Ranking the 20 Strangest Transfer-Deadline-Day Moves in History
Ever see a transfer and wonder: "Huh?" Well, here are the 20 strangest transfer-deadline-day moves, which will be ranked on shock factor.
The 20 signings have been selected since the introduction of the transfer window in the 2002-03 season, per BBC Sport:
UEFA has indicated that it favours the introduction of a transfer window for the movement of players.
The recommendation is for two periods of activity a year.
A statement from UEFA said: "The executive committee decided to recommend to UEFA's 51 member associations the adoption of harmonised transfer windows from 2002-03."
Feel free to comment below with your own examples.
20. Afonso Alves (Heerenveen to Middlesbrough; 2008)
Heerenveen centre-forward Afonso Alves moved to Middlesbrough for £12.5 million, per Patrick Nathanson at the Telegraph.
"[Alves] was granted a work permit on the deadline day for the January transfer window," Nathanson wrote. "[He] signed a four-and-a-half year deal with the club."
What made this deal so bizarre was Alves had averaged 1.2 goals per game at Heerenveen and managed to score seven goals in one game against Heracles Almelo.
So why was Alves signing with Middlesbrough?
With the benefit of hindsight, he has since played with Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa, so his priority was always about money, rather than gritting his teeth and helping Middlesbrough become relevant.
Harry Pearson at the Guardian pointed out that like other expensive Middlesbrough signings, Alves was the latest to fail.
Alves lasted two seasons at Middlesbrough before abandoning the club for a Qatari sojourn.
19. Victor Anichebe (Everton to West Bromwich Albion; 2013)
West Bromwich Albion signed centre-forward Victor Anichebe from Everton for £6 million on transfer deadline day in the last summer window, per Sky Sports.
"They [West Brom] are reported to have spent £5 million to sign the 25-year-old with clauses taking the possible cost up by a further £1 million," per Sky Sports. "[Anichebe made] 168 appearances across all competitions scoring 26 goals."
Anichebe has never played 38 Premier League games in a season nor has he ever reached 10 league goals in one campaign.
How is he worth around £6 million?
This season, he has scored one goal from 11 league games.
18. Eric Djemba-Djemba (Manchester United to Aston Villa; 2005)
Manchester United dumping Eric Djemba-Djemba on Aston Villa was Sir Alex Ferguson and Co.'s way of saying: "Whoops."
Djemba-Djemba did not even play out the duration of his contract before United started looking for suitors.
Villa had the misfortune of signing him, per Mat Kendrick at the Birmingham Mail.
"Eric Djemba-Djemba—so bad they named him twice—was rushed in for £1.35 million on January 31 2005," Kendrick wrote. "All he [Djemba-Djemba] left Villa with, after going bankrupt, was a bill for unpaid for merchandise obtained from the club shop."
17. Joe Cole (Liverpool to Lille on Loan; 2011)
"[Liverpool] delivered on all of their targets for [the 2011 summer] transfer deadline day, shifting Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, David Ngog and Philipp Degen and re-signing Craig Bellamy," Andy Hunter at the Guardian wrote. "[Liverpool] have agreed to pay 60 percent of Cole's wages during his season at Lille."
One of Cole's reasons for failing at Liverpool was the incessant demands from fans when he went out.
According to him, it was more intense than playing for a London-based football club.
"You can go around London and you get left alone," Cole said, per Jim White at the Telegraph. "In Liverpool the football club is the main thing in city, so there's no escape. The people are great, don't get me wrong, lovely people, but they are at you all the time."
Then there was Roy Hodgson's disastrous tenure as Reds manager, Cole not living up to his wages and him wanting to pack it in.
So these are the events which led to a peculiar loan move to Lille.
For an Englishman to sign with a foreign club despite being good enough to play for a mid-tier or bottom-tier Premier League club was a shock.
"I think we're very blinkered in England, we know about Barcelona and Real Madrid and not much beyond," Cole said, per Jim White at the Telegraph. "It's opened my eyes a bit."
The move to Lille refreshed Cole's career, and he played 32 Ligue 1 games during the 2011-12 season.
16. Ricardo Quaresma (Inter Milan to Chelsea on Loan; 2009)
Then Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho admonished Ricardo Quaresma's mental toughness as the former Porto star could not replicate his Portuguese Primeira Liga performances in Serie A.
