1. Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool
In the last hours of the winter 2011 transfer window, Chelsea offered Liverpool £50m for Fernando Torres (a British record), which Liverpool accepted. Knowing that they’d need a big signing to placate their fans, Liverpool promptly offered £35m for Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll who’d had a moderately successful couple of seasons in the Championship – which the North East club unsurprisingly agreed to. Both signings have been considered total flops – so it’s not clear who got the best deal. Probably the players’ agents...
2. Luís Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid
The two fiercest rivals in Spain’s La Liga, Real Madrid and Barcelona, took animosity to a whole new level when Portugal’s talismanic captain, Luís Figo, went from the Nou Camp to the Bernabeu for a then-world record £37m. Barcelona fans, understandably, were a little miffed and threw missiles, including a pig’s head, at Figo during his first El Classico for Los Blancos.
3. Sol Campbell – Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal
England’s Sol Campbell was out of contract with Spurs, and had turned down the chance to become their highest earner. Having repeatedly said he’d never join their North London rivals, Arsenal, Campbell promptly did. Cue the now infamous chants of ‘Judas’ from Gunners’ fans.
4. Robinho – Real Madrid to Manchester City
With a transfer to Chelsea all but confirmed in the final hours of the 2008 transfer window, Manchester City flexed their new financial muscle by offering a £32.5m to secure the services of Brazil’s hot new winger expecting him to set the Premier League alight. He didn’t. And later said he found Manchester ‘an awful place to live’. Probably not the best way to endear yourself to a new set of fans.
5. Fabrizio Ravanelli – Juventus to Middlesbrough
Italy’s silver haired centre-forward had just won the Series A title with Juventus and could have chosen any club in the world to continue his career. Bizarrely, he chose Middlesbrough and probably instantly regretted it. His career on Teeside started well with a league debut hat-trick against Liverpool, but he soon realised his new club were unlikely to trouble Europe’s elite club competitions, making his decision to join the Boro revolution even more baffling.
6. Samuel Eto'o – Inter Milan to Anzhi Makhachkala
One of European football’s most feared and highly decorated footballers, Eto’o had won titles in Spain and Italy. Of course with that résumé, the only thing left to do is join an obscure Russian outfit that play in sub-zero temperatures. Wages rumored to be in the realm of €10m per season might just have been a factor.
7. Didier Drogba – Chelsea to Shanghai Shenhua
Another legendary striker, Ivory Coast’s talisman Drogba had just won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea – scoring the decisive penalty kick in the process. What then came as a big surprise was his decision to join China’s Shanghai Shenhua to help raise the country’s footballing profile. Reported wages of £193,000 a week may have influenced the Ivorian’s decision to head to the Far East.
8. Bebé – Vitória de Guimarães to Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson was shrewd at recruiting young talent to Old Trafford. However, he didn’t always get it right – as was the case with Bebé. Paying around £7.5m for an unproven player could have been a masterstroke had the Portuguese become a club legend. It wasn’t and he didn’t. In fact, Bebé played just twice for the Red Devils. Sir Alex later admitted he’d never seen him play before he signed for United. There’s a lesson there, Sir Alex…
9. Thomas Gravesen – Everton to Real Madrid
This transfer even came as shock to Gravesen himself. After hearing of the interest of the Spanish giants, Gravesen remarked “…it comes as a great surprise, I know absolutely nothing.” Moving to the Bernabeu for £2.5m, Gravesen played 34 times and even scored once. Rumours were abound, however, that Real actually wanted to sign Everton’s other bald midfielder master, Lee Carseley, although neither player really jumps to mind when you think of the Galacticos.
10. Marco Boogers – Sparta Rotterdam to West Ham
After a decade playing in the Dutch League, Boogers joined the East London club in July 1995 even though Harry Redknapp had never seen him play. Coming on as a substitute against Manchester United in only his second match, Boogers was sent off almost immediately for a violent challenge on Gary Neville. The press described it as a horror tackle and suggested he’d been signed purposefully to injure a Manchester United player. Boogers claimed the wet grass made him slide too far (and presumably too high as well). In total he played just four times for the Hammers which, ironically, was the length of the ban he was given for the challenge on Neville. An urban myth was doing the rounds that Boogers was last known to be living in a caravan in Holland. We wonder if Gary Neville’s been round for a cuppa yet?
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