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5 most unexpected transfers in football history

Transfer season comes with its fair share of anxiety
Transfer season comes with its fair share of anxiety
Modified 21 Feb 2021
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Football’s transfer season is something that’s followed as religiously (read: fanatically) as its normal season by disciples of the beautiful game. Such is its influence that newspapers and TV channels (and now blogs/vlogs) dedicate whole sections to it.

Twitter goes into overdrive with various trends relating to it and fans spend sleepless nights trying to keep up with it. Meanwhile, individuals from all walks of life try to predict the moves made during this frenetic period.

However, football is a wonderfully unpredictable sport. And while you may be successful in creating the perfect Fantasy Football team (right after you FINALLY settle on a perfect name for it), defending your title of FIFA King, sitting through an entire late night (or should we say early morning) Champions League game without dozing off, or even resisting the urge to indulge in a bit of football banter on social media, there’s NO WAY you can successfully predict the outcome of the transfer season.

Especially in the modern era, with several smaller clubs gaining big ticket acquisitions, agents – who are the modern football Chief Executive’s nightmare – able to switch their client’s allegiances to the highest bidder in a heartbeat, administrative hurdles (and in a few cases a faulty fax machine :P) which cause transfers to go down to the wire or fail altogether, and sometimes a plain old change of heart that can prove enough to throw a spanner into the longest of transfer sagas.

All in all, it isn’t easy being a football fan during transfer season. The struggle, and heartache, is real. Then again, transfer season is something we can’t live without, especially if there are a few surprises involved. And boy, have there been many over the years! With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 5 most unexpected transfers in football history.

#5 Robinho to Manchester City

Robinho's move to Manchester City was an entertaining affair

Manchester City’s signing of Robinho holds the distinction of being the first under the Sheikh Mansour era, which heralded an age of unprecedented success that continues to this very day. However, the circumstances surrounding the Brazilian’s transfer weren’t as cut and dry.

After three promising seasons with Real Madrid – where he won two league titles – Robinho’s Los Blancos career was at a crossroads with the club repeatedly stalling on a new contract. Instead, they seemed to be angling towards using him as a makeweight to facilitate Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to the Bernabeu.

Soon, Chelsea entered the fray, marking the beginning of a protracted transfer saga. After it became clear that a move for Manchester United’s Ronaldo wouldn’t materialise in 2008, Madrid finally decided to negotiate with Robinho, who rejected their efforts in due to him heavily favouring a move to Chelsea.


Things went down to the wire despite Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon stating that the club were confident about the transfer happening. However, on September 1st 2008, the final day of the transfer window, Robinho made a shock move to newly-acquired Manchester City for a fee of £32.5 million.

The transfer surprised the world, including the player himself, who after his transfer was quoted as saying "On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted" before correcting himself after a reporter pointed out the gaffe. Despite his transfer saga, Robinho had a decent first season at City – and was their fourth highest scorer in the league with 14 goals in 31 appearances.

#4 Carlos Tevez to West Ham United

Tevez and Mascherano pose with West Ham manager Alan Pardew after their shock move to the Hammers
Tevez and Mascherano pose with West Ham manager Alan Pardew after their shock move to the Hammers

Argentine duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano both completed unexpected transfers to West Ham from Corinthians back in 2006, but the former gets a place on the list due to him being involved in more than one controversial transfer in his chequered career.

Tevez and Mascherano, who just ended a phenomenal season with Corinthians back in 2006, were on the radar of several top clubs but eventually made a shock move to the Hammers due to other clubs turning down opportunities to sign them due to their rights being owned by third parties.

Later, it emerged that West Ham breached Premier League rules over the signing of Tevez and Mascherano, and were forced to pay a massive fine of £5 million. However, Tevez turned out to be worth every penny and quickly became a fan favourite, with his final goal for the relegation-threatened Hammers, which he scored against his future club Manchester United, securing their stay in the Premier League.

Tevez departed West Ham as their Hammer of the Year and went on to have glittering stints at Manchester United, a club he left under controversial circumstances, and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

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Published 21 Feb 2021, 19:56 IST
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