The rise in football of Russian and Chinese clubs in particular has given rise to some of the more peculiar transfer stories in recent years.
Samuel Eto’o’s move to Anzhi Makhachkala raised eyebrows last summer when he opted to swap playing in Milan for a move to Russia, although the reported 350,000-per-week probably had something to do with that.
Nicolas Anelka completed a switch to China in January with former Chelsea team-mate Didier Drogba set to join him in the summer if reports are to be believed, but where are the former club legends who have popped up in places where most didn’t even know professional football was played? GMF investigates.
Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro was pretty much the luckiest footballer on the planet. Having guided his country to glory in the 2006 tournament, Cannavaro was named player of the tournament for his assured performances in defence, most notably in the final where he helped subdue a talented France team including Zinedine Zidane.
Where is he now? Having left Real Madrid and returning to Italy to play for Juventus, Cannavaro, the only defender in the history of the game to win the World player of the year award, is now plying his trade with Silguri, a Western Bengalese side, after playing just 16 games for Al-Ahliin Dubai.
Ballon D’or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999, Rivaldo was the archetypal skillful Brazilian who has won silverware pretty much everywhere he has played.
The peak of his career came during his spell with Barcelona where he was virtually untouchable, while a World Cup winners medal with Brazil in 2002 and a Champions League success with Milan in 2003 demonstrates partly the ability he once possessed.
Where is he now? Plying his trade in the hotbed of quality football, Angola. His fall from grace came via spells with Olympiakos, AEK Athens and Uzbekistan side FC Bunyodkor before he settled down in Angola with Kabuscorp.
A hero with Liverpool, Robbie Fowler was the ultimate goalscorer on Merseyside, with the Toxteth lad claiming 120 goals during his hugely successful eight years with the Reds.
While regular England appearances didn’t come hand in hand with his Liverpool success, Fowler will always be remembered fondly by his boyhood club as one of their best ever goalscorers.
Where is he now? Fowler became the latest big name to have emerged after a spell in the wilderness by signing for a lower league club, with the former Liverpool man close to signing on the dotted line for Blackpool after years squirrelling around the underbelly of Australian and Thai football, and signing up to play in the ill-fated Premier League Soccer tournament in India.
Desailly, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, had a quite an impressive CV until 2004. As one of the most decorated and respected defenders of all time, he had won medals with Chelsea, Marseille and A.C Milan, winning the Champions League with the latter two clubs.
Where is he now? Retired and working as a TV pundit, Desially made the choice to move to Qatar outfit Al Gharafa as his destination of choice after his time at Stamford Bridge came to an end in 2004. He played 28 games for them before upping sticks for Qatar SC, before retiring in 2006
One of the original big names to tread along a not-so beaten track, Gary Lineker, England’s joint leading top scorer, enjoyed successful spells with Barcelona, Tottenham and Everton and was still at the top of his game back in 1992 when he opted for a strange career move.
He finished the 1991/92 season just one goal behind golden boot winner Ian Wright, just before his ill-fated move to Japan.
Where is he now? A TV presenter on Match of the Day, Lineker’s time with Nagoya Grampus Eight proved that everything the striker touched did not turn to gold.
He played just 23 games for the club over two seasons before retiring in 1994.