Football players come and go with extreme ease nowadays, as teams are more active when it comes to signing new ones. It’s always hard when a team has to lose one of their most important assets in order to sell him to a bigger club or just get rid of a club legend to make room for newcomers, but football is a business more than anything and this happens more often than we want.
Loyalty is considered very important in this game and is very harmful when it is broken. Some transfers are more relevant than others, but there is a select group of signings that shocked the world due to their development, ending and consequences. Here are the top 10 shocking transfers in recent years.
10. David Beckham
(from Real Madrid to L.A. Galaxy)
David Beckham’s departure from Real Madrid to go to L.A. and play for the Galaxy was both bold and shocking in the eyes of many, as the English star still got the talent and the quality to continue being an important piece in Los Blancos squad, but Becks was keen to face new challenges, creating a revolution in the Major League Soccer.
He landed in California and became the highest-paid player of his team (by a lot) and the revenues for the club after Beckham’s arrival were huge, becoming an attraction for neutral fans and people who weren’t used to watching MLS. During the last years of his career, Beckham managed himself more as a brand than as a player, but he proved during his loans on Milan and PSG that he could have been still relevant in European football if he had stuck around for a couple of years.
9. Carlos Tevez & Javier Mascherano
(from Corinthians to West Ham)
Two young players who did great while they were in Brazilian side Corinthians and were expected to leave the club during the middle of 2006 after great performances and a potential that would take them to the top. With plenty of teams trying to acquire one or both players, it was English team West Ham United who took the Argentinian prospects.
This was certainly a weird move for both players since they were landing in a team that was fighting for not being relegated from Premier League. Later we knew that the third-party ownership of these two had a major role in their arrival to the Hammers.
Despite that, both Tevez and Mascherano has had marvelous careers, with Carlos playing in Manchester United after his departure from West Ham, then he went to play for other important sides such as Manchester City and Juventus. As for the Jefecito (little chief), he got to play for two big teams, such as Liverpool and Barcelona, where he became some sort of idol after several years playing at a great level.
8. Ruud Gullit
(free transfer to Chelsea)
Maybe you can say this doesn’t sound crazy seeing the level and pedigree Chelsea has today, but back in 1995, where this signing happened, Chelsea was pretty much a mediocre team –to say the best-, therefore the arrival of a star like Ruud Gullit was surprising even for Chelsea fans.
Gullit was a player that had won several awards both individually and collectively. He won the European Cup twice, the Euro with the Netherlands and also managed to be a recipient of the European Footballer of the Year award. This was indeed a surprise, but at the end, it was favorable for the Blues, who saw how their signings improved after Gullit landed on Stamford Bridge. They went from sign average player to buy guys like Gianfranco Zola or Marcel Desailly.
(from Vitoria de Guimaraes to Manchester United)
You know a signing is very unlikely to work out when you hear Sir Alex Ferguson say he didn’t see his newest player play before buying him. Sure, Ferguson has demonstrated in the past that he can pull off genius moves, but this one wasn’t exactly like that.
Nobody heard about Portuguese winger Bebe before he was acquired by Manchester United back on 2010; to make things worse, he didn’t even play for his prior team before Man. Utd, so this looked like a total madness and time proved it was exactly like that. Bebe ended up leaving the squad in 2014 with only four caps for the Red Devils so you can tell was indeed another bust.
(from Barcelona to PSG)
Here is Barcelona, which has lived several of these transfers. This time with Brazilian figure Neymar Jr., who was set to be the perfect replacement for Argentinian star Lio Messi when he got from Santos after 2014 FIFA World Cup. Well, Neymar got tired of waiting for both Barcelona and Messi to give him the reins of the team and started to make his way out of the team.
During the summer of 2017, Ney became the most-expensive football transfer in his way from Spain to Paris, something that even though was expected, shocked the football world. Now as a key player for the Parisians, Neymar has struggled to make the team truly competitive in Europe, since PSG has been unable to thrive in the Champions League and the Brazilian has missed crucial games due to injuries.
5. Diego Maradona
(from Barcelona to Napoli)
One of the biggest players in football history became a complete legend while he was playing in a team that had pretty much nothing to offer until his landing. During the beginning of the 80s, Diego Maradona left Barcelona amid controversy due to his episodes of indiscipline and his fights with the club’s directive; luckily for him, a club from Southern Italy tried its luck with Diego and that was the best decision they could make.
Whether you’re a fan of Maradona or not, you know that this guy changed the history of Napoli forever. He took them from being a team trying to avoid relegation every season to one that won the Serie A a couple of times, the Italian Cup and the cherry on the top, the UEFA Cup. Diego is a sort of god in Naples right now; that sums up what he did for this club.
4. Sol Campbell
(from Tottenham to Arsenal)
This transfer is still nowadays one of the most controversial in recent times. Campbell was one of the most important players –if not the most- in Tottenham’s ranks during the late ’90s and the beginning of the new millennium, being the captain of the team and a big referent in North London.
However, when his contract expired with Spurs, Campbell had the chance to go anywhere he wanted with no fee since the Bosman rule had just come into effect. Nevertheless, Sol stated several times that he would go to play anywhere except Tottenham’s biggest rivals, Arsenal; something that he’d do during the summer of 2001, becoming one of the most hated players in the North London rivalry.
Campbell’s actions had a made impact in the eyes of the Lilywhites, who still can’t forget or forgive what the center-back did at the beginning of the 2000s.
(from Barcelona to Milan)
The fairytale of the two-time FIFA’s world best player in Barcelona didn’t end the best way since Ronaldinho was involved in controversies with both teammates and the club’s front office. Ronaldinho faced accusations of missing “eight of every 50 training sessions” from teammates and when one of his biggest partners, Samuel Eto’o went after him, things just got worse for the Brazilian midfielder.
At some point, Barcelona was trying to get rid either of Eto’o or Ronaldinho, who were set to leave the club after their confrontations. It was Ronaldinho who had to leave the Blaugrana headquarters after Pep Guardiola confirmed that the club didn’t plan on retain Ronaldinho with them. He turned down a €25.5 million offer from new rich Manchester City and instead decided to go to Milan in one of the most dramatic and controversial transfers we remember in the last years.
2. Luis Figo
(from Barcelona to Real Madrid)
A year before the controversial Campbell transfer, the Luis Figo one took place, which became one of the most famous (or infamous) transfers that football fans have witnessed in the last 20 years. With Barcelona gaining back the respect they lost during the mid-90s, they presented some interesting players in their ranks and Luis Figo was possibly the most important of them.
Figo was the biggest star of the Blaugrana, a complete idol at Camp Nou, winning two league titles. So, when Real Madrid with its big checkbook tried and actually bought Figo, that felt like the biggest betrayal for Barcelona’s fans. Figo’s comebacks to Catalonia were never happy, especially the first one when people received him with several objects, including a pig’s head that they threw at him during throw-ins and corners.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
(from Real Madrid to Juventus)
This is the most recent episode of this list and probably the most shocking one of all. Following nine years of nothing but success with Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo thought it was time for him to get paid more money, something that the club’s president Florentino Perez disagreed with. Things ended up very well between the Los Blancos chairman and the Portuguese striker, who demanded to be sold to the Italian side, Juventus.
Now things are going very well for CR7 since he’s having a wonderful first season in Italy, where Juventus is the leader of the Serie A with a huge advantage over their hunters, Napoli and Inter, while Real Madrid is trying to recover the old form they had when Cristiano was still part of the team that won three Champions League titles in a row.