Craig Bellamy’s loan switch to Cardiff City and David James’ move to Bristol City have been amongst the most surprising of the summer. The transfer window may just spring into life, outside of the blue half of Manchester, as the deadline approaches. Meanwhile to bring some added drama to proceedings, below is a list of transfers which had the capacity to shock, whether they were controversial or just plain weird.
Eric Cantona – Leeds to Manchester United
Catona made only 15 appearances for Leeds, scoring 3 goals in their title-winning season of 1991/92 but impressed with his creative flair. Seldom have players been transferred between these old foes and the former Leeds chairman, Bill Fotherby must still be wondering why he let the Frenchman depart for £1.2 million. The maverick excelled at Old Trafford and the rest is history.
Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid
In 2000 Real Madrid paid a then world record fee of £37 million to bring Figo to the Bernabeu. The sizeable compensation Barcelona received could not abate the anger of the fans who felt betrayed by the attacker’s desire to become one of a new breed of Galacticos at Madrid. Once a staunch favourite at the Camp Nou, on his return there objects rained down on him including a pig’s head.
Sol Campbell – Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal (free transfer)
Could this be England’s version of the Figo transfer minus the pig’s head? Comparably Campbell was a firm favourite at the Lane having spent his entire career at the club. But in summer 2001 with his contract expiring he chose to sign for Arsenal. The move to Spurs’ most intense rivals was made worse by Campbell earlier refuting the prospect of moving there. The defender who is still a figure of hate at Tottenham is no stranger to shock transfers. His short stay with Notts County last year could have easily merited another inclusion.
Luther Blisset – Watford to AC Milan
As top scorer in the English top flight and all of Europe in the 1982-3 season, AC Milan came calling for Watford’s Blisset. His one solitary season at the San Siro was immortalised by an astounding series of misses. Upon arrival Blisset claimed he would out score Juventus’ Michel Platini. He managed only five, missed open goals and nearly sent a penalty kick out of the stands. Yet for these comedic performances he became a cult figure, fondly remembered in Milan.
Al-Saadi Gaddafi – Al-Ittihad Tripoli to Perugia
Son of Colonel Gaddafi, Al-Saadi made the switch from Libyan club football to Serie A side Perugia in 2003. Al Saadi’s interest in the game was well known given his minority stake in Juventus where he had previously trained. Perugia’s manager was reluctant to play Al-Saadi who due to a ban for taking illegal substances only ever played 15 minutes for the club in their 1-0 victory over Juventus in May 2004.
Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano – Corinthians to West Ham
Many thought West Ham’s peculiar signing of two rising Argentine stars in 2006 was too good to be true. Both endured tepid starts to English football with Mascherano leaving in mid-season for Liverpool. Tevez opted to stay, becoming a Hammers legend as his goals saved the club from relegation. A record fine imposed by the PL for breaching rules concerning third party ownership of players and the compensation still being paid to Sheffield United was all worth it.
Roberto Mancini – Free agent to Leicester City
The Manchester City boss was one of the finest number 10s to grace the Italian game. He was elegant, skilful, a spectacular finisher who was not afraid to fight his corner, as he displayed on the touchline with David Moyes last season. Having most recently played for Lazio he subsequently became an under-study to manager Sven Goran Eriksson before Leicester lured him out of retirement in 2001. He stayed half a year and failed to last 90 minutes in a handful of starts but his time with The Foxes cemented his love of the English game.
Jurgen Klinsmann – Monaco to Tottenham Hotspur
The German World Cup winner with that infamous celebration provided a shock when he decided to sign for Spurs. He had reportedly been impressed by the size of Alan Sugar’s boat in Monaco. In turn he impressed the fans, scoring 29 goals in the 1994-95 season. He was enticed back to north London for one last hurrah in Spurs’ relegation threatened campaign of 1997-98.
Michael Owen – Newcastle United to Manchester United (free transfer)
Owen is never happy to be reminded of his injury plagued career. Upon leaving Newcastle he devised a cunning 32-page glossy brochure detailing his talents to dispel that perception. After clubs such as Hull City declared he would be too great a risk, Sir Alex Ferguson snapped him up. It was a shock to those who had written him off and to Liverpool fans.
Nicky Barmby – Everton to Liverpool
Barmby became the first player since Dave Hickson in 1959 to make the short move from Goodison Park to Anfield. The midfielder who made over 100 appearances for The Toffees transferred to Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool in the summer of 2000 for £6 million. The Everton fans were so shocked and appalled that Barmby was forced to miss his final two games at Goodison Park for fear of his own safety.