Ramsey, Cantona, Van Persie: 15 of the most surprising football transfers in football history

15 of the most surprising transfers in football history.

Aaron Ramsey has joined Rangers on loan from Juventus in a surprise Deadline Day transfer.

The Welshman was heavily backed for a return to the Premier League and seemed surplus to the requirements of the Italian side.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri confirmed at the start of January, per TEAMTalk, that Ramsey would be moving to pastures new during the transfer window after the midfielder had made only five appearances across all competitions this season.

Aston Villa were one of the clubs backed to make an approach for the former Arsenal man, but it appears the 31-year-old has surprisingly decided that his future lies in Scotland, signing with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side.

What’s more shocking is that Juventus have agreed to front the majority of Ramsey’s wages, which, as talkSPORT reports, were reportedly worth £400,000 per week after the Welshman moved from Arsenal in 2019.

He might now also be eligible to play in tomorrow night’s Old Firm derby at Celtic Park.

Aaron Ramsey.

Yet, Ramsey’s surprising move has got us thinking about several other baffling transfers that have happened throughout the years.

Deadline day always brings with a few shock moves and we’ve put together a list of 15 of the most surprising transfers ever.

Andrea Pirlo – Inter Milan to AC Milan (2001)

As Dusan Vlahovic may have found out last week, swapping sides in Serie A is often a taboo move.

But Vlahovic isn’t the first player to make a shock transfer within the Italian premier division, and in 2001 Pirlo perhaps made an even bolder move, crossing the divide between Inter Milan and AC Milan.

Paul Gascoigne – Newcastle to Tottenham (1988)

The story of Gascoigne’s move from Northumbria to north London was quintessential Gazza.

The striker had promised Sir Alex Ferguson that he would sign for Manchester United, and content at the situation, the Red Devils boss decided to take a brief holiday to Malta.

But on his return to the UK, he found out that the striker had snubbed United to join Tottenham for a then-record fee of £2.2 million.

It seems Spurs managed to lure the striker to London by offering his parents a house and a car, much to the disappointment of Ferguson.


Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (2013)

There’s no doubt that Bale is a truly incredible footballer and while his 2013 move to Real Madrid was largely anticipated, it was the sheer size of the move that shocked the world.

After he scored 21 league goals during the 2012/13 season and picked up the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award the same season, it was rumoured that he would be swapping the white shirt of Tottenham for the white shirt of Madrid.

And in incredible circumstances, Bale would move to the Spanish club for a then-record transfer fee of £85.3m


David Luiz – Paris-Saint Germain to Chelsea (2016)

Antonio Conte had been chasing the likes of Alessio Romagnoli and Kalidou Koulibaly with huge sums of money, but his efforts were to no avail.

Instead, he opted to bring Brazilian defender David Luiz back to the club in a £34m deal that baffled most Chelsea fans, with many questioning Conte’s panicked plan B strategy.

Mario Gotze – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich (2013)

Like Pirlo, Gotze was another player who crossed rivalries and in 2013, the World Cup winner shocked the Bundesliga by moving from Dortmund to their Bavarian rivals Munich.

It’s safe to say the move didn’t go down so well with the BVB faithful and neither did his 2016 return to the club, with the yellow wall struggling to forgive him and nicknaming him ‘Judas’, per the Daily Mail.


Julien Faubert – West Ham to Real Madrid (2009)

In one of the more bizarre moves on this list, West Ham winger Faubert, who didn’t exactly set the world alight during his time at the London club, sensationally moved to Real Madrid on loan in 2009.

While he scored two goals in 121 appearances for the Irons, Faubert went on to play only twice for Los Blancos and is best known for falling asleep while on the bench during an away game at Villarreal.

Thomas Gravesen – Everton to Real Madrid (2005)

All things considered, Gravesen was a very good footballer for Everton, helping them climb into the top four in the 2004/05 season.

But the Dane’s baffling move to Real Madrid was as much of a head-scratcher as Faubert’s.

The transfer shocked the footballing world and similar to Faubert, Gravesen’s time in the Spanish capital didn’t last too long, making 49 appearances for the club before returning to Celtic and then again to Everton.

