Luis Figo and 10 Other Shock Transfer Moves

Christopher AtkinsContributor INovember 4, 2014

Luis Figo and 10 Other Shock Transfer Moves

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    PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

    It's Luis Figo's birthday and that gives us the opportunity to celebrate the Portuguese magician's career—in this case, his controversial but fruitful transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid.

    For all Figo's successes throughout his career, it is the reaction to his move between the El Clasico rivals that lives long in the memory, including the notorious pig's head thrown on the pitch at Camp Nou.

    Here, in honour of that move, Bleacher Report takes a look at 10 other shocking and controversial transfers over the years.

    Who makes the cut?

Pascal Chimbonda, Wigan to Tottenham

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    GRAHAM HUGHES/Associated Press

    When a player wants a transfer, there are ways and means of getting out of a club and to the place you would rather be. Pascal Chimbonda, though, was not content to stick to normal etiquette.

    Speaking to BBC Sport in 2006, then manager Paul Jewell explained:

    I was shaking the players' hands as they came off to congratulate them on a magnificent season.

    He came up to me, still in his kit, and handed me a transfer request, along with a note to thank me and the club for all our help. I was livid.

    As burning bridges go, Chimbonda ensured that they were cremated. He eventually got his move to Tottenham but rarely performed as he had for the Latics in his time in the north-west.

John Robertson, Nottingham Forest to Derby

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    Associated Press

    A key member of the Nottingham Forest side that won two European Cups, John Robertson's transfer from Nottingham to Derby was the move that ended good relations between Brian Clough and former assistant Peter Taylor.

    By now manager of Derby, Taylor moved to sign Robertson from Forest in 1982, much to the annoyance of Clough who described Taylor as "a snake in the grass" per The Guardian.

    It would be the last time the pair, who had enjoyed much success together, would ever speak.

Denis Law, Manchester United to Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Denis Law crossed the Manchester divide not once but twice. Having played with City, the Scotsman moved to United via Italian side Torino before switching back to City in 1972.

    Law, though, spent his glory years alongside the likes of George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton at United, scoring 237 goals in 404 games for the Red Devils and winning the European Footballer of the Year award.

    However, when he moved back across the city a decade later, Law would remarkably score the goal that would see United relegated to the Second Division on the season's final day. It is quite some tale.

Ashley Cole, Arsenal to Chelsea

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Arsenal got just £5 million plus Frenchman William Gallas in the end for Ashley Cole, rated by many as England's outstanding player of his generation. The eventual move, though, was necessary to bring to an end one of English football's most ridiculous sagas.

    It was in 2005 that the Blues first made an attempt to take Cole to Stamford Bridge, with Peter Kenyon and Jose Mourinho meeting the player and his agent in the infamous "tapping-up" saga. That attempt failed.

    A one-year extension later, though, and Cole was ready to make the move, having since stated his fury to BBC Sport at the derisory £55,000-a-week that Arsenal were offering. Chelsea got their man, but Cole and Arsenal's ill-feeling continues to this day.

Bebe, Vitoria Guimaraes to Manchester United

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    Ibrahim Usta/Associated Press

    When Manchester United paid an incredible £7.2 million in 2010 for a virtual unknown who had been playing third-tier football in Portugal just months earlier, most were left flabbergasted.

    Bebe arrived at Old Trafford having only joined Vitoria earlier that summer, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitting he signed the player without having seen him play.

    It was not only fans who failed to understand the deal, though, with the Guardian's David Conn reporting in 2012 that police were investigating the transaction. While much improved, Bebe left United for Benfica this summer for a £5 million loss.

Mo Johnston, Nantes to Rangers

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    What was so remarkable about former Celtic idol Mo Johnston's move to Rangers was that the transfer infuriated supporters on both sides of the Old Firm divide.

    Celtic fans, of course, were devastated to see their former star head to their biggest rivals. Some Rangers fans, on the other hand, disagreed with the club's decision to move against their historical norm and sign a Catholic player.

    Johnston's time at Ibrox was therefore understandably difficult, with the move uniting a divided city in fury. He would last just two years with the club.

Robin Van Persie, Arsenal to Manchester United

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    When "the little boy inside" told Robin van Persie to leave Arsenal in the direction of Old Trafford, fans of the Gunners were left both hurt and amazed.

    Frankly, to the rest of the country, it was unbelievable that the London side even entertained the idea of selling their star to a rival—yet alone actually going through with it. In his first season, he fired United to a league title.

    Arsenal fans were not shy in giving their former player abuse, and Van Persie has notably celebrated when scoring against his former side. It is fair to say relations are still tense despite some deep-lying mutual affection.

Roberto Baggio, Fiorentina to Juventus

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    MARCO VASINI/Associated Press

    Very few transfers can claim to have sparked riots, but Roberto Baggio's 1990 move from Fiorentina to Juventus for a new world-record fee incensed fans of the Viola.

    The player, too, insisted he had no choice on the move and, indeed, subsequently refused to take a penalty against his former side out of respect.

    To this day, Baggio's move is regarded as one of the most shocking in the history of Italian football.

Carlos Tevez, Manchester United to City

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    "Welcome to Manchester" was the poster that greeted Carlos Tevez following his switch across the city from United to City in 2009, provoking Sir Alex Ferguson into his "noisy neighbours" jibe.

    Tevez won the Champions League with United the previous year; however, the club opted against taking up the clause in his two-year loan contract in spite of Tevez's public calls for a deal.

    In stepped City and the Argentine scampered across town, despite seemingly having little affection for Manchester itself. United fans have never forgiven his decision.

Sol Campbell, Tottenham to Arsenal

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    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Sol Campbell crossed the north London divide in controversial style when he accepted Arsenal's contract offer to leave Spurs on a free after months of negotiations.

    Tottenham captain at the time, Campbell was famously labelled "Judas" by the furious White Hart Lane faithful for going back on previous promises to stay.

    In truth, the England regular would have been forgiven had he joined pretty much any other side in world football. Going across town to the fierce local rivals, though, was never going to go down well.