Tim Cahill may not be one of the biggest names in world football, but his move to the New York Red Bulls from Everton has certainly caught many by surprise.
Whilst Major League Soccer continues to grow in America, it isn’t seen as a place for the world’s top footballing talent at this stage, despite the likes of David Beckham and Thierry Henry plying their trade Stateside.
Of course, Beckham’s move to Los Angeles was one of the biggest shocks in football history, leaving Spanish champions Real Madrid for a new life at The Home Depot Centre. It isn’t just moves to the USA that have cause shock around the football world though, with the likes of Ronaldo, Figo and Kaka all stirring things up with their own transfers over the last decade.
With all that in mind, GiveMeFootball decided to remember some of the biggest transfer shocks in history, from world record fees to a free transfer down the road. See if you agree with our 10 selections, and have you say at the end of the article…
David Beckham – Real Madrid to LA Galaxy (Free Transfer)
The England midfielder left Manchester United after falling out with manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2003, and helped Real Madrid to the Spanish title during his final year at the club in 2007.
But, after four years at the Santiago Bernabeu, world football’s most famous face decided it was time to live the American dream, joining the LA Galaxy in a free transfer at the conclusion of his Madrid contract. Still playing in the MLS, his time in the States is generally judged to be a success.
Didier Drogba – Chelsea to Shanghai Shenhua (Free Transfer)
The Ivorian international moved to Stamford Bridge in 2004, and enjoyed eight years of success at Chelsea before running his contract down earlier this summer.
After helping the Blues to their first Champions League trophy, Drogba turned his back on Europe’s biggest clubs however, and opted for the Chinese Super League and a place at Shanghai Shenhua alongside Nicolas Anelka.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid (£80million)
The Portuguese winger completed the biggest move in football history in 2009, leaving the Red Devils after six years of unprecedented success at Old Trafford.
After failing to secure a move in the summer of ’08, manager Sir Alex Ferguson is reported to have told the 95-cap international to give him one more season at United, before brokering the mega-move to the Bernabeu.
Andy Carroll – Newcastle United to Liverpool (£35million)
Alan Shearer told GiveMeFootball he’d be ‘amazed’ if Andy Carroll left Newcastle back in January 2011, after a season-and-a-half of top quality football for the Toon in the Championship and then Premier League.
However, the Reds bid a staggering £35 million for the England hitman, and Newcastle felt it impossible to reject such a figure from Anfield chief Kenny Dalglish.
Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid (£44million)
Undoubtedly recognised as the most controversial move in Spanish football history, Figo committed the cardinal sin of leaving Barcelona for Real Madrid in the summer of 2000.
Los Blancos paid £44 million for the Portuguese star, who had a pigs head thrown at him on return to the Nou Camp, with fans of the Catalan giants feeling betrayed by one of their idols.
Sol Campbell – Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal (Free Transfer)
If Figo to Madrid was big in Spain, the decision of Campbell to join the Gunners from Spurs at the end of his contract was hugely controversial in north London.
The move proved a success when it comes to silverware, with two Premier League and three FA Cup winners’ medals in the cabinet. However, his nickname at White Hart Lane remains ‘Judas’.
Carlos Tevez – Manchester United to Manchester City (Free Transfer)
The Argentine international had already completed a controversial move to West Ham United before switching to Old Trafford, where he enjoyed a successful two seasons.
However, when his contract expired, a new deal could not be agreed, and the 28-year-old moved across Manchester to big-spending City. Despite a recent spat with manager Roberto Mancini, the move seems to have paid dividends with another title to his name.
Trevor Francis – Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest (£1million)
When Brian Clough decided to spend £1 million on striker Francis, the legendary manager could not have guessed what kind of figures would follow in the decades to come.
Francis was the first seven-figure player in England, spent two seasons at the City Ground and heading the winning goal in a European Cup final. Good business.
Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea (£50million)
Out-of-form and out-of-favour at Liverpool, the Spanish striker handed in a transfer request at Anfield amidst rumours that Roman Abramovich was willing to splash some cash on the former Atletico Madrid star.
Few would have guessed that £50 million would change hands for the 28-year-old though, and his lack of form after completing the move suggests it wasn’t money well spent. Time will tell under Roberto Di Matteo.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – AC Milan to PSG (£31million)
For a man whose moved for more money than any other player in history, Ibrahimovic’s switch from Italy to France should not have come as a surprise.
However, the Swede left one of football’s great clubs for a Ligue 1 side with huge financial backing, and more top players could follow in seasons to come.
And the one that got away…
Kaka – AC Milan to Manchester City (£100million)
Garry Cook famously said that Milan ‘bottled it’ over a move from the San Siro to the Etihad Stadium, with the Citizens willing to break the world transfer record in their pursuit of the Brazilian superstar.
Kaka wasn’t sure of the move himself however, and ended up in Madrid for a pretty large €68.5m fee.