Top 5 Premier League transfer sagas
Every summer it seems that there is at least one transfer saga the media decides to attach itself to during those arduous football free days in June and July. Football fans anxiously check the internet or even that old tele-visual device in the front room, awaiting news on potential arrivals or departures from their club.
In the old days, superstars like Jurgen Klinsmann, Gianfranco Zola or Dennis Bergkamp emerged in the Premier League with little warning, their arrival sparking mass hysteria among fans. However, it seems that more often than not, signings are no longer the source of fever and excitement they used to be.
When a player is set to join the Premier League, we often know a player is going to move months, even years, before it happens. Marouane Chamakh, is a prime example. How many times has the Moroccan signed for Arsenal and Liverpool already this season? How many more player/agent statements will fans have to endure before the player finally signs a deal? However, whilst the likes of Chamakh or Milan Jovanovic have done well so far in hawking their name around Europe, their proposed moves are mere drops in the ocean compared with the following 5 transfer sagas Premier League fans have had to bear. Therefore, let us relive these heady summer months, and remember arguably the Premier League’s top 5 Premier League transfer sagas.
Ok, this one hasn’t happened yet, but it is quite possibly the worst kept secret in football that Fabregas will return to his Catalan roots at some stage. Let us hope it is sooner rather than later, as this one is already getting tiresome.
Sympathy must be awarded to Arsenal fans. Vieira, Henry and now Fabregas, have been the source of constant speculation, and are often no more than pawns in a game of chess conducted by potential presidents of Real Madrid or Barcelona. Joan Laporta for example, used the potential signing of David Beckham to secure the Barcelona Presidency in 2003. Now, Fabregas’s name has been used in a bid to build up support for both presidential candidates for the elections on 13th June. Alfons Godall, and Sandro Rosell, will both use Fabregas’s name in a bid to drum up support for their campaign, whilst Arsenal look on helplessly. This one has not even really begun yet, but for the sake of the Arsenal supporters let’s hope that if Fabregas does decide to move on, it will be quick and painless, because the thought of enduring another saga in the mould of Ronaldo, Vieira, Berbatov and Arshavin is unthinkable… We’ve got a World Cup to watch.
Berbatov joined Tottenham at the start of the 2006/07 season, scoring 23 times in all competitions. However, despite playing at the club for just one season, Berbatov was already reportedly eager to join the Red Devils. Levy would not sanction a move, and from the summer of 2007 onwards, Berbatov was hankering for a move north.
Speaking on Bulgarian radio at the end of the 2006-07 season, Berbatov’s agent Emil Dantchev said:
“We had a 90-minute meeting with Tottenham’s chairman Daniel Levy and sporting director Damien Comolli.
They informed us that there’s a query from Manchester United about the possibility of Berbatov joining them.
They told us they will have a meeting in the next day or two to decide his future.”
Berbatov remained at White Hart Lane for one more season however, helping Tottenham to League Cup glory in February 2008. In fairness to the Bulgarian, he always played well at Tottenham, and when he did leave on 1st September 2008 (transfer deadline day), Tottenham fans, Manchester United fans, and the football loving world in general was glad the affair was finally over.
Ferguson had been willing to pay between £26-28 million for the player long before the transfer came to fruition on 1st September, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy seemed intent on boring Manchester United into submission. United eventually paid just over £30m for the player, but during the summer of 2008, it seemed you couldn’t pick up a paper without reading about the proposed move. Levy accused Berbatov and United of treachery, skullduggery and tapping up, by Levy, eventually formerly complaining to the FA about United. However, it was the public that should have reported Levy for making the whole affair so long, drawn out, and dull!
At first he seemed destined for Tottenham, but then 6 months later he turned up at Arsenal. The real joke is, Andrei Arshavin probably wanted to go to Barcelona, except the Catalans weren’t interested. After his performances for Russia in the 2008 European Championships, clubs around Europe finally decided to take a chance on the little Russian maestro, with his performance against the Netherlands in particular catching the eye.
At first Arshavin had identified Barcelona as his preferred destination, but the club believed Zenit valued the player to highly, and so were priced out of a deal. Tottenham remained interested, and fans were treated to rumours and sightings throughout the summer. Arshavin had been seen at the Spurs Lodge, he’d bought a house, a car and a dog in London. It was done. Personal terms were agreed. But as the days and weeks dragged unmercifully on, it emerged Tottenham were only willing to pay £12.5m, whilst Zenit upped their demands to £21m on the strength of Arshavin’s showing in Euro 2008.
