sir Alex Ferguson to persuade him otherwise, Ramsey eventually joined Arsenal in a £5m deal, having been reportedly flown to Switzerland during Euro 2008 for talks with Arsene Wenger.

Ramsey has since stated on more than one occasion how influential the presence of Wenger was in his decision to reject his other suitors.

Arjen Robben to Chelsea instead of Manchester United

Chelsea finally completed a £12m deal to sign Dutch winger Robben from PSV Eindhoven back in March 2004 after a particularly protracted saga in which Manchester United were heavily featured.

The outcome of this particular race appears to have hinged on the defection of Peter Kenyon. United's interest in the player first arose during his time as chief executive and although Robben spoke positively about the possibility of moving to Old Trafford, he eventually opted for West London after Kenyon switched allegiance and the Red Devils were made to rue their failure to meet the asking price.

Robinho
Robinho's two-year stint at Manchester City was not an overwhelming successAFP

Robinho to Manchester City instead of Chelsea

A rather rare example of Chelsea themselves being pipped to the post by a domestic rival in the transfer market, Robinho was expected to join the Blues in September 2008 and appeared very eager to make the move happen.

So confident were Chelsea that the deal was moving in the right direction after a provisional £29m fee was agreed, supporters were able to select his name on the back of new replica shirts online with his squad number to be confirmed at a later date.

Despite Kenyon's best efforts, however, Robinho sensationally joined City on deadline day, with the club benefiting from the significant financial muscle provided by their new Abu Dhabi-based owners.

"On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted," he said in a quote during his official unveiling that shows just how quickly everything changed. Reporters were on hand to provide a swift correction.