Premier League's Most Controversial Transfers
The 2018 summer transfer window is well underway, with almost all the top sides in world football already strengthening their teams. The transfer window is often the cause of most of the controversy throughout football. Although there has been nothing that will set the Premier League world alight so far, it’s surely only a matter of time before it all kicks off. As we look forward to the huge talking point of summer 2018, Bet UK are looking back at some of the most controversial transfers in premier league history.
If you ask any English football fan about the most controversial transfer, most of them will say Sol Campbell. Before his move to Arsenal, Campbell was Spurs captain and had led them to victory in the League Cup in 1999. Campbell was one of the hottest properties in English football and seemingly had the world at his feet.
Campbell’s contract was due to run out in the summer of 2001, leaving him free to leave for another team, free of charge. Steve McManaman had previously left on a high profile ‘Bosman’ transfer to Real Madrid, so it was no secret that Campbell was free to leave Spurs if a contract couldn’t be agreed. Of course, Tottenham offered their star player a contract, one that would have made him the highest paid player in Tottenham history. Throughout negotiations, Sol Campbell made it clear to Tottenham fans that he didn’t want to leave the club and wanted to iron out a deal. But after a few months of back and forth with the Spurs board, Campbell announced his decision to leave.
At this point, Campbell could have went anywhere in the world, with top European clubs in every country vying for his signature. In the end, Campbell opted to move just a few miles away to north London rivals Arsenal. The deal came from absolute obscurity, with no links between the 2 before the move. In fact journalists who were present expected the announcement of singing goalkeeper Richard Wright. Ever since that move, Campbell has been hated by Spurs fans, often labelled Judas. At Arsenal, Campbell became a legend and played it part in the Invincible’s season, but he was never forgiven by the Tottenham faithful.
Ashley Cole was another player who moved between London clubs, although this time is wasn’t such a secret that Cole wanted to leave. Ashley Cole was another member of the Arsenal Invincibles, starting the majority of his teams games during the season. It was only when Cole started to engineer a move away from Arsenal that things started to turn sour.
Ahead of the summer transfer window of 2005, Cole met with then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, as well as some members of the Chelsea board. This all happened behind Arsenal’s back, which inevitably led to a fine for Cole. Chelsea and Mourinho were also both fined for their part in the deal. Ashley Cole did sign a one year contract extension, that took him through to July 2006. In 2006, Cole released an autobiography at the age of 25. Clearly not having enough experiences to fill an autobiography, Cole instead used the book as a chance to attack his employers.
This of course led to a wave of criticism from former and current teammates. Chelsea were still interested in Ashley Cole, with Arsenal more than willing to part ways with the left back. Chelsea initially bid £15m, but Arsenal were holding out for at least £25m for Cole, who was England’s first choice left back at the time. Negotiations appeared to hti a stalemate, until deadline day in 2006. A deal was agreed for £5m plus defender William Gallas who would head the other way. After the transfer was agreed, it was revealed that Cole was outraged at Arsenal’s contract offer of only £55,000 a week, and not the £90,000 that Chelsea had offered him. This led to Arsenal fans branding the left back ‘Cashley’ Cole, waving fake £20 notes in front of his face at every opportunity. Cole went on to win the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League at Chelsea, so he will surely think the turmoil was worth it.
Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez
Ashley Cole’s deadline day transfer turned out not to be the biggest news of deadline day in 2006. Alan Pardew’s West Ham finished mid table in the 2005/06 season, without really challenging the top 4 or threatening relegation. In essence, they were a very average team. So it came as a huge surprise when West Ham announced the double signing of Argentine internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Corinthians.
Both players were 22 at the time and were the future stars of Argentina. The pair had been linked to the top teams around Europe, with Mascherano publicly stating he wanted to join Real Madrid or Barcelona. Of course, there were many questions asked about the transfer, with the press questioning the legitimacy of the deal. It didn’t take long for the true details to transpire. It turned out that both players were owned by third parties, meaning that West Ham had paid a third party, rather than Corinthians. This broke Premier League rules, although it wasn’t until April that West Ham were finally fined 5.5m.
The real controversy comes on the final day of the 2006/07 season, with West Ham facing relegation to the Championship. Sheffield United were the only other team who could possibly go down, but West Ham were playing Manchester United away and needed a win. If they didn’t win, then Sheffield United would be staying up. As if by fate, Carlos Tevez scored the winner at Old Trafford to save West Ham from relegation. Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock was rightfully outraged, filing a complaint to the Premier League. The complaint was not successful in stopping Sheffield United’s relegation, but West Ham were ordered to pay £18m to the yorkshire side. In the coming years, Sheffield United fell to League 1 where as West Ham are now a comfortable premier league side. The £18m they paid turned out to be a pretty good bit of business.
Carlos Tevez (Part 2)
Carlos Tevez would be no stranger to controversial transfers, with another move in 2009 making headlines. After a season at West Ham, both Mascherano and Tevez left for bigger and better things. Both players headed to the north west, with Mascherano joining Liverpool on a permanent basis and Tevez signing a 2 year loan deal at Manchester United.
After just 3 months of his 2 year loan, Alex Ferguson made it clear that he wanted to sign Carlos Tevez. Tevez played a successful part in 2 Premier League winning campaigns, as well as scoring in the Champions League final penalty shootout. In his 2 years at Old Trafford, Tevez won 6 trophies, so it was no surprise when Tevez was offered a permanent deal. The most surprising part of the offer was that Tevez ultimately turned it down, telling his agent that he no longer wanted to play for Manchester United. Just 2 months after turning down United’s contract, Tevez agreed to sign for recently taken over Manchester City. After his signing, the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard was spotted in the city centre.
Tevez was the first player to move between the 2 clubs in 10 years, but this was different. Tevez was in the prime of his career and was moving to a club that was now realistically challenging Manchester United. Tevez went on to play over 100 times for Manchester City and was at one point the clubs captain. He took part in the historic title win in 2012 and became the first City player to score 50 Premier League goals for the club. Although his time at City was always filled with controversy, he still played a huge part in the clubs transformation from noisy neighbours to European powerhouses.