"He [Quaresma] needs to have the mental strength to overcome the criticisms and react in a positive way," Mourinho said, per John Ley at the Telegraph. "Without confidence in oneself it becomes more difficult."
You know what a vote of no confidence is?
Mourinho giving away Quaresma to Chelsea on loan during the 2009 January transfer window deadline day, per ESPN FC.
15. Andy van der Meyde (Inter Milan to Everton; 2005)
Here was the BBC Sport tracker during the 2005 summer transfer deadline day when Andy van der Meyde became a quizzical transfer target for Everton, per BBC Sport:
1520: Everton have still to decide whether to spend £2 million on injured Dutch winger Andy van der Meyde and they are also chasing a striker.
1625: Everton announce that they have completed the signing of Dutch international midfielder Andy van der Meyde from Inter Milan for an undisclosed fee.
Note the word "injured" and time between the two updates.
Everton did not have time to do a thorough background check on Van der Meyde, per his autobiography (h/t David Prentice at the Liverpool Echo):
[Everton] offered me £30,000 a week—more than double my pay at Inter Milan. I bought a Ferrari and first stop was the Newz Bar, a popular place in Liverpool. After a couple of hours of alcohol I drove to the nearest strip club.
Soon I couldn't sleep without popping a pill—I was addicted. The pills were pretty heavy, the kind you only get with a doctor’s prescription. So I stole them from the office of the club doctor and no one noticed, for more than two years I stole those pills.
Van der Meyde is a typical panic transfer.
Everton thought they were getting a quality player, instead they signed an injured and unprofessional footballer.
14. Nicolas Anelka (Manchester City to Fenerbahce; 2005)
Say one thing, do another was Nicolas Anelka's motto at Manchester City. He is the reason why fans often have such a pessimistic view to players saying they would stay.
"Leaving is not my aim and I won't walk away because I don't have a problem here [City]," Anelka said, per Graeme Bailey at Sky Sports. "It is true that I would love to play at a big club again, but I am still under contract at Manchester City and it is up to them to decide if they want me or if they want to let me go."
What did Anelka do? He signed with Fenerbahce before the 2005 January transfer window closed, per BBC Sport.
In the weeks leading up to the transfer, Anelka displayed erratic behaviour, per Simon Stone at the Guardian:
Anelka has not trained since refusing to take a fitness test ahead of the Arsenal game and will not get the chance to do so until tomorrow at the earliest after Keegan handed his players a day off.
It means the 25-year-old is not likely to play again until the visit of Newcastle on February 2, by which time the transfer window will have closed and Anelka's short-term future resolved.
If Anelka was injured, why did he not just take the fitness test? Surely, he would have failed it. For him to bail on a fitness test suggests he had something to hide. Was he actually injured?
In hindsight, it was one of his tactics to ensure City sold him to Fenerbahce, a left-field destination given he had played for Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Liverpool.
13. Collins John (Twente to Fulham; 2004)
Then Twente prodigy Collins John, who looked like Ronaldo Luis-PSV version, was a jaw-dropping transfer deadline-day signing in the 2004 January window.
"He's [Collins John is] going to be a good player in the future," then Fulham manager Chris Coleman said, per FulhamFC.com. "We're not going to ask too much of him too soon and we know that we'll need to protect him."
Modest words from Coleman, because John was a phenom at Twente, as he scored a hat-trick against Groningen and a brace against Vitesse as a teenager.
For him to jump ship and sign with Fulham was bizarre.
The circumstances surrounding his transfer were murky but not illegal, per Alistair Grant at the Guardian:
Fulham appear to be in the clear over the Dutch football association's investigation into Collins John's move from FC Twente as they did not negotiate with his unlicensed agent.
Holland's governing body threatened to refer the John deal to their prosecutor if the player's unlicensed agent, the former Ipswich player Romeo Zondervan, had been involved in the move.
12. Gilberto da Silva Melo (Hertha Berlin to Tottenham Hotspur; 2008)
"Totttenham [Hotspur] have completed the signing of Brazilian left-back Gilberto from Hertha Berlin for a reported £1.9 million," per BBC Sport. "The player was out of contract at the end of the season."
