16 of the weirdest transfers of the last decade: Faubert, Bendtner, Anelka

Quick Reads

Paris Saint-Germain signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting from Stoke City raised plenty of eyebrows in the 2018 summer transfer window – but it’s far from the weirdest transfer of the last decade.

Choupo-Moting moved to PSG after being relegated from the Premier League with Stoke last season, but having previously worked under Thomas Tuchel at Mainz, it wasn’t too difficult to understand the logic behind the move.

Some of these signings, however, really had people scratching their heads.

Julien Faubert – Real Madrid

In July 2007, West Ham paid £6.1million to sign Faubert from Bordeaux on a five-year contract.

Unfortunately for the Hammers, the France international (yes, one cap, one goal) ruptured his Achilles tendon during pre-season and made only eight appearances in his first campaign at Upton Park.

The following season, he’d managed 24 appearances, failing to score, when on January 31, 2009 he joined Real Madrid on a six-month loan deal, which it’s fair to say took every single person on earth by surprise.

Would he take full advantage of this huge, huge move? Well, no.

He pulled on the famous white shirt just twice, scored no goals, and fell asleep on the bench midway through a game before returning to West Ham.

At least he went on to make another 73 appearances for the Hammers, without falling asleep on the bench once.

He went on to join Turkish side Elazigspor in 2012 before returning to Bordeaux after just one season, going on to play for Kilmarnock, Finnish outfit Inter Turku and then in Indonesia where he surely became the first ex-Real Madrid player to appear for Borneo FC.

Fabio Borini – AC Milan

In 2017, without Champions League football for several years, Milan sought to rebuild their squad and splashed the cash on Leonardo Bonucci, Andre Silva, Lucas Biglia, Matteo Musacchio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hakan Calhanoglu and Frank Kessie.

Their signing of Fabio Borini on loan from Sunderland, with whom he had just been relegated from the Premier League, stood out somewhat.

The forward had managed just 20 goals in his previous 131 games for the Wearsiders and Liverpool, including just two in the season just past, yet the £1.5million loan deal also included an obligation to buy him at the end of the year for a further £5.2million.

However, credit where credit is due, Borini was deployed for the majority of the season at wing-back, where he contributed five goals and seven assists in 44 games, helping guide Milan to a sixth-place finish in the league and the Coppa Italia final, where they were beaten by Juventus.

Paulinho – Barcelona

When Paulinho joined Tottenham for £17million in 2013, the 24-year-old became the club’s record signing.

The Brazilian had enjoyed a fantastic 12 months leading up to the big-money move, winning the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Cup with Corinthians and taking home the Bronze Ball at the 2013 Confederations Cup with Brazil, but things did not work out for him at White Hart Lane.

He left after two years, labelled a flop, joining Guangzhou Evergrande in China.

But if people expected that to be the last they heard of Paulinho, they were wrong. He adapted well to the Chinese game, scoring 28 goals in 95 appearances and working his way back into the Brazil squad, then in the summer of 2017, seemingly out of nowhere, he signed for Barcelona for €40million.

As if that wasn’t strange enough, Paulinho scored nine goals in 49 appearances for Barça in his first season at the Nou Camp, helping them complete a league and cup double before starting all five of Brazil’s games at the 2018 World Cup.

It felt as though he had finally started to fulfil the early promise he showed at Corinthians…but then he left Barça to rejoin Guangzhou Evergrande on loan, with an obligation to buy after one season.

Still only 30, Paulinho’s had a strange old five years. It hasn’t stopped the midfielder bagging nine goals in 11 games since his return to China, though.

Nicklas Bendtner & Nicolas Anelka – Juventus

With several not very prolific strikers already on their books – Mirko Vucinic, Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri – it was a tad strange that, during the summer of 2012, instead of going out of their way to get a proven goalscorer, Juventus opted for Nicklas Bendtner on loan from Arsenal.

Bendtner had just scored eight goals in 30 games on loan at Sunderland in the 2011-2012 season, which hardly seemed like the type of form to earn you a move to the newly-crowed Italian champions, but it was.

It took Bendtner until October 28 to make his first start in a 1-0 away win at Catania and then December 12 to make his second, which saw him suffer a thigh injury that was expected to rule him out for two to three months.

