One cannot think of the most iconic football clubs in history without West Ham United popping into mind.
The Hammers, as they are fondly called, will eternally command a permanent niche for themselves in English football history due to their three extraordinary players – Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, all of whom led England to their finest hour in football – the 1966 World Cup on home soil.
The London club can also boast of nurturing some of England’s finest footballers including players such as Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, John Terry, Jermain Defoe, as well as numerous others through their legendary football academy, also known as ‘The Academy’.
The Astonishing Arrivals
However, every force experiences a disturbance once in a while and West Ham experienced theirs during the beginning of the decade, when they plunged into a steep decline.
Irregularity in performances, the sale of key players as well as the clubs inability to instill a lasting manager contributed to the downfall of one of football’s most well renowned teams.
The club themselves realized they were nosediving too, and in order to address that issue, recruited two South Americans from Brazilian outfit Corinthians, leading to one of the most confusing and eye opening transfers in football history.
(Third) Party Poopers
Then West Ham manager Alan Pardew, known for his keen eye in the transfer market, signed the two Argentines in the summer of 2006 in a move that was seen by many as a shock, as the duo were on the radar of several of Europe’s elite clubs prior to their move to Upton Park.
The club themselves knew they pulled off a coup and proudly stated on their website: “The transfers represent a massive coup for the Hammers, who have beaten off some of Europe’s biggest clubs to secure the services of the duo.”
The only twist in the tale was that Tevez and Mascherano weren’t just former Corinthians players; they also had their rights owned by a third party – Media Sports Investments. This development was soon discovered by the Premier League, after which pandemonium broke loose.
Third-party ownership of players was strictly forbidden by the Premier League and serious consequences are enforced if this rule was ever found to be breached.
Point deduction is one of the consequences of signing players with a third party ownership, although West Ham luckily didn’t receive this. They were instead fined a hefty £5.5 million, a world record, after pleading guilty to a tribunal in 2007.
The confirmation of West Ham escaping point deduction caused a stir among other relegation threatened teams, most notably Fulham and Sheffield United, with the latter eventually succumbing to relegation as a result. The rumour mills even churned stories about the two West Ham players just so that they could come under a larger spotlight and attract the attention of larger clubs.
The Argentines, both of whom had vastly contrasting seasons in London, left West Ham for greener pastures.
Mascherano, an excellent holding midfielder who arrived in London with a strong reputation, created a lot of hype amongst fans, but made just seven appearances in all competitions for the Hammers.
Once again rumour mills were spinning and speculated that Mascherano’s lack of game time, originally down to his lack of fitness according to former West Ham hero Dean Ashton, was actually due to a financial clause related to his game time.
However, Mascherano received an escape route in the form of Liverpool, who originally took him out on loan before handing him a permanent four-year deal in 2008, which brought his association with Media Sports Investments to an end.
Mascherano proved to be an astounding success at Liverpool, forming an excellent midfield partnership with fellow compatriot Xabi Alonso, before finally getting his dream move to Barcelona in 2010. The 30-year-old’s frustrating time at West Ham lasted just six months, in what is still considered to be one of West Ham’s least successful transfers.
Tevez, on the other hand, had an entirely different experience at West Ham United. The striker didn’t hit the ground running at first, but found form soon after and ended up scoring seven goals for the Hammers, including one against his future employers, Manchester United, on the final day of the season, which helped the Hammers avoid relegation and made Tevez a cult hero in the process.
Like Mascherano, Tevez too left West Ham after one season and signed up for Manchester United on a two-year loan deal.
However, West Ham fans still had great affection for him and made it known during their Premier League encounter against Reds in the following season, chanting “There’s only one Carlos Tevez”. This chant was fondly acknowledged by the player, who crossed his arms across the chest to create a gesture resembling a hammer.
West Ham only slightly benefitted from this escapade, but the same can’t be said for the two signings, who were handed moves to two of the biggest clubs in Europe in a little less than a year.
Even though it’s nearly a decade since the incident, it has managed to leave a lasting impression on the football world and will continue to dominate lists regarding the most shocking transfers for years to come.