Life after football for Gravesen has been even more baffling, with the ex-player now living in Las Vegas playing poker for a living.

Tommy Gravesen.

Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea (2011)

As the rule goes, you don’t sell to rival clubs, which is why we were baffled when Liverpool decided to let Torres leave the club to join title contenders Chelsea.

Although the surprise comes at how much Chelsea paid for the forward, who was back then, going through a drop in form.

Their decision to sign the player for £50m is one we still think about today and became even more baffling when we looked back at Torres’ performances in a blue shirt, netting just 20 times in 110 Premier League appearances.

Then again, Chelsea fans are forever indebted to the Spanish forward, whose breakaway goal in the 2012 Champions League semi-finals sent the Blues through to that fateful final in Munich and also sent Gary Neville off his chair.

Robin van Persie – Arsenal to Manchester United (2012)

Having not won a trophy since 2005, the Gunners were going through a tough transitionary period, the misery of which was further compounded by the loss of their star striker Van Persie.

Despite netting 132 times for Arsenal over 278 matches, Van Persie was not going to sign a new contract at the club and in a shock move that saw Arsenal cash in on £27m for the Duchman, he moved to Man Utd, where he won the Premier League the following season.

Robinho – Real Madrid to Manchester City (2008)

Many fans across the UK woke up on the morning of September 1 2008, not expecting to see the news that Brazilian magician Robinho had signed for Manchester City.

Done in the 11th hour of the transfer window, Manchester City had made a last-minute £32.5m swoop to secure the out of favour Real Madrid man.

But it’s safe to say the deal was a failure, with the Brazilian playing just 53 times for City over two years at the club.

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Jon Obi Mikel – Manchester United/Lyn Oslo to Chelsea (2006)

It is unclear what transpired between Chelsea, Manchester United and Norwegian club Lyn Oslo in the signing of Mikel.

In 2005 Manchester United had claimed to have reached an agreement with Mikel, posting photos of him holding one of their shirts online.

But Chelsea became incensed by what they had seen and believed that they had a prior agreement with Lyn Oslo to sign the player claiming that they had provided him with finances to complete his education in Norway as a guarantee that he would eventually join them.

It was a confusing tale that involved fraud, misrepresentation and misinformation and has funnily still not been clarified.

But the opaque situation was finally settled by an intervention from the Norwegian Football Federation, which allowed Chelsea to pay a split fee to Manchester United (£12m) and Lyn (£4m).

Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United (1992)

As highlighted in the BBC documentary Fever Pitch, Cantona’s move to Manchester United from Leeds was both divisive and hilarious.

The Red Devils had initially received a call from Leeds to inquire about the availability of Denis Irwin, but he was not for sale.

Instead, they United decided to offer to buy Cantona, who had fallen out with Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson and their bid was accepted.

The Manchester club notoriously bartered Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby down from £1.5m to £1.2 for the Frenchman and the Leeds boss hilariously asked the club to announce that the sale was made at £1.5 to not anger their fanbase.

Eric Cantona.

Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal (2001)

Not many have navigated the divide between Tottenham and Arsenal and Campbell’s surprising move on a free transfer came as a huge shock to fans of both clubs.

Spurred on by his ambition to win trophies, Campbell received a lot of vitriol at the time for the move and reportedly, per talkSPORT, still receives the same abuse today.

Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid (2000)

Figo is one of few players to have played on both sides of a Classico and his £36.2m move from Barcelona to rivals Real Madrid was as shocking as they come.

On his return to the Camp Nou, Figo was greeted with a hail of objects from oranges to cigarette lighters, and even a pig’s head was thrown at the Portuguese player.

Carlos Tevez – Manchester United to Manchester City (2009)

Perhaps one of the most unthinkable moves in world football, Carlos Tevez switched allegiances moving from the blue half of Manchester to the red half.

Despite winning every domestic honour and the Champions League with the Red Devils, Tevez was still not happy at the club.

And in a bid to ruffle the feathers of the United faithful, many will remember how Mark Hughes’ side posted a blue Welcome to Manchester billboard in the city centre.

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