Seven players that sullied their legacies with acrimonious transfers
Speculation over Harry Kane‘s future was rife until he committed his future to Tottenham. Had he moved to Manchester City, it would certainly have been a stain on his legacy at Spurs.
Kane is already Tottenham‘s second all-time top scorer and will surely eclipse Jimmy Greaves to move top of the list if he remains in north London for the rest of his career. But the striker is yet to win silverware and, at the age of 28, reportedly saw this summer as an opportunity to move elsewhere and compete for titles.
Reports suggesting that he returned late this summer in a bid to try and force through a move to champions Manchester City blemished his reputation a little among the Spurs faithful, but you imagine that will all be forgiven if continues to score goals this season.
But a number of other players that have made ambitious moves away from where they’re loved and sullied their reputations in the process.
Here are seven of the most acrimonious moves in Premier League history.
Long before Rafael Benitez controversially crossed the Stanley Park divide came a direct transfer as Everton agonisingly lost out one of their prized assets to their Merseyside rivals in 2000.
“If my highest high this year was taking the telephone call from my lawyers to tell me I’d finally got Everton, the lowest low was hearing the news about Nick Barmby,” Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said shortly after the move went through.
“It was hearing he had used the six of the worst words in the English language as far as Everton fans are concerned. He had said: ‘I want to play for Liverpool’. To say I was shocked and surprised doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about it.”
Barmby never quite replicated his career-best performances from his time at Goodison, but seeing him lift a treble of trophies during his debut season at Liverpool hurt.
The most infamous Bosman in the history of the Premier League.
Needless to say, Campbell leaving for Spurs for Arsenal in the summer of 2001 guaranteed dog’s abuse in north London derbies for years to come. A decade after his retirement, the wound remains raw at Tottenham.
After David O’Leary’s Babies reached the Champions League semi-final in 2001, an entire generation of Leeds United fans grew up as steely cynics, afraid to get their hearts broken again after seeing their favourite players leave in increasingly upsetting ways.
Captain and record signing Rio Ferdinand and hometown hero Alan Smith joining one another at the old enemy Manchester United was bad enough, but the circumstances of Kewell’s departure in 2003 arguably hurt even more – even if the destination, Liverpool, wasn’t as unpalatable.
Kewell was born and raised in Sydney but moved to Leeds as a teenager and nurtured his skills in their academy before eventually breaking through to become one of their most dynamic and exciting players.
It really stung to see him leave amid alleged shenanigans from his agent, leaving cash-strapped Leeds seeing little of the transfer fee. To make matters worse, the Australian later joined Galatasaray – he was with Leeds when two of their fans were tragically murdered in Istanbul in 2000, while the Super Lig club have since offered little contrition for their role in stoking up a febrile atmosphere around that infamous UEFA Cup semi-final.
Had things panned out differently after leaving Elland Road, his contributions in a Leeds shirt would have seen him warmly welcomed back to the city. Safe to say that won’t ever happen now.
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 2, 2021
Having shared a dressing room with Campbell, Cole was well aware of exactly what it meant to leave one bitter rival for another. But it didn’t stop him.
Chelsea’s rapid ascent as the capital’s dominant force, eclipsing the Invincibles to do so, was difficult enough to stomach. Losing one of their best players, a product of the Hale End academy, made it even worse.
It soon became a familiar feeling as the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Robin van Persie would later depart for better-resourced, Premier League rivals.
“I was young, naive, stupid, but it was something I felt I had to do,” Cole – dubbed Cashley for making the lucrative move to Stamford Bridge – later reminisced.
“The way I acted I was a little bit stubborn at the time. Maybe I should have sat down with a few more people at the time and gone through it with an ice-cool head.
“I was a bit hot-headed and didn’t realise what I was doing at the time but I don’t regret it. When I look back now I think it was something that was maybe meant to happen.”
Sir Alex Ferguson’s second truly great Manchester United side will forever be fondly remembered at Old Trafford. Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick, John O’Shea, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo… the list goes on.
One name that you can omit from that list is Tevez. The Argentinian was a vital and at times standout figure of the side that won three Premier League titles and the Champions League between 2006 and 2009, having formed a brilliant and irresistible front three alongside Rooney and Ronaldo.
But leaving for their new-moneyed neighbours City burned his bridges when it came in the red half of Manchester. The ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard in the city centre only stoked the flames.
“It’s City isn’t it? They are a small club with a small mentality,” Ferguson responded.
“All they can talk about is Manchester United; they can’t get away from it. That arrogance will be rewarded. It is a go at us, that’s the one thing it is. They think taking Carlos Tevez away from Manchester United is a triumph. It is poor stuff.”
Robin Van Persie
Van Persie scored 132 goals for the Gunners, but seven of his eight seasons with the club ended frustratingly trophyless.
Having notched a career-best 30 Premier League goals to fire an otherwise ordinary Arsenal to a third-place finish in 2011-12, Van Persie made a decision that would delight and exasperate the buying and selling club respectively.
Twenty-nine years old and with a desperation to win major honours, Van Persie left for Old Trafford in the summer of 2012 and soon enough got his wish. Twenty-six goals in an unforgettable debut season fired United to the Premier League title.
One of the most bitter summer transfer sagas of recent years that largely played out with stories in the tabloids eventually finished with Sterling leaving Liverpool for Man City for £44million in 2015.
Looking back, it’s difficult not to feel deeply uncomfortable with how the English media portrayed the young black England international as his contract dispute at Anfield became enmeshed with stories about his family life and how he chose to spend his money. He was even booed by fans of other clubs.
Liverpool have done alright without him in the end, but it’s difficult to argue that Sterling’s decision hasn’t been completely vindicated by his bulging trophy cabinet, having been turned into one of Europe’s most dangerous attackers under the guidance of Pep Guardiola.