“Silly Season” is firmly underway, and it’s gathering a full head of steam. The focus of this offseason? Gareth Bale and his impending (or maybe not) transfer to Real Madrid.
Bale had a brilliant year last season, blasting 21 goals in the Premier League along and helping Tottenham to finish 5th in the Premier League. On the back of this season, the Welshman became only the second player since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007 to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and the Football Writers Association Player of the Year.
His dominant season prompted much transfer speculation – the latest of which is that Real Madrid have made a bid of £85 million, £5 million more than they paid for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The back and forth between Tottenham and Real Madrid is nothing new to football fans during the offseason, so below are a few of the most memorable transfer sagas in Premier League history:
1) Patrick Vieira – Arsenal to Real Madrid, Juventus.
Every year from 2001-02 until 2004-05 Patrick Vieira was linked with Real Madrid. Every year was “the” year that Vieira would move, and yet every year Vieira stayed at Arsenal winning two Premier League titles and three FA Cups. Arsenal even accepted a bid of around £23m for Vieira in 2004 from Real Madrid but the transfer never went through. Vieira eventually moved to Juventus for €20m (about £13.7m at the time) in the summer of 2005, seeking a “new challenge” after nine years at the North London based outfit.
2) Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s sparkling performances at Old Trafford were bound to garner some interest from another European powerhouse, and that came in the form of Real Madrid. Manchester United threw their toys out of the pram and formally complained to FIFA about comments Real Madrid made that they claimed were “aimed at tempting the player to breach his contract.” Unsurprisingly FIFA found no wrongdoing. Ronaldo committed at least one more year to United in the summer of 2008 before becoming the World’s most expensive player in June 2009 when he finally completed the move to the Bernabeau for £80 million
Those are the sorts of transfer sagas we’re used to. One club says something about a player; the other club refutes that etc. The rumours go on and on until the player either moves, or does not.
However in 2005 one of the most elaborate transfer sagas of all time was about to commence.
Enter Mikel John Obi.
3) Mikel John Obi – Lyn Oslo to Manchester United, Chelsea.
When Mikel turned 18 Manchester United declared they had struck a deal with Lyn Oslo to bring the highly rated youngster to England. They even put it on their website, the deal was done. Not so fast, said Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. Mou and the Blues claimed they had also struck a deal with the Norwegian team and were arranging his move to Europe and subsequently to Chelsea at a later date. This claim was strengthened when it was revealed Mikel impressed Mourinho while training with Chelsea in the offseason of 2004.
Nonetheless, Mikel was introduced as a Manchester United player at a press conference, held up a Manchester United shirt with the number 21 on it and declared he was happy to be a Manchester United player.
All over, right? Wrong.
Mikel received threatening phone calls when he got home to Norway and even went missing during a Norwegian Cup game he was watching from the stands. Morgan Andersen (Lyn Oslo’s director) claimed he had been kidnapped with then Manchester United assistant manager agreeing, saying Chelsea must have had something to do with it! Of course Mikel had not been kidnapped – he’d just left the stadium.
Mikel flew to London with his agents and stated on Sky Sports News that he was pressured into signing the contract with Manchester United without his agents present and the club he really wanted to play for was Chelsea. United filed a complaint against Chelsea and Mikel’s agents with FIFA for these comments, citing Chelsea and Mikel’s agents behaviour as the base of their claim. FIFA dismissed the complaint, as there was no evidence against Chelsea, or Mikel’s agents to support such claims.
After Mikel failed to return to Lyn Oslo they filed a complain with FIFA and subsequently FIFA ruled that Mikel should return to Lyn Oslo to see out the remainder of his contract and they would figure out if his contract with Manchester United was binding at a later date.
Rather than let FIFA determine the validity of the contract Mikel signed with Manchester United, Chelsea volunteered to intervene and settle the matter by negotiating with Manchester United and Lyn Oslo.
In June of 2006 after a constant saga that lasted over a year, Chelsea agreed to pay Manchester United £12 million for Mikel’s services and Lyn Oslo £4m. Mikel has been at Chelsea ever since.
Side Note: After the transfer saga was “over” Lyn Oslo’s director Morgan Andersen was convicted of fraud and making false accusations. Andersen had a propensity for this and had been convicted once before for similar things. Chelsea took Lyn Oslo to court for the £16 million they paid for Mikel and the two clubs eventually settled out of court.
I know what you’re thinking: That’s not a transfer saga, that’s a soap opera!
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