Wednesday 23 August 2017

Five of the most bizarre football transfers

England captain Kevin keegan in action on his Southampton home debut following his move from SV Hamburg, against Manchester City at The Dell on August 16, 1980 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Duncan Raban/Allsport/Getty Images)
England captain Kevin keegan in action on his Southampton home debut following his move from SV Hamburg, against Manchester City at The Dell on August 16, 1980 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Duncan Raban/Allsport/Getty Images)

The transfer window turns football into a 365 day sport with the summer months allowing clubs to scour the market for new signings and offload any players that they might be trying to get off their books.

Most of the major signings, as we've seen with the recent transfers of Mohamed Salah to Liverpool and Alexandre Lacazette to Arsenal, are heavily monitored in the days and weeks prior to their moves.

However, there's always a few that surprise even the keenest observers, and sometimes the player themselves as can be seen with our first transfer.

1. Robinho to Manchester City

Former Real Madrid president Ramón Calderón looked to use Robinho as bait to lure Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu in 2008, however, after the move broke down the Brazilian forward decided to look for a way out of the Spanish capital after talks to renegotiate a new contract with the club broke down on several occassions.

The crafty forward initially requested a move to Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea, before eventually settling for a move to the city of Manchester, not necessarily Manchester City.

"I remember that there was big expectation," Robinho told City TV of his move to the club.

"I knew I was going to play in England but I didn't know for which team, and I was very happy when I found that I had the opportunity to play for Manchester City.

"It was on the very last minute but with me it has always been like that.

"It was really important, a team that opened doors for me. It was a big transfer. At that time City didn't have many big players in their team but it is a club that have a lot of love and respect."

2. Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United

After scoring 23 goals in consecutive seasons with Tottenham, Dimitar Berbatov was one of the most sought after strikers in Europe and was chased heavily by both Manchester City and Manchester United.

Berbatov headed to Manchester Airport after Spurs had agreed a £34m fee with Manchester City for the player's transfer, with the club declining to let United speak to the player at that point.

However, instead of being greeted by officials from City, Berbatov was instead greeted by United manager Alex Ferguson.

Despite threats of reporting United to the Premier League over their conduct, Spurs eventually caved in and agreed a deal with the club for £30.75 million.

Berbatov said of the transfer: "I am flattered that he (Ferguson) gave me so much of his time. He personally came to pick me up at the airport. It was a shock to me, but it was a pleasure to get to know him."

3. Kevin Keegan to Southampton

After winning consecutive Ballon d'Or awards in 1978 and 1979, Kevin Keegan left European finalists Hamburg to join Southampton.

Saints manager Lawrie McMenemy had called a press conference at the Potters Heron Hotel where he had told attending media that they would be able to meet someone 'who was going to play a big part in Southampton's future'.

The gathered media were preparing for McMenemy and the club to unveil plans to move away from their traditional stadium The Dell, so it came as a surprise to everyone in attendance when Keegan walked into the hotel.

The former England international recalls the move in his autobiography: "Even when I arrived at Southampton Airport nobody twigged. It was just assumed I was flying in to do a commercial for Faberge or one of the other companies I worked for. My dramatic appearance at the press conference was greeted with total astonishment."

4. Robbie Keane to Inter Milan

01 Oct 2000: Robbie Keane of Inter Milan gets away from Marco Antonio Caniera of Reggina during the Serie A league match between Reggina and Inter Milan played at the Oreste Granillo Stadium in Reggina, Italy. GUERRA / GRAZIA NERI Mandatory Credit:Grazia Neri/ALLSPORT
01 Oct 2000: Robbie Keane of Inter Milan gets away from Marco Antonio Caniera of Reggina during the Serie A league match between Reggina and Inter Milan played at the Oreste Granillo Stadium in Reggina, Italy. GUERRA / GRAZIA NERI Mandatory Credit:Grazia Neri/ALLSPORT

The Ireland international had become the most expensive teenager in English football when he joined Coventry City from Wolves for £6m in August 1999, and just a year later he was sold for over twice that price when Inter Milan agreed a deal to bring Keane to the San Siro for £13m.

The Dubliner would join some of Europe's most talented forwards at Inter playing alongside Ronaldo, Christian Vieri and Alvaro Recoba, with Keane notching four goals in 13 appearances for the Italian giants.

Inter manager Marcello Lippi had won three Serie A titles with the club before Keane's arrival and was a big fan of the striker from what he saw in his lone season at Coventry.

“At that time at Inter, they had a policy of going for young players and Robbie Keane was the best one that I saw," Lippi said later.

“He had good technique and he was a good striker."

Lippi was sacked by Inter in December 2000 and was subsequently replaced by Marco Tardell, who deemed the forward surplus to requirements, with Keane later securing a £12 million move to Leeds United in May 2001 after impressing on his loan move to the club prior to making a permanent move.

5. Matt Smith to Fulham

Smith's career may not be as decorated as the other players on this list, but his 2014 move from Leeds United to Fulham was definitely a bizarre move by Leeds, and in particular, their social media team.

The striker had just signed a three-year deal with Leeds less than a fortnight before the transfer deadline.

He was the club's top scorer to start the 2014/15 campaign and with less than 10 minutes to go before the transfer market shut on September 1, Leeds official Twitter account sent out a tweet warning their supporters not to go asleep as work had to be done.

"Don't to go to bed just yet... there is still work to be done," Leeds tweeted.

Before following that tweet up with: "CONFIRMED: Matt Smith completes move to Fulham for an undisclosed fee and signs a 3-year deal with the London club #lufc #DeadlineDay."

Leeds fans were left furious as the striker was followed out the door by fellow forward Dom Poleon who moved to Oldham Athletic.

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