It opened the door for Juve to make yet another bizarre loan signing in the shape of Nicolas Anelka, who at the time was struggling to score goals in China.

Not surprisingly, Anelka managed just three appearances for The Old Lady, making as little an impact as humanly possible.

Meanwhile, still out injured, Bendtner was arrested for drink driving on March 4. He didn’t return to first-team action until the final league game of the season, with the title already wrapped up, when he came on as a second-half substitute and…broke his wrist.

Together the pair mustered 14 Juventus appearances, scoring zero goals.

READ: A celebration of Nicklas Bendtner, his modest talent & not-so-modest belief

Bebé – Manchester United

Bebé’s story was already remarkable, but the scriptwriters clearly got carried away when he made a £7.4million move to Manchester United in 2010, just five weeks after he’d signed for Vitoria de Guimaraes.

Abandoned by his parents as a young child and lived in a homeless shelter from the age of 12, Bebé had been impressing in the Portuguese second tier for Estrela da Amadora the previous season and had scored five goals in six pre-season games for Vitoria, but still nobody could have foreseen the move to Old Trafford.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he’d never seen the winger play and that he only signed him on the recommendation of his former assistant manager Carlos Queiroz.

Bebé actually played seven times in his first season in England, scoring twice, but he was loaned to Besiktas for the following season and never appeared for United again, spending a further two years out on loan before joining Benfica on a permanent basis in the summer of 2014.

He mustered just six appearances there but has since established himself in La Liga, most recently with Rayo Vallecano.

David Bentley – FC Rostov

The ‘new David Beckham’ shared the same initials and position as the man he was likened to, but that’s where the comparisons end.

After three successful seasons at Blackburn, Bentley had worked his way into the England fold and earned himself a £15million transfer to Tottenham in the summer of 2008, but despite a good start at the club, including a magnificent 43-yard volley against Arsenal, Bentley quickly slipped down the pecking order.

He went on to have pretty unsuccessful loan spells at Birmingham and West Ham before, in 2012, making one of the most surprising moves in years when he joined Russian side FC Rostov on loan.

Bentley became the first Englishman to play in the Russian Premier League but didn’t leave a lasting impression, making just seven appearances before returning to White Hart Lane and then making one final loan move, back to Blackburn, in January 2013.

He was released by Spurs at the end of the season and hung up his boots a year later at the age of 29 after failing to find a new club.

Papy Dijilbodji, Michael Hector & Nathan – Chelsea

Juventus signing Anelka and Bendtner in the same season was odd, but Chelsea’s business in the summer of 2015 was just extraordinary. As well as the above three, they also signed Radamel Falcao, Baba Rahman, Marco Amelia, Joseph Colley and Danilo Pantic.

At the time of writing, Dijilbodji, Hector and Nathan have made one appearance for the Blues between them.

Dijilbodji was signed from Nantes after Chelsea had missed out on John Stones and Ezequiel Garay, yet just a day after signing he was left out of the club’s 25-man Champions League squad by Jose Mourinho.

He was the one member of the trio to actually play, appearing as a substitute in added time of a League Cup match against Walsall, but by January he had been loaned to Werder Bremen and by the summer he had been sold to Sunderland.

He is currently without a club.

Hector, still of Chelsea, signed on transfer deadline day in a deal that saw him stay at Reading on loan for the season. He has since spent time on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, Hull City and now Sheffield Wednesday but is yet to appear for his actual club.

Nathan is also still of Chelsea but has also spent his entire time out on loan, though he did at least last nine days at Stamford Bridge before being farmed out for the first time.

Loans spells at Vitesse, Amiens, Belenenses and Athletico Mineiro have moved him no closer to the Chelsea first team.

READ: The 29 Chelsea players out on loan this season – and how they’re faring

Best of the rest

Edgar Davids – Free agent to Barnet – 2012

Steven Caulker – QPR to Liverpool – 2016

Lassana Diarra – Al Jazira to PSG – 2018

Steven Fletcher – Sunderland to Marseille – 2016

Joey Barton – QPR to Marseille – 2012

By Chris O’Byrne


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