The current transfer window is coming to an end and with all the speculation and rumours circling the media and social network sites, it got me thinking about the most surprising transfers of all time. The kind of transfer that made you get out of your seat when the news broke, the signing that you’d never thought would happen or never expected to happen.
Some players that didn’t make the list were the obvious ones like Sol Campbell to Arsenal and Eric Cantona to Manchester United. Also some obscure signings like Thomas Graveson to Real Madrid and the unexpected signings like Patrick Kluivert to Newcastle or Jurgen Klinsmann’s 2nd stint at Tottenham….and even Spurs signing Andy Booth on loan from lower division Huddersfield.
Join me below for my Top 10 surprise transfers of all time…
10. Robbie Keane
After a few seasons bursting onto the football scene with Wolves and Coventry, Robbie Keane had impressed Inter Milan manager, Marcelo Lippi enough to sign him for a fee of £13 Million in the year 2000. Despite his potential, it was rare for an Italian club to sign British based talent around this time with a similar surprise transfer being Ronnie O’Brien, released by Middlesborough, signed by Juventus in the late 1990’s.
9. Fabrizio Ravanelli
When Ravanelli, AKA ‘White Feather’ won the European Champions League in 1996 with Juventus, I bet he didn’t think he’d be playing for Middlesbrough F.C. several months later. At the time, Juventus did not want to sell to a club they would face in Europe, Boro matched the asking price and the ridiculous wage demands by Ravanelli. Only spending one season at the club, he scored a hat-trick on his debut against Liverpool, and finished runners-up in both FA & League Cup’s but couldn’t save Boro from relegation.
8. Dennis Bergkamp
Personally, this is one transfer that made me get out of my seat when the story broke. Having seen the Dutch striker perform in World Cup ’94, I did not expect to see him signing for Arsenal – the Arsenal side at the time who had a reputation for playing ‘boring football’. Signed by manager Bruce Rioch for £7.5 million in 1995 it was a bargain and a transfer that often get’s over looked considering what the player and the club went on to achieve.
7. Trevor Francis
It was not a surprise that one of the best clubs in the country at the time, Nottingham Forest, signed one of the best young English players at the time in Trevor Francis, but in 1979 the transfer deal surprised the football world in terms of the transfer fee. The previous record transfer fee had recently been broken with a £500,000 price tag, but the legendary Brian Clough blew that out the water by making Francis the first £1 Million signing in football.
6. David Beckham
Perhaps all of David Beckham’s transfers can be seen as a surprise but I think the most surprising of all, was his move from Real Madrid to LA Galaxy in 2007. Becks’ time at Real Madrid was not as successful as he had hoped, but towards the end of time at the Bernabeu, Becks started showing some form and many fans felt he still had a lot more to give at the top level before moving to America, where players usually go at the end of the careers rather than at the peak.
5. Ibrahimovic / Eto’o
Personally this transfer really surprised me when the details were released because of the money involved. There is no doubt that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a quality forward but for Barcelona to sign him for 30 odd million Euros PLUS Samuel Eto’o left me completely dumbfounded. It’s hard to compare the players, with their difference in size and playing style – but seeing how this deal has now played out makes me think Inter got the better striker plus the bonus of the high transfer fee!
4. Maurice ‘Mo’ Johnston
Infamous for his transfer to Glasgow Rangers in 1989, Johnston had previously played for Celtic in the middle of the eighties before moving onto FC Nantes in France. In an interview the player has said that he never wanted to leave Celtic, and would only play for another club outside of Britain. After two seasons in France, Celtic revealed they would be re-signing Johnston, but the deal was premature due to the legal contract over who owned the player. Meanwhile, fierce Rivals, Glasgow Rangers came in and the old Celtic ‘poster boy’ is being unveiled at Ibrox, both sets of supporters were unhappy considering the deep heat between two clubs, it was bold move by Rangers manager Graeme Souness.
The tricky Brazilian winger looked set on leaving Real Madrid in 2008 and the most likely move was to Stamford Bridge but Chelsea were unable to meet the transfer fee. New big spenders, Manchester City were able to offer the right amount and Robinho signed for the blue side of Manchester. A surprise that City were able to out bid Chelsea, putting their name on the map as the new big spenders – also a surprise that Robinho would move to the north of England after going on record he could never play football in northern Europe, due to the cold weather conditions.
2. Diego Maradona
Maradona’s move from Barcelona to Napoli came as a shock considering the Italian club’s reputation in world football. They had never won a league title or any European trophies but Maradona was desperate to move away from the Nou Camp after falling out with the club president. Maradona even said that at the time, he had never heard of Napoli but the surprise move paid off as the Italian side went on to win two Italian league titles.
1. Luis Figo
When a player moves directly between two rival clubs, it always proves a shock but it also made Luis Figo the most expensive footballer at the time in the year 2000. The enmity between Barcelona and Real Madrid provides one of the most extreme rivalries in the football world, Figo was loved at Barcelona but since his switch to Madrid, he became their new hate figure. In 2002 the infamous Pigs Head was thrown at Luis Figo when taking a corner during a El Clasico game.