Amidst further speculation over Robin Van Persie’s future, the question on everybody’s lips in world football is, ‘are Arsenal going to let their best player join their fierce rivals Manchester United?’
If Van Persie was to join Manchester United it wouldn’t be the first time a player has decided to shift loyalties and join a major rival to their previous club. This article is going to look back at the 15 most controversial, mind boggling, ‘oh my days did he really do that’ transfers across English Football in recent years.
Sol Campbell – Spurs to Arsenal, 2001, Free Transfer
In what was the highest profile Bosman ruling free transfer at the time, the transfer become even more high profile due to the fact a player from Spurs was about to join arch rivals Arsenal. Not only that, it became even more controversial due to the fact that Sol Campbell was at the time the captain of Spurs. It’s fair to say that the transfer made Sol Campbell the most hated man at White Hart Lane, despite going on to great things at Arsenal, the transfer saga will always be a distinct memory of Campbell’s career.
Carlos Tevez – Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009, £25,000,000
A transfer from Manchester United to Manchester City say 10 years ago would’ve been a small deal in the grand scheme of things. However in 2009 where Manchester City, backed by Arab billionaires were rapidly becoming a new rival to Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League, a transfer between the two clubs caused absolute mayhem across England and the world. Carlos Tevez helped United to back to back titles, but speculation surrounding his happiness at the club opened up the door for a Manchester City move, after Tevez’ contract at United had run its course.
Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011, £50,000,000
Fernando Torres quickly became a fans favourite at Anfield and scored 81 goals in 142 appearances for the club. However Torres soon had his sights set on a move elsewhere and after months of speculation, Chelsea tabled a mammoth British record transfer fee to sign the Spaniard. £50m was just too hard for Liverpool to turn down, even to Chelsea one of their biggest Premier League rivals.
Juan Sebastian Veron – Manchester United to Chelsea, 2003, £15,000,000
The Argentinian superstar joined Manchester United at the time for a record British transfer fee of £28.1m in 2001. Veron failed to set the Premier League alight and his spell at Old Trafford was plagued with injuries and disappointing performances. Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Veron as a ‘f*cking great player’ when questioned over the players performances and expensive transfer fee paid for him. However Chelsea came knocking for Veron in 2003 and United decided to cut their losses and sell him for a cut price £15m. Veron somehow managed to disappoint more at Chelsea then he did at United, managing only 14 appearances at his time at Stamford Bridge, before finally being sold in 2007.
Andy Cole – Newcastle United to Manchester United, 1995, £7,000,000
Now, a player moving from Newcastle United to Manchester United in 2012 may not seem a big deal, however in 1995 where Newcastle had been competing with Man Utd for the title, Newcastle decided to sell their star striker to their main rival’s mid-way through the season. A transfer that shocked The Premier League, it seemed inconceivable that a team challenging for the title would sell their best striker to a title rival half way through the season. Blackburn Rovers piped Manchester United to the title that season, however Newcastle finished 6th and would live to regret selling Andy Cole in future seasons.
Ashley Cole – Chelsea to Arsenal, 2006, £5,000,000 + William Gallas
A transfer that really fuelled the ‘tapping up’ saga that was spreading across World Football, the Ashley Cole transfer stunk to high heaven of ‘tapping up’ something that Arsenal and the Premier League decided to deal with legally. Ashley Cole, Chelsea and Chelsea officials were fined for their part in the saga, however in 2006 Ashley Cole was eventually sold on deadline day. Chelsea had got their man, Ashley Cole had got the move he wanted, and Arsenal got a temperamental Frenchmen in William Gallas, who would go onto more transfer controversy in a few years time.
Samir Nasri – Arsenal to Manchester City, 2011, £25,000,000
Samir Nasri joined Arsenal with huge expectation on his shoulders, some touting him as the next Zinedine Zidane. However it took Nasri a few years to consistently reach his potential, by this time Arsenal had allowed Nasri’s contract to run down till its final year. All of a sudden alarm bells rung as Manchester United and Manchester City engaged in a bidding war to secure the signature of Samir Nasri, after the Frenchman had signalled his intent to leave the club after not winning any trophies. Manchester City prevailed in the signing of Samir Nasri and won the Premier League Trophy in his first season at the club.
