Silly Season madness: the top ten football transfers

We are at the busiest time of the year when it comes to football. Teams strive to strengthen their squads and thus attack the transfer market to be more competitive, providing the coach with the desired players.

The fans, elated by the passion for their heart's club, vibrate with all the buzz and dream of the biggest stars signing for the home team.  

This week, we decided to highlight ten transfers that made it into the history of football. The best of the best move a lot of money - and passion as well, as these transfers prove.


1. Roberto Baggio: Fiorentina to Juventus, 1990

Juventus v Fiorentina is one of the lesser-known rivalries in Italian football, but the hostility is profound. So when Fiorentina sold Baggio for a world record fee of £8 million in 1990, it didn't go down well. Roberto Baggio's record transfer (at the time) to Juventus triggered riots in Florence that resulted in fifty injuries and nine arrests. 

The following season, in his first match against Fiorentina, Baggio refused to take a penalty and was subsequently substituted, despite claiming he was "forced to accept the transfer". When he was replaced, a Fiorentina scarf was thrown at him, which he took and kissed. He said that his heart would always be purple: the colours of Fiorentina.


2. Jean-Marc Bosman: RFC Liège to Unattached, 1990

In that same year, a remarkable moment in modern football took place, one that owes everything to a pretty inconsequential player. Bosman was playing for RFC Liège when he decided to take his employers to court for his labour rights in the summer of 1990. Dunkerque wanted to hire him but did not meet Liège's asking price, resulting in his club cutting its wages by a whopping 75 %.

Five years and an arduous lawsuit later, Bosman was declared free to move at the end of his contract without money having to exchange hands between parties. A new era of football contracts resulted, one that gave more power to players.


3. Luis Figo: FC Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000

Few transfers have generated as much anger in fans as Luis Figo's move from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000.

The legendary Portuguese winger had the adoration of Barcelona fans for five years, winning all the club's great honours except the Champions League.

Despite his success, Figo willingly agreed to a €36 million transfer to arch-rival Real Madrid in what has become the most bitter transfer in football history. Becoming the most expensive football player of all time was not enough to neutralize Barça's angry fans, who immediately attacked him with a barrage of criticism, hatred and personal abuse.

The controversy peaked when Figo had a pig's head thrown at him while trying to score a corner during a derby at Camp Nou.

With this move, Luis Figo became the first "Galactico" to join Florentino Perez's Real Madrid, who became the dominant force in European football in the early 21st century.


4. Sol Campbell: Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal, 2001

When the club captain tells his club's monthly magazine that he will never join his sworn rivals, fans usually believe his statement. 

But after his contract with Tottenham ended, the club's then captain became the first player since Pat Jennings to move from White Hart Lane to Highbury.

He wanted to win trophies, and he didn't feel that Tottenham would be able to live up to his ambition. On the contrary, at Arsenal he could. Simple: and even today, he seems baffled by the confusion this has caused. 


5. Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano: Corinthians to West Ham (2006)

Something seemed suspicious about Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano move to West Ham in 2006. They were two South American young prospects, coming from appearances for Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, and both had chosen to sign with West Ham.

Third parties owned Tevez and Mascherano contracts: Media Sports Investments had Tevez, and Global Soccer Agencies and Mystere Services had Mascherano. The English club wasn't keen with dealing with the hassle of third party ownership, so initially gave up on signing either of them. In the end, after much back and forth, West Ham ended up paying £5.5 million to secure both players. Money well spent: in the last match of the season, Tevez scored the goal that with which West Ham avoided relegation.

This certainly wasn't the last time that Tevez made headlines for a controversial transfer...


6. John Obi Mikel: Lyn Oslo to Chelsea, 2006

Even now, no one seems to be sure what happened between Manchester United, Chelsea and Lyn Oslo, the club from Norway. In 2005, United said it had reached an agreement with the player and the club, and even released pictures of him holding their shirt.

Chelsea was furious, insisting that they had a prior agreement to sign Mikel, evidenced by the financial aid it had provided the player during his upbringing and education in Norway.

An intervention by the Norwegian Football Federation led Chelsea to pay a £16 million split fee to Manchester United and Lyn for a player who would win all the national and continental trophies available to him in the next decade.


7. David Beckham: Real Madrid to LA Galaxy, 2007

Like Pelé in 1975, David Beckham brought the MLS to the world's football centre stage in 2007. That's the year when he moved from Real Madrid to the LA Galaxy. At the time, Beckham was the most famous football player in the world.

This transfer had been in the works for years, but when it happened it took everyone by surprise, especially since Beckham had just helped Real Madrid won the Spanish La Liga title. 

People could debate for hours on whether Beckham's move to the United States was a success. In any case, the championship's profile grew, and the competition undoubtedly got better with players such as Beckham.


8. Bebe: Vitoria SC to Man United, 2010

The player that Alex Ferguson famously signed without ever see playing. Bebe's move to Old Trafford was sealed off with an astonishing fee of over £7 million. The adventure ended four years and only two Premier League games later as one of the most ignominious and inexplicable transfers of the modern era.

United bought Bebe from Vitória SC at a time when he had only played six pre-season friendlies for the Portuguese club, having only recently signed a contract with them. The transfer was subject to an investigation by the Portuguese anti-corruption authorities in 2012, but neither party was ever accused of irregularities.


9. Neymar: Barcelona to PSG, 2017

The sensational move of the Brazilian superstar from Barcelona to PSG broke the previous transfer rate (previously held by Paul Pogba) by an absurd £109 million. Spanish teams are required to include a purchase clause in each player's contract, but no one believed that a club would ever beat the gigantic figure included in Neymar's contract with Barcelona.

Motivated by a burning desire to win the Ballon d'Or, Neymar decided to escape Lionel Messi's shadow and become the undisputed star of the Parc des Princes. The master plan has not yet worked.


10. João Félix: Benfica to Atlético Madrid, 2019

The third force in Spanish football, Atlético Madrid is among the top spending clubs in the 21st century, and that's mainly because of deals like this one: João Félix signed for the club for €126 million.

João Félix was only 18 years at the time but had made the news with a wonderful season in the Portuguese league for Benfica, where he stood out scoring 20 goals in 43 matches. 

Following the same transfer policy, Atlético has already signed three more checks of over €50 million: Diego Costa, Morata and Griezmann.


Every summer there's talk of amazing deals such as these ten. This year, it looked like the "bomb" would be Messi's departure from Barcelona. The player and the club seemed to have made peace in the meanwhile, so we'll have to wait for another transfer window to open.

Would you like to be the star of the football news world with an amazing transfer? You better start practising! Ask us about our football training camps and sports tours and join our international football tournament, Lisbon Football Youth Cup.