Monday 22 January 2018

The 10 most toxic transfers in Premier League history features Raheem Sterling move

New Manchester City signing Raheem Sterling poses with a club scarf as he leaves the club's Etihad Stadium in Manchester
New Manchester City signing Raheem Sterling poses with a club scarf as he leaves the club's Etihad Stadium in Manchester

Raheem Sterling's switch to Manchester City caused anger at Liverpool - but it is not the most toxic move in the Premier League era...

1. Xisco

Deportivo to Newcastle, 2008

The transfer that led to Kevin Keegan's (second) departure from at St James' Park. Both Xisco and Ignacio Gonzalez were signed without Keegan's approval - Gonzalez had only been watched by the club on video - and the manager subsequently claimed the players had been signed to "do a favour" for two South American agents. Keegan duly won a case for constructive dismissal, while Xisco made nine appearances over five years.
Xisco's frustrating stint at Newcastle has come to an end

2. Robbie Savage

Birmingham to Blackburn, 2005

One of the most divisive figures in the Premier League era caused one of his biggest controversies in 2005, as he attempted to engineer a move from Birmingham to Blackburn. Having failed to convince with his initial justification for pursuing a move - he insisted he needed to be nearer his family back in Wrexham, but Birmingham is two miles closer to his home town than Blackburn - he was sent to train with the kids and then, when he was played in the first team, admitted to not trying in a game against Newcastle in Jan 2005. "I was thinking that I’ve got to do something different to get away as I’d put a transfer request in, but nothing was happening - I thought if I went on the pitch and performed badly, Birmingham would think they’d lose me," he recalled later.
Robbie Savage and Scott Parker tussle for possession at Ewood Park yesterday during West Ham's victory over Blackburn

3. Pierre van Hooijdonk

Nottingham Forest to Vitesse Arnhem, 1999

The Dutchman had been a hero at Nottingham Forest, helping the club win promotion, but when his strike partner Kevin Campbell was sold on the eve of the 1998/99 season, he went on strike. Van Hooijdonk was pilloried for his behaviour but Forest refused to sell him. He appeared sporadically in the second half of the season - when he scored an equaliser against local rivals Derby, teammates instead celebrated with Scott Gemmill, whose cross had set up the goal - and was eventually sold to Vitesse Arnhem.


4. William Gallas

Chelsea to Arsenal, 2006

A rare defeat for Jose Mourinho in a battle of wills. When Gallas issued a transfer request designed to smoothe a move to Arsenal was rejected by Chelsea, the club issued a statement claiming the defender had threatened to score own goals if he was played. Gallas denied the claims, describing Chelsea as "very very petty" and that Roman Abramovich's regime "lacks class". He eventually got his move after Arsenal agreed to sell Ashley Cole to Stamford Bridge (more of which later...).
William Gallas missed Monday's deadline to commit his future to the club. Photo: Getty Images

5. Gabriel Heinze

Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2007

It wasn't Heinze's move to Real which prompted such irritation at Manchester United, but what preceded it. Angered by losing his place to Patrice Evra, Heinze tried to force through a transfer to Liverpool, the club's bitterest rivals and a move which was predictably met by furious resistance from Sir Alex Ferguson. The dispute eventually went to a Premier League tribunal, with Heinze being represented by Liverpool's club solicitor, Hill Dickinson. The tribunal found in United's favour, and Heinze eventually moved to Real.
Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze is demanding the club allows him to move to bitter rivals Liverpool

6. Raheem Sterling

Liverpool to Manchester City, 2015

Sterling has made himself a poster boy for petulance with his handling of his departure from Liverpool: through his agent, Sterling has aimed barbs at Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool's supposed lack of ambition and their chances of winning trophies, all the while insisting that his move to Eastlands is not about the money. A £200,000-a-week contract certainly helped though, and while Liverpool bear no ill feelings towards City, his first return to Anfield in March should be an occasion worth watching...

Raheem Sterling.jpg
New Manchester City signing Raheem Sterling signs autographs for supporters as he leaves the club's Etihad Stadium in Manchester

7. John Obi Mikel

Lyn to Chelsea, 2006

John Obi Mikel's future seemed so clear: in 2005, it was announced that the Nigerian would swap Lyn for Manchester United the following summer, a glorious chance for an unknown player to shine on one of football's grandest stages. Then, when the time came, Mikel went missing for nine days and it was duly announced that Mikel was joining Chelsea. Rumours of a kidnapping began to circulate and United could barely contain their fury. Eventually, Chelsea were forced to pay United £12m and Lyn £4m.

Remy Cabella gets a shot away under pressure from Mikel John Obi. Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

8. Ashley Cole

Arsenal to Chelsea, 2006

Cole invited public ridicule by admitting in his autobiography that he had almost crashed his car after being told of Arsenal's new contract offer of a mere £55,000 a week. That would have made it toxic enough, but the fact that Cole and his agent, Jonathan Barnett, were caught meeting up with Jose Mourinho and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon in a London hotel before the deal, earning them large fines.

'Perhaps it was a coincidence that Cole was playing for Arsenal the last time they won a trophy.' Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

9. Carlos Tevez

Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009

Carlos Tevez's exit from Manchester United was already nasty enough - the player was angry at United's contract offer, and a lack of regular starts under Sir Alex Ferguson - but it turned truly poisonous when he chose to join City over Real Madrid. To celebrate a rare victory over their neighbours, City erected a giant poster in the city centre proclaiming Tevez's arrival at a 'real' Manchester club, prompting Ferguson's infamous 'noisy neighbours' jibe.

app soccer transfer.jpg
GOAL: Carlos Tevez celebrates after scoring for Manchester City last year. The Premier League banned third-party financing in 2008 after it emerged that West Ham ceded total control of strike Tevez to investors

10. Sol Campbell

Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001

Having come through the ranks at Tottenham, the club's captain and totemic defender ran down his contract, refused a new deal that would have made him the club's highest-ever paid player, turned down a host of offers from Europe's elite teams, and promptly signed for Arsenal on a free transfer. Spurs fans hung him in effigy on the Tottenham High Road and every time he confronted his old employers, the stands were full of cards bearing the legend 'Judas'. Campbel had the last laugh, though, winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.

Sol Campbell incensed Spurs fans in 2001 with his move to Arsenal

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