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5 players who went on strike to force a transfer

Scott Newman
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
7.32K   //    07 Feb 2018, 20:15 IST

Leicester City v Watford - Premier League
Riyad Mahrez is currently on strike at Leicester City, but he's not the first...

Despite missing out on a deadline day move to Manchester City, it doesn’t seem like Riyad Mahrez is going to settle back into life as a Leicester City player anytime soon. The Algerian star put in a transfer request only for the Foxes to demand over £90m for his services, a figure that City apparently baulked at.

And so Mahrez has now missed training four times and according to reports, is refusing to return to Leicester and looks set to miss their weekend FA Cup clash with Sheffield United - despite really having no ground to do so having only signed a new deal with Leicester in the summer of 2016.

Mahrez isn’t the first player to go on strike to attempt to force a move to another club, though – ever since player power became a bigger issue in the mid-1990’s with the advent of the Bosman ruling, we’ve seen issues like Mahrez’s become more commonplace in the game. Here are five classic examples.


#1 Pierre van Hooijdonk at Nottingham Forest, 1998

Pierre Van Hooijdonk of Nottingham Forest
Pierre van Hooijdonk infamously went on strike at Nottingham Forest

The original and possibly the best “striker” on this list, Dutchman van Hooijdonk rose to fame in the mid-90’s by banging goals in for Celtic. A move to Nottingham Forest in early 1997 couldn’t save them from relegation from the Premier League, but in 1997/98 van Hooijdonk starred in Forest’s title-winning Division 1 season, earning the club promotion.

Due to his form – and performances in the 1998 World Cup – clubs were sniffing around the Dutchman, but Forest promised to match the player’s ambitions by signing new talent and van Hooijdonk decided to stay.

Unfortunately, the signings never happened and when Forest refused to transfer list him to allow a proposed move to Newcastle United or PSV Eindhoven, van Hooijdonk took off back to Holland and refused to come back.

Cooler heads finally prevailed almost three months into the season, and van Hooijdonk returned to Forest when he realised they wouldn’t budge and refused all offers for him.

He ended up making 21 appearances in 1998/99 for Forest but never fit back in – his teammates even refused to celebrate a goal with him – and with the side relegated at the end of the season, he was finally sold to Vitesse Arnhem. He has since expressed regret at his behaviour, stating that “the situation could’ve been handled differently”.

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Scott Newman
ANALYST
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