Nine of the biggest U-turns in football: Donnarumma, Willian, Sissoko & more

Quick Reads

Two years ago, Fabian Delph completed one of football’s great U-turns, joining Manchester City less than a week after committing his future to Aston Villa. He’s not the only one to have changed his mind in the past…

Fabian Delph

July 11, 2015: Amid speculation he will join Manchester City, Delph releases a statement which reads: “I’m aware there has been intense media speculation surrounding my future in the last 24 hours and I want to set the record straight. I’m not leaving. I’m staying at the football club and I can’t wait for the start of the season and captaining this great football club.”

July 17, 2015: Aston Villa release a statement which reads: “Aston Villa can confirm that Fabian Delph has exercised the release clause in his contract and will join Manchester City.”

We don’t begrudge Delph swapping Villa for City with the ambition of winning trophies, playing in the Champions League and furthering his international career, but that doesn’t make it any less funny.

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Gianluigi Donnarumma

One of the images of the summer so far has to be Donnarumma standing resolutely in Italy Under-21s’ penalty area surrounded by notes of fake money thrown at him by his supporters behind the goal.

Donnarumma is considered Italy’s most exciting talent but Mino Raiola the 18-year-old angered AC Milan fans by rejecting a new deal at the San Siro, leading to accusations of greed from the player who has only been able to legally purchase alcohol in England since February.

Alas, the goalkeeper signed a new four-year contract less than a month later, making him one of the best paid players in Italy.

What were you doing when you were 18, eh? In fact, don’t answer that.

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READ: Gianluigi Donnarumma already heading for greatness

Didi Hamann

One of the Premier League’s favourite imports, Hamann was a massive favourite at Newcastle and Liverpool, but is certainly less popular at Bolton.

Only a day after signing for the Trotters in July 2006, the club released a statement that the Germany international “had since had a change of heart” and would be joining a different club, which turned out to by Manchester City.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for Bolton.

“What you never realised was that we never actually countersigned the papers and just put them in the drawer,” Bolton chairman Phil Gartside told Hamann on TalkSPORT in 2013.

“The next thing we know, you came along and told us you’d got this opportunity to go to Manchester City – so we actually sold you without actually signing you; did you know that? We got £400,000 from Manchester City for a player we never actually signed – and that’s the truth.”

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VOTE: Ozil, Klinsmann, Hamann & 16 of the best Germans to have graced the PL

Moussa Sissoko

Quite literally a U-turn. Sissoko was understood to be travelling to Merseyside to sign for Everton on deadline day of the summer 2016 transfer window, only for Tottenham to revive their interest in the midfielder and eventually meet Newcastle’s £30million asking price.

The France international headed straight for north London to sign on the dotted line before enduring a hugely underwhelming season at White Hart Lane.


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Carlos Tevez

Oh, Carlitos; lovely, mad, brilliant Carlitos.

Whether Tevez did indeed refuse to come on as a substitute for Manchester City at Bayern Munich, whether it was a genuine misunderstanding, or whether it was somewhere in between, one thing was clear in the mind of Roberto Mancini: the striker was “finished” at the club.

After returning to Argentina and playing a fair few rounds of golf, Tevez eventually apologised and made his City comeback exactly six months after his previous appearance, setting up Samir Nasri’s winner against Chelsea, before helping the club get their title challenge back on track.

If it wasn’t for the stubbornness of one Argentinian, we may have never got the iconic last-minute, title-winning goal of another.

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Richard Wright

July 6, 2012: Wright leaves Preston North End after one week at the club citing homesickness, with his family living in East Anglia.

August 31, 2012: Wright joins Premier League champions Manchester City, 37 miles closer to Ipswich than Preston.

May 17, 2016: Wright retires from football having made zero appearances for City over four years.

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David Beckham

“Beckham will train with the team, but he won’t play. A player who has such an important contract with another club, we cannot count on him.”

Those were the words of then-Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello in January 2007 after it had been confirmed the midfielder would join LA Galaxy at the end of the season.

Five months earlier, Beckham had also been dropped from the England squad following the appointment of Steve McClaren as manager.

Come the end of the season, Beckham would be starting in England’s first match at the new Wembley and was lifting the Spanish title after fighting his way back into the Real side.

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READ: THAT red card and more moments that defined David Beckham’s career

David Unsworth

A lengthy commute to and from work can be a b*tch for everyone – footballers included – and it just proved too much for Unsworth at Aston Villa.

After leaving West Ham in order to return to his Merseyside roots, Unsworth found himself driving for three-and-a-half hours following his first training session at the club.

Around a month and one friendly appearance later, the defender was being presented as an Everton player, much to the dismay of Villa boss John Gregory.

“The poor lad was clearly under the impression that Birmingham was somewhere on the outskirts of Bolton,” he said.

It still worked out alright for Villa, who went on to mount an unlikely title challenge with a certain Gareth Barry stepping in to fill the void left by Unsworth.

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READ: Remembering Aston Villa’s near miss in 1998-99

Willian

A U-turn so popular in west London it is still sang about to this day.

Willian appeared all set to join Tottenham and even underwent a medical with the club ahead of a £30million move from Anzhi Makhachkala.

But Chelsea hijacked the move ,and the Brazilian has spent has spent the last four years at Stamford Bridge, much to the delight of Blues supporters – and the disdain of Spurs fans.

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