Kicker judge players on a rating from one to six, six being the worst.
Before being signed for Spurs on the 2008 January transfer-deadline day, Gilberto had four performances when he received a rating of five, which indicates he was out of form at Hertha, per Kicker.
If Spurs really wanted him, they should have just waited until the summer transfer window, when he would have been a free transfer.
Martin Smith at the Telegraph was prophetic with his words:
Gilberto, a Brazilian World Cup participant who joined from Hertha Berlin in January, made the crucial error that led to PSV Eindhoven's decisive goal, scored by the impressive Jefferson Farfan after 34 minutes.
Gilberto's debut at left-back lasted just 45 minutes, his Spurs career may not be much longer unless head coach Juande Ramos is particularly forgiving.
Within two years, Gilberto returned to Brazil to play for Cruzeiro.
11. Frederic Veseli (Manchester City to Manchester United; 2012)
"Manchester United have completed the deadline-day signing of defensive prospect Frederic Veseli from neighbours Manchester City," per James Tuck at ManUtd.com. "[Veseli is] a versatile, cultured defender who is comfortable on the ball."
Veseli never established himself as a City first-team player, so unless he was a diamond in the rough, which he was not, there was no way he would make the United first-team.
He was released a year and five months after signing with United, per Alice McKeegan at the Manchester Evening News.
What a weird sequence of events.
10. Andres D'Alessandro (Wolfsburg to Portsmouth on Loan; 2006)
Andres D'Alessandro was Wolfsburg's record-transfer-fee signing in 2003, per ESPN FC, but by 2006, he was looking to leave.
Then Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp wheeled and dealed to sign D'Alessandro on loan on transfer deadline day, per BBC Sport.
"Twenty-five in April, D'Alessandro's career has stalled after two-and-a-half-years in Germany with Wolfsburg," per Tim Vickery at BBC Sport. "Only hindsight will reveal whether the move to Portsmouth is a step forwards, sideways or backwards."
It was a step backwards, as the move to Portsmouth never reignited D'Alessandro's belief that he could succeed in Europe.
For the last six years, he has been playing for Brazilian club Internacional.
9. Marouane Fellaini (Everton to Manchester United; 2013)
Everton manager Roberto Martinez was counting down the days until Marouane Fellaini's release clause expired.
Martinez was overjoyed when Manchester United did not come calling.
"It's well documented that Marouane's contract has a clause [and] that clause expired on 31 July," Martinez said, per BBC Sport. "As you can imagine, for a manager that gives you a real sense of celebration when that day arrives."
Once United chief executive Ed Woodward missed all his transfer targets, he signed Fellaini for £27.5 million, £4 million more than what United would have paid if they had met his release clause before it expired, per Jamie Jackson at the Guardian.
8. Andy Carroll (Newcastle United to Liverpool; 2011)
Liverpool signed Andy Carroll from Newcastle United for £35 million on the 2011 January transfer-deadline day, per Andy Hunter at the Guardian.
Carroll scored six goals in 44 league games, and the hiring of Brendan Rodgers, a possession-based manager, all but ended Carroll's career at Liverpool.
Liverpool sold him at a £20 million loss to West Ham United, and it was history repeating itself.
Their co-owner, David Sullivan, regretted the deal just like Liverpool management did.
"We can't buy a player [Carroll] knowing he is going to be out for half the season," Sullivan said, per Ben Smith at BBC Sport. "We are not a rich enough club to deal with that."
7. Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea; 2011)
In four seasons at Chelsea, Fernando Torres has yet to score 10 Premier League goals in one campaign.
This season, he has four goals in 17 league games.
During Torres' darker days at Chelsea, he admitted he did not care about the club, per El Pais (h/t Sid Lowe at the Guardian):
I had team-mates who didn't care if the team won or lost because they were not playing. I never wanted to be like that.
[But] one day I discovered that I was like them, that it didn't matter it we won or lost if I was not playing. I wasn't part of the group.
I discovered that I was not happy because I had stopped being what I had always wanted to be. In the dressing room, you can never lose that group concept.
To Torres' credit, he did score 22 goals last season, but only eight in the Premier League.
Here is the saving grace for Chelsea in giving £50 million to Liverpool for Torres on the 2011 January transfer-deadline day: The Reds spent £35 million of it on Andy Carroll.
