Top 10 bizarre transfers in football history

“Downward spiral” must change says Ljungberg – but he refuses to give up on top four

Kevin-Prince Boateng’s transfer to Barcelona is one of the most shocking and baffling transfers of recent years. But, there are other transfers involving top European clubs that still leave their fans scratching their heads.

Bebe – Vitória de Guimarães to Manchester United

After the success story of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, Manchester United dipped their feet in the Portuguese league in 2010 to sign another forward.

The player in question, Bebe, was not like the other two players because Sir Alex Ferguson only met him on the day of his transfer but went ahead and signed him for £7.4m based on the recommendation of his former assistant manager, Carlos Queiroz.

Seven first-team appearances and three loan-spells later, Bebe was sold to Benfica where he played six times. He has been playing in the La Liga in recent years for Cordoba, Rayo Vallecano and Eibar.

Steven Caulker – QPR to Liverpool

The January 2016 transfer window was Liverpool’s first available transfer window under Jurgen Klopp and unsurprisingly, the Reds were linked with numerous stars. But instead, the only immediate addition he made to the first team was the loan signing of Steven Caulker from QPR!

Before the transfer, Caulker’s last appearance in a competitive game was against Liverpool for Southampton in a 6-1 defeat in December 2015. The former England international’s loan spell with Southampton was cut short in January before his shock move to Liverpool.

The centre-back played four times for the Reds, three of them as a substitute in an auxiliary striker role and his only start came in a FA Cup defeat to West Ham.

Nicklas Bendtner – Arsenal to Juventus

In 2011/12, Juventus won the Serie A title without tasting defeat and it was their first title since returning to the Italian top-flight following the Calciopoli. However, they only scored 68 goals that season and it was only logical that they add more firepower to their squad. So, the only logical solution was signing Nicklas Bendtner.

Bentnder spent the 11/12 season on loan at Sunderland and scored only eight times in 30 games. At Juventus, he only got his second start on 12 December 2012 and suffered a thigh injury that ruled him out for two to three months.

With Bendtner out, Juve made another strange signing in Nicolas Anelka who was struggling in China. 

The Dane, while he was still out injured, was arrested for drink driving and returned to first-team action only in the final match of the league season with the title already sealed. He came on as a sub, broke his wrist and thus ended a baffling loan stint with zero goals.

Interestingly, the club did not sell a single shirt with the former Arsenal man’s name on its back.

Papy Djilobodji – Nantes to Chelsea

Towards the end of the 2015 summer transfer window, Chelsea signed Papy Djilobodji as the club’s fifth choice centre-back from Nantes for £4m.

However, his fate at Chelsea was clear only ten days after his arrival when Jose Mourinho omitted him from Chelsea’s Champions League squad and said – “We’d be very unlucky if we need Djilobodji when we have John Terry, Gary Cahill, [Kurt] Zouma and Branislav Ivanovic.”

After playing only 62 seconds as a Chelsea player, Djilobodji joined Werder Bremen on loan for the second half of the 15/16 season before Chelsea sold him for £8m to Sunderland in the next summer.

The Senegalese international was part of the Black Cats squad that was relegated to the Championship in 16/17 and then he spent the 17/18 season on loan at Dijon in the Ligue 1.

Djilobodji went awol ahead of the ongoing season and when he returned to Sunderland for training, he failed the fitness test comprehensively which resulted in the termination of his contract.

Julien Faubert – West Ham to Real Madrid

Julien Faubert played 32 games for West Ham without scoring in a season and a half between 2007 and 2009 before making a shock loan move to Real Madrid on transfer deadline day in January with the La Liga club also having the option to sign him permanently.

Former Arsenal star, Paul Merson, said: “His agent should be knighted by the Queen” after Faubert completed a move to Spain.

The Frenchman played twice for Real Madrid but the highlight of his Real Madrid stint was appearing to fall asleep on the bench during a match against Villarreal. The player later refuted this and said he didn’t fall asleep but he closed his eyes because he was bored.

Owen Hargreaves – Manchester United to Manchester City

What do you do when an injury prone player who has played four games in the last three seasons is available on a free transfer? You stay away from him and don’t touch him with a ten-foot pole unless you’re Manchester City.

Owen Hargreaves was released by Manchester United at the end of the 2010/11 season due to his terrible injury history. In fact, according to Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, Hargreaves was one of his most disappointing transfers.

Manchester City needed another midfielder going into the 2011/12 season and the club’s doctors were impressed by Hargreaves physical and mental condition. They were clearly wrong.

Hargreaves was left out of City’s Champions League squad, played one league game for City that season and was thus not eligible for a winner’s medal. He retired at the end of the season aged 31.

Kevin Keegan – Hamburg to Southampton

Imagine how social media would react if Luka Modric, the present Ballon d’Or winner, completed a move to say West Ham or Crystal Palace? That’s how shocking Kevin Keegan’s move to Southampton in 1980 was.

Keegan won the Ballon d’Or in 1978 and 1979 while at Hamburg and won the Bundesliga title in 1979. In 1980, he led the club to the final of the European Cup which they lost to Nottingham Forest.

Keegan captained England at the 1980 European Championship and then surprised everyone by joining Southampton – a club that was still establishing itself in the English top flight.

Liverpool had a buy-back clause for Keegan in his contract with Hamburg but they decided that Keegan was not necessary. As a result, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner played 80 times for the Saints and scored 42 times while also being named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1982. 

Kim Källström – Spartak Moscow to Arsenal

In January 2014, when Arsenal fans were crying out for a new signing to sustain their title challenge, Arsene Wenger signed 32-year-old Kim Kallstrom on loan from Spartak Moscow.

The Swede was injured when he joined the club and only appeared four times for the Gunners in all competitions. He came on as an extra time substitute for Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal against defending champions Wigan Athletic and scored his penalty in the shootout. Interestingly, he called it “the greatest 15 minutes of his life”

Kallstrom left Arsenal at the end of his loan spell without a goal but had a FA Cup winners’ medal to show for it. He has asserted that he enjoyed his time at Arsenal.

Dmytro Chygrynskiy – Shakhtar Donetsk to Barcelona

In 2009, after winning the treble with Barcelona, Pep Guardiola decided to sign another centre-back despite having Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Raphael Marquez, Gabriel Milito and even Eric Abidal to use as centre-backs.

So, he went and signed Shakhtar Donetsk’s Dmytro Chygrynskiy for around €25 million! However, he only played 14 times and was sold back to Shakhtar a year later for €15 million.

According to comments from Thierry Henry, Guardiola was not impressed by the Ukranian because he didn’t respect the pattern. The Spaniard once started Chygrynskiy with a specific set of instructions to follow but Chygrynskiy twice played the ball long for Zlatan and the Swede nearly went 1-on-1 with the keeper.

Lassana Diarra – Al Jazira to PSG

If there is an award for the weirdest career trail in football then Lassana Diarra would probably win it.

He started out at Le Havre in France before playing for Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth in the Premier League in that same order before moving to Real Madrid of all clubs. After Real Madrid, he played in Russia for Anzhi Makhachkala and Lokomotiv Moscow before returning to France to play for Marseille.

In 2017, he joined Emirati club Al Jazira and common sense dictate that Diarra’s time in Europe at least with top clubs was over. Well, a few months after he joined Al Jazira, his contract was terminated with mutual consent and he joined PSG a month later!

Diarra is still at PSG and into the final few months of his contract. He has played four games this season and is probably at the club only to make up the numbers.