Football has a habit of throwing up the occasional curveball and surprise, which is the reason why we all love the game dearly.
This doesn’t take just take place on the pitch, business that happens away from the action can also leave supporters stunned, especially with the calibre of players that move from certain clubs to others.
Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and Paul Ince’s move to Liverpool in 1997 are honourable mentions but just miss out on this list. Whether it’s big-name players making a sudden exit or others daring to make the risky switch to a heated rival, some moves have been enough to make us think “what is he thinking?”
Out of all the transfers in history, we have whittled down the list to just 10. Scroll down to see the most shocking football transfers of all time…
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10. Mo Johnston (Nantes – Rangers) 1989
The religious row between the two clubs turned into a frenzy after Mo Johnston made the move to Ibrox, which led to avid protestants vowing never to return to Rangers and Catholics burning effigies of Johnston. He went on to win titles in both seasons at the club before moving to Everton in 1991.
9. Thomas Gravesen (Everton – Real Madrid) 2004
If you would have told Everton fans the year before if they thought Thomas Gravesen would be playing for Real Madrid, they probably would have laughed at you.
Even the Dane himself revealed years that he was stunned that the move even took place, less than a week after placing Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup.
Gravesen joined up with the likes of Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane and Raul and thought that his move would be to Atletico rather than Real.
8. Johan Cruyff (Ajax – Feyenoord) 1983
Cruyff was left flabbergasted that Ajax opted not to renew his contract at the end of the 1982/82 season. Having become a legendary figure at the Amsterdam-based club and at the age of 37, Cruyff made the decision to switch to their most hated rivals, Feyenoord.
The Dutch icon went on to enjoy and league and cup double with the club. But despite this, Ajax opted to name their stadium in his honour after his passing in 2016.
7. Dale Jennings (Tranmere Rovers – Bayern Munich) 2011
Dale Jennings, a League One football once the 2010s came around after breaking into Tranmere’s first-team. The winger would have been excused for thinking that a possible move to the Championship would have been on the cards.
Amazingly, Bundesliga behemonths Bayern Munich offered their interest and swooped for Jennings, but unfortunately injury destroyed his player development. Having gone on to endure grim spells at Barnsley and MK Dons, Jennings is now playing for Prestatyn Town in the second tier of Welsh football.
6. Fernando Torres (Liverpool – Chelsea) 2011
While Fernando Torres had been seriously out of form leading up to January in 2011, it would have seemed unlikely that any transfer record would have been broken for the Spaniard.
But Roman Abramovich dug into his pockets and paid £50m for the Anfield star, but failed to replicate his Merseyside form, scoring just 45 times in 172 appearances.
5. Eric Cantona (Leeds United – Manchester United) 1992
Both Leeds United and Manchester United have not been too friendly towards each other over the years. But if legend is to be believed, this spur-of-the-moment move from Cantona to move to Old Trafford left many scratching their heads.
The two clubs have been bitter rivals for decades. The thought of any player moving from one club to another was unthinkable. However, Cantona did just that and became one of the most recognised and well-loved players in Premier League history.
4. Carlos Tevez (Manchester United – Manchester City)
It is something you just don’t do. Considered one of Manchester United’s most important senior players, it came to everyone’s surprise after winning everything with the Red Devils he would move to Manchester City.
But even that failed to win over any new support, as his soulless attitude towards his football failed to win over the Etihad faithful, especially having refused to come on as a substitute during a Champions League match against Bayern Munich.
3. Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid) 2000
This was an incredibly brave move at the time, which surprisingly, was met with a hostile response from the Nou Camp faithful.
On his return to Barcelona wearing the white of Madrid in 2001, it was one of the most antagonistic receptions ever given to a player.
Figo was met with a barrage of cigarette lighters, oranges and bottles being thrown at him every time he touched the ball, with a pig’s head being thrown at him a year later as he went to take a corner.
2. Sol Campbell (Tottenham – Arsenal) 2001
After openly stating he was staying at White Hart Lane and with his Tottenham contract expiring, the world of football was shocked when the club’s then-captain became the first player since Pat Jennings to move to Arsenal from Spurs.
To this day, the reasons for his move are still baffling and the fact he didn’t understand the fuss it caused is equally strange.
His reception as an Arsenal player by Tottenham fans was boarding on brutal, with calls of ‘Judas’ and huge banners being unveiled by supporters told the story as to what they thought about his decision.
1. Julien Faubert (West Ham – Real Madrid on loan) 2009
This transfer had everyone stunned – as simply no one saw anything coming.
Even Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson was aghast by the news. Having been informed by Jeff Stelling that the Frenchman would be making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, he said: “Who’s his agent? “He should be knighted by the queen!”
It’s hard to disagree with this either, considering West Ham were in mid-table at the time. But having appeared to fall asleep on the bench during a game against Villarreal, Faubert failed to set the world alight at the Galacticos and played just 52 minutes of competitive football.
What do you make of this list? Do you agree? Any other shocking transfers that should have made the mark? Get in contact and let us know!