6. Robinho (Real Madrid to Manchester City; 2008)
Leading into transfer-deadline day, Chelsea were in pole position to sign Robinho, only for Real Madrid to sell him to an upstart team in City.
Robinho later hit out at City management and wished he had ended up at Chelsea, where he would have been managed by his compatriot Luiz Felipe Scolari, per the People (h/t ESPN FC):
Neither [Mark] Hughes nor [Roberto] Mancini understood [me]. That was my problem. I am a special footballer and I need to be happy when I'm playing.
Perhaps I should never have left Real Madrid.
My destination was Chelsea with Luiz Felipe Scolari but, at the last moment, City appeared and I accepted.
5. Xisco (Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle United; 2008)
Newcastle United signed centre-forward Xisco from Deportivo La Coruna for £5.7 million on the 2008 summer transfer-deadline day, per Giles Mole at the Telegraph.
Xisco was on the books of Newcastle for four-and-a-half years earning £50,000-a-week but only played nine times, per Daniel Prince at the Shields Gazette.
What a waste of money.
4. Dwight Yorke (Sydney FC to Sunderland; 2006)
You know what was brilliant about Dwight Yorke's triumphant season at Sydney FC?
He was partying like there was no tomorrow, living up to the infamous nickname, "All Night Dwight", per the Daily Telegraph.
It is one thing to have that baggage while playing in a developing league, it was irresponsible of then Sunderland manager Roy Keane to bring Yorke back to top-flight football.
Unsurprisingly, Yorke and Keane, who were teammates at Manchester United, clashed.
"My experience of being in the game for 23 years as a pro is that you've got to be able to deal with people," Yorke said, per the Independent. " I don't think Roy [Keane] is a people person."
3. Andre Santos (Fenerbahce to Arsenal; 2011)
Andre Santos arrived from Fenerbahce for £6.2 million yet never settled.
"The first critics after the game are always a bit emotional because you have one or two big mistakes in your mind and we are all the same on that front," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said as he attempted to justify Andre Santos' errors, per Chris Harris at Arsenal.com. "But when you watch the games again, you will see that he has done some good things."
It was just lip-service from Wenger, as his actions contradicted his stance.
A few weeks after those comments, Santos was sent on loan to Gremio, per Simon Rice at the Independent.
Five months after defending Santos, Wenger sold the left-back to Flamengo, per ESPN FC.
2. Ignacio Gonzalez (Valencia to Newcastle United on Loan; 2008)
Ignacio Gonzalez was caught in the middle of a bitter dispute between then Newcastle United director of football Dennis Wise and manager Kevin Keegan.
"I resigned because I was being asked to sanction the signing of a player [Gonzalez] in order to do a favour for two South American agents," Keegan said, per Louise Taylor at the Guardian. "I was asked to sign him on the basis of some clip on YouTube. This is something I was not prepared to be associated with in any way."
People often disregard the end game for Wise, which was to broker a relationship with agents he deemed as influential.
As a result, Gonzalez was always stigmatised.
He made two appearances off the bench before an Achilles injury essentially ended his spell at Newcastle.
1. Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano (Corinthians to West Ham United; 2006)
Carlos Tevez had made a surprising decision to sign with Corinthians having won four trophies with Boca Juniors.
He made an even more astonishing decision by ending up at West Ham United with emerging midfield destroyer Javier Mascherano.
A few months into their stint at West Ham, then Argentina national team manager Alfio Basile lamented the situation both Argentine internationals had gotten themselves into.
"I hope for God's sake that Mascherano can go to Juventus as it has been said, even if he has to play in the second division in Italy," Basile said, per BBC Sport. "And Tevez can play in any position in the attacking line, but not as a left-winger like he is currently playing."
While West Ham avoided relegation due to Tevez's heroics, it doomed Sheffield United, and the Blades responded by taking West Ham to court, per Bill Neenan at the Guardian:
West Ham have agreed to pay more than £10 million—to be paid in installments over five years—and Sheffield United will withdraw all of its complaints against the London club, ending the legal battle that began with United arguing that Tevez's participation in key matches in breach of the Premier League's third-party agreement rules had been decisive in helping them to remain in the top league while Sheffield were relegated.
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