Over the years the footballing world has seen its fair share of transfers, from Neymar’s world record breaking move to Paris Saint Germain in 2017 to Eric Cantona’s switch from Leeds United to Manchester United back in 1992.
There is nothing fans love more than a good transfer story. The transfer rumour mill never stops no matter what month it is and today we take a look at some of the most shocking transfers that stunned the footballing world.
Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid
Having flourished at Barcelona, Luis Figo was very much a wanted man in the summer of 2000 but when news came of him joining Real Madrid it was a move that nobody could have foreseen. It’s no secret that Real Madrid and Barcelona aren’t the friendliest of rivals and swapping the Nou Camp for the Bernabeu was always going to be controversial.
Signed for a then record breaking fee of £37 million, Figo was one of the best players on the planet at the time and for Real Madrid to snatch him away from Barcelona was some coup. When the Portuguese playmaker faced his old side Barcelona at the Nou Camp a few months later, the Catalonian faithful let him know exactly how they felt as the infamous pig’s head was thrown towards him.
Despite the controversy, Figo went on to enjoy a fabulous career at Real Madrid, winning all there was to win in the game. The most notable highlight came in 2002 when he helped Real Madrid to win the European Cup in Glasgow. He was a fabulous player for Real Madrid and one that will undoubtedly go down as a legend.
Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United
When Sir Alex Ferguson signed Eric Cantona from Leeds United in 1992 for just £1.2 million pounds few, if any, could have foreseen the Frenchman having such a phenomenal impact at Old Trafford. In a career that spanned five years at the Theatre of Dreams, Cantona quickly became one of Fergie’s shrewdest pick ups and played an integral part in United’s success in the 1990s.
At the time Leeds were one of the best teams in the land and had a fierce rivalry with Manchester United so when news broke that Fergie had signed up Cantona, it made the football world sit up and take note.
Cantona’s influence on United wasn’t only the goals and assists; his sheer presence on the pitch was enough to inspire Manchester United and without him the Red Devils were simply not the same side. This shown was in the 1994/95 season when, after his kung fu kick incident at Crystal Palace, the Frenchman missed the second half of the season and in his absence, United missed out on the league title to Blackburn Rovers. It showed just how pivotal he was to the club’s success.
He finally returned to the side in October 1995 against Liverpool and his presence allowed United to get right back on track. Cantona’s heroics at Old Trafford are legendary and he will go down as arguably Fergies greatest ever signing.
Alan Shearer – Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United
There have been few, if any, better goalscorers than Alan Shearer. Having flourished at Blackburn Rovers, Shearer was one of the most sought after players in the world in 1996 so when news broke that Newcastle United had smashed the then world record fee of £16 million to recruit, it was big news.
What made the move even more outstanding was Shearer’s choice. Having been heavily linked to Manchester United it was widely expected that Shearer would be moving to Old Trafford but instead he opted to join his beloved Newcastle United.
Some say Shearer made the wrong move and should have signed for Manchester United but I disagree; he followed his heart and in doing so became the club’s all time leading ever goal scorer.
Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano – Corinthians to West Ham United
This was a transfer story that saw nobody coming in 2006. On the final day of the summer transfer window it was announced that West Ham United would be signing Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from the Corinthians.
The deal itself raised eyebrows as West Ham signed the Argentine duo under the ownership of Kia Joorabchian in a type of deal had never happened before in the Premier League. It looked like a Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses type of deal!
To this day, nobody can say for sure whether Tevez and Mascherano were legally West Ham players but one thing is certain – without Carlos Tevez, West Ham would not have stayed up that season. Mascherano may not have settled but Tevez certainly did as the second half of the season wore on and he became an integral part of the side that avoided relegation from the top flight.
David Beckham – Real Madrid to LA Galaxy
There can be little doubt that Major League Soccer would not be what it is today without David Beckham. He was the one that kick started MLS and really got it on the map when it was announced in January 2007 that David Beckham would be joining LA Galaxy.
Beckham moved to Los Angeles at a time when MLS was struggling to make any impact in America but Beckham changed that. The Englishman not only opened MLS up to a new audience domestically, he also put the MLS on a world stage too and even at 31 years of age the Galaxy still managed to get the very best out of him.
Beckham’s arrival in 2007 also encouraged more stars like Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney to follow suit and without this massive transfer, those moves would not have been possible.