Emmanuel Adebayor – Arsenal to Manchester City, 2009, £25,000,000
Emmanuel Adebayor joined Arsenal from Monaco in 2006 as a relative unknown. Adebayor frustrated the Arsenal faithful by showing momentary glimpses of sheer quality but then letting the team down with poor performances and bad attitude. Adebayor had signalled his intent to leave Arsenal and this made the Arsenal fans even more angry, even booing Adebayor whilst he was still playing for the club. Adebayor became one of 4 Arsenal players to join Manchester City in recent years, Adebayor was banned after his goal scoring celebration against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. However Adebayor soon become surplus to requirements at City. The transfer fiasco didn’t end there as Adebayor then moved on loan to Arsenal’s arch rivals Tottenham, a move that could yet be made permanent.
Denis Law – Manchester United to Manchester City, 1973, Free Transfer
The Manchester United folk hero and second all-time greatest goal scorer for the club, first started off his career at Huddersfield Town before moving to Manchester City. Manchester United then bought Law from City in 1962. Law went on to have a magical 11 years at the club, winning two League Titles, a European Cup and also being crowned European Footballer of the Year. In 1973 Law decided to leave Manchester United and join Manchester City again. Denis Law was on the decline as a footballer, however on the last game of the 1973-1974 season Denis Law’s back heel against United gave City a 1-0 victory, a victory that would see Law’s old team United relegated to the Old Second Division. From hero to Villain in an instant.
John Obi Mikel – Lynn Oslo to Chelsea, 2006, £20,000,000 (approx.)
Alleged kidnapping, dodgy agents, suspended prison sentences and deals being done without permission. The transfer of John Obi Mikel to Chelsea will always be remembered for the controversy surrounding it. The Nigerian star was highly sought after in 2006, Manchester United believed they had a deal agreed for Mikel, however Chelsea then also said they had a deal in place with Mikel. Chelsea ended up paying Manchester United to drop their end of the deal, one of many controversial transfer dealings Chelsea had found themselves part of at the start of the Abramovic era.
Nick Barmby – Everton to Liverpool, 2000, £6,000,000
Nick Barmby became the first player since 1959 to be sold from Everton to Liverpool. A fee of £6m was agreed for the Barmby who had spent 4 years at Everton. Manchester United expressed an interest in signing Barmby, however Liverpool outbid them and Barmby went on to spend 2 years at Anfield before moving to Leeds United.
Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United, 1992, £1,200,000
After winning the title at Elland Road with Leeds United, Eric Cantona was sold to Manchester United the very next season. A strange transfer as United had once again managed to coup one of their title rivals best players. Leeds United had originally enquired about signing Dennis Irwin from Manchester United, however Ferguson rejected any notion Irwin could leave and decided two can play that game, consequently bidding for Eric Cantona and Leeds United actually accepted. Eric Cantona went on to win 4 league titles and Leeds United has never won a title since.
William Gallas – Arsenal to Spurs, 2010, Free Transfer
After already being involved in one transfer saga from one rival to another, William Gallas then went on to a new venture around London by joining Spurs after rejecting a new deal at Arsenal. Gallas had an up and down time at Arsenal, how a move to Spurs is unlikely to do him any favours in regards to his popularity at the Emirates Stadium
Alan Smith – Leeds United to Manchester United, 2004, £7,000,000
In 2007 Alan Smith was one of the hottest properties in English football, he was part of a hugely talented Leeds United squad that hit financial difficulty and eventually got relegated in 2003/2004. Leeds United faced going into administration and famous pictures of Alan Smith crying as his boy hood club got relegated on the last day of the season. The rivalry was huge between Leeds United and Manchester United, however Alan Smith was faced with the daunting decision of choosing to stay at the club of his life and allowing them to go into Administration, or joining Arch Rivals Manchester United, with transfer fee rescuing Leeds United. Smith chose to move to United and even waived his personal transfer fee, this didn’t stop Leeds United fans feeling betrayed by Alan Smith.
Lee Clarke – Newcastle United to Sunderland, 1997, £2,500,000
Lee Clarke was born in Newcastle and came through the youth ranks at Newcastle and spent 7 years at Newcastle, helping them to two runner up positions in the Premier League. In 1997 Lee Clarke moved to local rivals and arch nemesis Sunderland in a £2.5m deal. After 2 years helping Sunderland to the Premier League, Lee Clarke was then dropped from the team, never to play again after being spotted with Newcastle fans wearing a T-Shirt with a derogatory slogan towards Sunderland. Lee Clarke then joined Fulham and returned to his boyhood club Newcastle in 2005.
Could Robin Van Persie be another name added to this illustrious list of players joining arch rivals in the Premier League, it’s happened before, could it happen again?
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