The deal reached an impasse, and Arshavin’s move to North London became doomed. Well, for six months anyway. With the January transfer window, Arsenal came calling for the Russian superstar, and a bid of around £15m looked likely to persuade Zenit to cut their losses on the player. However, the saga wasn’t over yet. On transfer deadline day (2nd January 2009), Arshavin, who had been staying at a hotel in Hertfordshire while the deal was negotiated, was still not yet an Arsenal player. Zenit and Arsenal were still haggling, whilst Arshavin and Zenit disagreed over payments supposedly owed to the player. The saga wore on another 24 hours, and it was not until the following day, on the 3rd Januray, that Arshavin was a Premier League player. The whole ordeal lasted six months, and occupied far too many headlines in newspapers. Further, English clubs learnt just how difficult negotiations could be with Russian clubs.
The beginning or Arsenal’s woes with regard to player departures, was Patrick Vieira’s protracted departure from Arsenal. The former AC Milan midfielder played his last game for Arsenal in the 2005 FA Cup final, finally leaving London for Turin in an £18m move to Juventus. However, prior to Vieira’s move to Italy, the world was constantly aware of Florentino Perez’s interest in the Frenchman, and year after year, Vieira was ‘close’ to swapping North London for Madrid. It must have been a nightmare for Arsenal fans, but for the rest of us, it became increasingly tedious. In 2004, it finally appeared that Vieira was set for Madrid, with Real to pay a reported £30m. Arsenal fans and players alike finally accepted the move was inevitable, only for Vieira himself to pull out at the last minute. Arsenal were finally put out of their misery a year later, but the saga was truly annoying to behold. First he wanted to go, but Arsenal wouldn’t allow it. Then Wenger relented, and appeared to have accepted the move, only for Vieira to pull out.
Now at Manchester City, Vieira has admitted recently he regrets not signing for Los Blancos. Well guess what Patrick, so do we. It would have saved us from hearing about the potential move time after time, season after season.
Ronaldo joined Manchester United in 2003, but it was not until the 2006/07 season that rumours surrounding the player began in earnest, with reports emerging Real Madrid were willing to spend £54m on the young Portugal international. However, these rumours were nothing compared to what eventually transpired. By the time Ronaldo left United in the summer of 2009, on the whole, United fans were probably happy to be shot of the player.
The saga hit its peek after the 2007/08 season, in which Ronaldo helped Manchester United to win the European Cup and Premier League, scoring 42 goals in the process. With Euro 2008 approaching, Sky Sports reported that:
“I’d like to play for Real Madrid but only if it’s true they are ready to pay what Manchester United ask of them”.
“I’ll only talk about this again after the European Championship,” added Ronaldo. “Don’t ask me any questions because I won’t answer.”
This was the icing on the cake for United followers as, after admitting he wanted a move, the European Championships would last a month, leaving fans anxiously awaiting news. Ronaldo eventually wilted to pressure from Ferguson to remain for the 2008/09 season, and Ronaldo told the Sun:
“I love the people, the players are fantastic, the atmosphere is unbelievable, the staff are great. That is the reason I want to stay.
We won the most important trophies this season. I want to do it again next season but no one knows the future.”
So Ronaldo publically sought a move away at the end of the 2007/08 season, before claiming he was happy to stay for another year although admitting ‘no one knows the future’. Well the future just contained more rumours, and false statements, much to the fans annoyance. Ronaldo told MUTV in 2009:
“What people are saying now (about a deal being struck with Madrid) is not true. Whoever says that is a liar because I am happy at the club and I want to stay here. I feel at home here and I feel very happy here”.
Ferguson told journalists at a press conference weeks later:
“You don’t think we’d get into a contract with that mob, do you? Jesus Christ! I wouldn’t sell them a virus”.
Just months later, Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid for a world record £80m, in one on the longest, most drawn out sagas in recent history. Ronaldo was always destined for Madrid, claiming for years that Madrid was his ‘boyhood club’, and that he wanted to be closer to his family and his Portuguese culture. Quite frankly, by the time he signed for Real, most of the British public, and probably most United fans, were glad to see the back of him, and the whole sorry tale.
So there you have it, our 5 worse Premier League transfer sagas. Let us hope that this summer, we can focus on the World Cup, and rejoice in totally unexpected transfers from club to club. However, with players such as Chamakh, and Fabregas already generating intrigue, it could be a long summer…