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Top 10 Controversial Transfers

A look at 10 football transfers surrounded by controversy

Last Updated: 07/02/13 11:52am

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Following Peter Odemwingie's desperate attempt to join QPR, Matt Stanger takes a look at ten transfers surrounded by controversy, riots, burning effigies and a pig's head...

10. Pascal Chimbonda
Considering the way Chimbonda's career in England petered out at Doncaster, it's strange to think that he was once one of the most sought-after defenders in the Premier League. The right-back was linked with a host of top-flight clubs during an impressive debut season at Wigan in 2005/06 and he was rewarded with his only cap for France in a World Cup warm-up match in May. However, Chimbonda sullied his reputation when he pulled a transfer request out of his sock on the final day of the campaign following Wigan's 4-2 defeat to Arsenal. "I've no problem with players asking for a transfer," said Wigan boss Paul Jewell. "I'm a big boy and I know it happens - but it was the manner in which it was done that upset me." After being forced to train with the reserves, Chimbonda was eventually granted his wish and joined Spurs for £4.5million.


9. Denis Law
In 11 years at Manchester United, Law scored 237 goals in 404 games, winning two league titles, the European Cup and the European Player of the Year award. He was given a free transfer by manager Tommy Docherty in 1973 and returned to United's rivals Manchester City with whom he had enjoyed two years towards the start of his career. On the final day of the 1973/74 season, United visited Maine Road with relegation looming. Law's back-heeled goal in the 81st minute put City in the lead and, thinking he was about the relegate his former club, the striker refused to celebrate before being substituted with his head bowed in anguish. It turned out that United would have been relegated whatever the result but despite this fact, Law will always be remembered as the player who sent the club down.


8. Paul Ince
Ince incensed West Ham supporters in 1989 when the Daily Express printed a picture of the midfielder wearing a Manchester United kit before his transfer had been made official. Ince claimed that his agent had suggested getting the photograph out of the way before he went on holiday but when he returned "all hell broke loose" after the picture had been leaked to the papers. Fortunately for Ince, he passed his United medical to escape enraged Hammers fans and the England international went on to win two Premier League titles at Old Trafford before buffering another controversial move to Liverpool with two seasons at Internazionale.


7. Eric Cantona
If it were not for Denis Irwin, Cantona may never have moved to United to play such a huge role in the club's early success in the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson was in a meeting with United chairman Martin Edwards when Leeds contacted United to ask about Irwin's availability. United rejected the enquiry, but Ferguson told Edwards to reply by asking about Cantona. Leeds managing director Bill Fotherby said he would need a day to speak to manager Howard Wilkinson, but called back within an hour to confirm negotiations. A fee of just £1.2million was agreed and when Brian Kidd, Ferguson's assistant, was informed of the deal he had to ask if Cantona had "lost a leg or something".


6. John Robertson
Robertson became a hero during his years at Nottingham Forest, providing the assist for Trevor Francis' winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final and scoring the winner the following year against Hamburg. In his autobiography, Brian Clough noted what an 'unattractive young man' Robertson was, but added 'give him a ball and a yard of grass, and he was an artist'. In 1983, Robertson moved to Derby to join Clough's former assistant Peter Taylor in a transfer that caused the managers' friendship to be damaged irreparably. Clough called Taylor a "snake in the grass'"and the two men never spoke again before Taylor's untimely death in 1990.


5. Luis Figo
It takes a lot for someone to sneak a pig's head into a football stadium to throw at a player and for one Barcelona fan, Luis Figo's world record move to Real Madrid in 2000 proved to be the tipping point. The Portuguese winger had just enjoyed his best season at Barca and Madrid stumped up £37million to make him the latest Galactico to arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu. On his first return to the Camp Nou, Figo was given a heated reception with fans pelting objects at him and burning effigies in the stands. He didn't regret his move, though, and said in 2011: "There was a lot of pressure on me, but looking back I think I made the right choice as joining Real Madrid allowed me to win many trophies."


4. Roberto Baggio
Baggio made a huge impression in Florence during his breakthrough years at Fiorentina and when the club sold him to Juventus for a world record fee in 1990 fans took to the streets to protest, with 50 people injured in the riots that followed. Baggio claimed he was "compelled to accept the transfer" and he refused to take a penalty against his former club when Juventus faced Fiorentina at the start of the new season. The forward was substituted later in the game and as he walked off the pitch he picked up a Viola scarf that had been thrown by fans and kissed it as a sign of his enduring love for the club.


3. Mo Johnston
Although Rangers had unknowingly signed Catholic players before Johnston's move from Nantes in 1989, Graeme Souness's acquisition of the striker was seen as the first time the club had embraced the idea. As a former Celtic player, Johnston's transfer angered both sets of fans, with the general secretary of the Rangers Supporters' Association saying: "It is a sad day for Rangers. Why sign him above all others? There will be a lot of people handing in their season tickets." Rangers' kit man also joined in the protests by making Johnston arrange his own kit before matches, but the striker won over many fans with an injury-time winner against Celtic.


2. Ashley Cole
Roy Hodgson claimed this week that Cole is "not a player that has flitted from club to club to get a slightly better contract" ahead of the defender's 100th cap for England, but the manager has clearly forgotten the acrimonious circumstances surrounding Cole's move from Arsenal to Chelsea in 2006. In his autobiography Cole claimed he 'nearly swerved off the road' and was left 'trembling with anger' when the Gunners offered him a new contract worth £55,000 a week and the defender was subsequently charged by the Premier League for holding an illicit meeting with Jose Mourinho and former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon at a London hotel. Negotiations between the two clubs dragged on following the tapping-up scandal until Cole eventually joined the Blues on August 31 in a part-exchange deal which saw Arsenal receive £5million and William Gallas.


1. Sol Campbell
Spurs never finished higher than seventh in Campbell's nine years at White Hart Lane and when the defender's contract expired in 2001 he was advised by the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, to move to a team that could offer Champions League football. Several European giants expressed an interest in Campbell as he mulled over a contract offer from Spurs that would have made him the highest-paid player at the club. But the defender eventually made the controversial move across north London to join Spurs' bitter rivals Arsenal. Outraged fans nicknamed Campbell 'Judas' following his treacherous act, but his decision was vindicated by the success he enjoyed with the Gunners.

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