It is not just during the season when the football world can shock, stun and amaze. Each summer, the transfer window generates dozens of fascinating sagas as teams look to strengthen and players look to cement their legacy (and/or earn themselves jaw dropping wages). Sometimes these transfers seem to come out of thin air, whilst there have also been several players that have done the unthinkable and joined their clubs fiercest rival, much to the fans dismay. These unbelievable transfers are the ones that shake the entire football world and the ramifications from many of these are still felt today.
10. Carlos Tevez (Man United to Man City)
Despite impressing and playing an important role at United, ongoing contract issues and growing tension between Tevez and Sir Alex Ferguson ultimately saw him make a move away from the club in 2009. Tevez ruled out moving to Liverpool due to their rivalry with United, but he instead moved to their cross town rivals Manchester City for a British transfer record of around £47 million. Manchester City were very much on the rise and a threat to Manchester United, and Tevez became the first player to switch between the clubs since Terry Cooke in 1999. Tevez would help Man City to the Premier League title in 2011/12, but that season was shrouded in controversy after Tevez refused to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich. He moved on to Juventus in 2013 and has recently returned to his first club, Boca Juniors.
9. Robinho (Real Madrid to Man City)
Transfer deadline day can always provide excitement, but this transfer proved to be one of the most shocking late signings of all-time and left Chelsea fans dumbfounded. Robinho looked set to join the Blues from Real Madrid for £32 million and all parties were keen on the move, but then news came through that Manchester City had been bought out by Arab investment company Abu Dhabi United Group. With a sudden unlimited budget, Man City were desperate to make some marquee signings to announce themselves as one of the top clubs in England and Europe. After failing to stop the Dimitar Berbatov move from the Spurs to Man United, City turned their attention to Robinho, making a much more attractive offer than Chelsea’s, causing Robinho to sign with them late in the window. This shocked the football world, and also marked the beginning of Man City’s rise to become an elite club.
8. Rio Ferdinand (Leeds to Man United)
In 2000, Rio Ferdinand joined Leeds for a British transfer record £18 million (also making him the most expensive defender in the world). Ferdinand helped Leeds to become one of the top teams in England and Europe, seeing them reach the Champions League semi-finals in his first season. He became club captain the following season and once again was impressive, but this season they failed to qualify for the Champions League. During the summer, and the 2002 World Cup, rumors began to spread that the club were on the verge of a financial implosion after not having enough income to repay large loans. As a result, Leeds were forced to sell their prized asset to fierce rivals Man United, and this marked the beginning of Leeds’ descent. Ferdinand was sold for around £30 million, once again making him the most expensive British player and defender.
7. David Beckham (Real Madrid to LA Galaxy)
David Beckham forever changed the face of football when he made this high profile switch in 2007. The most famous footballer in the world had just helped Real Madrid to their 30th La Liga title, but he would then leave one of the biggest and most successful clubs of all-time for a move to the MLS. At the time, the MLS had not received much exposure globally, but this signing would forever change that. The MLS is now widely followed throughout the globe and many of Europe’s top talent have since opted for a move stateside. Whilst it helped the MLS to get more coverage, and Beckham was earning staggering amounts, many wonder if Beckham sacrificed several more seasons playing with Europe’s elite for the money and a glamorous lifestyle in Los Angeles.
6. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea)
During the January transfer window in the 2010/11 season, Fernando Torres would complete what would become an infamous transfer and one which the striker has never fully recovered from. Liverpool had new owners and a new manager, but Torres had decided to pave a move away from the club where he had been so prolific. Chelsea would submit a £40 million bid which was immediately rejected, leading Torres to submit a transfer request the following day. Liverpool held out until the final day of the window, where Torres completed a move to Chelsea for a fee of around £50 million, which was a British transfer record. The move would turn out to be a disaster and Torres would score just one goal in his debut season, and his struggles would continue as he appeared a shadow of his former self.
5. Kaka (A.C. Milan to Real Madrid)
Kaka stunned the world by joining Real Madrid from A.C. Milan in 2009. Not only had he expressed his desire to stay at the Italian club, but he also moved for a world record fee of £56 million (this would quickly be eclipsed by Ibrahimovic’s £59 million move to Barcelona). Kaka was perhaps the best player in the world, helping A.C. Milan to a Champions League trophy in 2006/2007 and scoring 70 goals for the club up to the end of the 2008/09 season. He had stated he wanted to “grow old” at the club and one day become the captain, which reassured fans that he would be back the following season. In June that summer, however, it was reported that new Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had tabled a bid, and a few days later it was confirmed that Kaka was making the switch.
4. Mario Gotze (Dortmund to Bayern)
Between 2009 and 2013, Mario Gotze played for Borussia Dortmund and was one of the top young talents in the world. Gotze played a huge role in Dortmund becoming a dominant force, helping them to the 2010/11 Bundesliga title, the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double the following season and the Champions League Final in 2013, where they would fall to bitter rivals Bayern Munich. Prior to Dortmund’s semi-final encounter with Real Madrid, it was announced that Gotze would be moving to Bayern in the summer after a £37 million bid was made that triggered a release clause in the playmaker’s contract. This made him the most expensive German player of all-time, but this was eclipsed later that summer by Mezut Ozil. Dortmund fans did not take kindly to the betrayal, and he has since been known as “Judas” by the Dortmund faithful.
3. Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal)
Most players know better than to join a fierce rival, but Sol Campbell would shake North London, and the entire football world, when he joined Arsenal from the Spurs on a free transfer in 2001. In order to retain the services of the talented CB, the Spurs offered him a deal which would make him their highest paid player ever, and he had publicly stated he would never play for Arsenal. Then, with no rumor or indication of a switch, Campbell turned his back on the Lilywhites and signed for the Gunners. He was titled “Judas” by the Tottenham fans and the anger did not subside. Four Spurs fans were banned from every ground for seven years after being found guilty of chanting offensive songs at Campbell. A few players have played for both North London clubs since, but none have caused such a stir as Campbell in 2001.
2. Mo Johnston (Nantes to Rangers)
The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is unlike any other, with both teams from Glasgow and having opposed religious beliefs. Mo Johnston played for Celtic between 1984 and 1987, helping them to the Scottish Cup and the League Championship with his goalscoring ability (72 in 128 matches). He went on to play for Nantes between 1987 and 1989, but would then do the unthinkable and join Rangers (becoming just the second player to play for both sides of the rivalry since WW2, and the most high profile Catholic to play for the Protestant club). The move initially upset both sets of fans, with Celtic labeling Johnston “Judas,” whilst many Rangers fans threatened to hand in their season tickets, and the kitman refused to work with Johnston. He would soon win over Rangers fans after scoring the winner against Celtic and helping them to two league titles.
1. Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid)
As this list demonstrates, some players decide to make the switch to a team’s bitter rival, and this will always spark plenty of anger. But no player switching to a rival has ever caused as much fury as Luis Figo, who was adored at Camp Nou before leaving for Real Madrid in 2000. At Barca, Figo had won consecutive league titles and a Cup Winners’ Cup medal, along with scoring 30 goals for the Catalan giants. He then shockingly made the switch for £37 million, which was a world record fee at the time. The noise at his first match against his former team was deafening and Camp Nou was adorned with signs such as “Judas,” “scum” and “traitor,” and the pitch was bombarded with objects throughout the game. Three seasons later the hatred was still strong at Camp Nou, seeing a pig’s head being thrown at him during the match.