Ranking Jose Mourinho’s 13 weirdest signings: Falcao, Hart, Djilobodji…
Jose Mourinho is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most controversial managers of all time.
In a career spanning nine clubs in over 20 years, the ‘special one’ has won pretty much everything on offer, with multiple league titles and Champions League trophies to his name, and also struck up a reputation as someone who likes to open his wallet.
Spending over £1billion in total at his nine different clubs makes him one of the biggest spenders in football history, and these signings naturally range from the brilliant to the utterly abysmal.
We’ve ranked his 13 weirdest – not necessarily the worst – signings he’s made throughout his career at any of his clubs, from somewhat weird to mind-blowingly bizarre.
13. Baba Rahman
“I’m looking forward to playing in the squad. Football is not a one-man show, we have to play together,” the Ghanaian left-back said after he joined Chelsea in August 2015.
“He [Mourinho] is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m looking forward to working with him.
“I think he can be funny sometimes, that’s what I have seen on TV, but he is a hard-working coach and tactical.”
You can imagine Jose pulling out the ol’ Joe Pesci routine from Goodfellas in response to that comment – “I’m funny how? I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?”
Rahman actually made 23 appearances, 15 in the Premier League, during his debut campaign, and is still at Chelsea seven years on – but currently into a seventh loan away.
12. Tal Ben-Haim
The imposing Israeli centre-back was impressive at Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers, so there were a few clubs circling around him when his contract expired in the summer of 2007.
Mourinho’s Chelsea ultimately picked him up, despite already having John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Alex within their ranks, yet Ben-Haim claims he was promised first-team football.
Mourinho then left Chelsea in September 2007 after a poor start to the season, which left Ben-Haim in an awkward position under his replacement Avram Grant, who fined him two weeks wages after an angry outburst.
“It was Jose who brought me here and no one except he and I know the conversation we had when he tried to sign me the first time a year ago last January,” the defender stated.
“The fact is while Jose was the coach I played most of the games and people who know me know that I would not have come here to be a reserve. I knew nothing good would come for me with Grant as Chelsea coach.”
He only lasted one season at Chelsea and played just 13 games, which raises the question of why Mourinho signed him and promised him a first-team role only for him to spend a season on the bench.
11. Hamit Altintop
Another Real Madrid signing which was odd at the time and even weirder to think back on, Altintop moved to the Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2011, as a 28-year-old backup midfielder.
A club famous for big-money, big-name transfers signing a backup midfielder for free was out of character to say the least, and when you consider that the Turkey international only made five league appearances in his one year at the club, the deal becomes even more questionable.
Mourinho handed him a four-year deal, but sold him to Galatasary after just a season. Not a deal he’d regret, but one he probably wouldn’t repeat.
10. Radamel Falcao
A surprising entry on the list, given how good Radamel Falcao was in his prime, but Mourinho did not sign prime Falcao.
Mourinho signed an out of confidence, not fully fit Falcao, who had just spent a very unproductive year at Old Trafford.
To be fair to Mourinho, he was brought in as a backup, but on loan from Monaco, where he was paid a very handsome wage, Falcao scored just one league goal. Really not worth it.
9. Mohamed Salah
Why does one of the best players in the world feature on this list, you ask?
Mourinho signed Salah in January 2014, but after barely playing him, loaned and eventually sold him at Chelsea.
Chelsea fans cover their eyes in horror whenever Salah scores against them, remembering that he once wore a blue shirt, and will question why Mourinho bought such a talent if he wasn’t going to play him.
8. Juan Cuadrado
Like Salah, Cuadrado was bought in a January window, for £23million in 2015, but after just 13 league appearances in six months, was loaned and eventually sold to Juventus, where he still remains a pretty useful player.
Again, people wonder what part Mourinho had to play in the deal, and question why it couldn’t have turned out differently.
7. Filipe Luis
Signing arguably the best left-back in the world for £18million from Atletico Madrid in 2014 seemed amazing business at the time, until Mourinho decided to play Cesar Azpilicueta out of position ahead of him.
Luis stayed for just one year before returning to Atletico for around £14million, meaning Chelsea made a loss. What was the point?
6. Jiri Jarosik
A defender signed from CSKA Moscow in 2005, Jarosik arrived at Chelsea, started their League Cup final victory, played just enough games to collect a Premier League winners medal, and departed as quickly as he arrived.
Blink and you’ll miss him.
5. Joe Hart
On the face of it, signing an experienced, homegrown goalkeeper with over 100 Premier League clean sheets and multiple titles under his belt as a backup seemed fine.
When Joe Hart joined Spurs on a free transfer from Burnley in 2020, no one batted an eyelid. What could go wrong?
Hart made some horrible mistakes when called upon, but his biggest blunder came on his social media.
After Spurs were embarrassingly knocked out of the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb, Hart posted an Instagram story that read: “Job done.”
Hart was on the bench that game, so either he wasn’t paying attention, or just really wanted his team to lose.
The whole incident led to an awkward video ‘apology’ the next day. How has a backup keeper caused this kind of drama?
📱 Joe Hart’s apology after his social media team posted ‘job done’ thinking Tottenham had won 3-0 against Dinamo Zagreb.pic.twitter.com/Hw2hbWT6VN
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) March 19, 2021
4. Marko Arnautovic
The extra weird salvo to this is that Erik ten Hag wanted to bring Arnautovic to Manchester United in the year 2022.
The notorious bad boy, formerly of West Ham and Stoke, is technically a Champions League winner thanks to his brief stint at Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho.
A weird signing from the very beginning, as he joined the Italian giants on a loan deal from FC Twente, with an obligation to buy if he made enough appearances, but a new contract back in the Netherlands if he did not, Arnautovic arrived as an 18-year-old with the ego of Cristiano Ronaldo.
He played just three times in the league before Inter opted not to make the deal permanent. Mourinho stated that when they first met, Arnautovic claimed he was better than all of Inter’s senior strikers.
Those players happened to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hernan Crespo and Adriano. Mourinho was shocked, and after terminating his loan, claimed, “Marko is a fantastic guy, but he has the attitude of a child.”
“Mario Balotelli is his best friend and they just happen to have the same traits. It’s not easy.”
Balotelli and Arnautovic? What a double act that must’ve been in the dressing room.
3. Emmanuel Adebayor
Real Madrid had a striker crisis in January 2011. Gonzalo Higuain was injured and, for some baffling reason, Mourinho did not rate Karim Benzema.
The club looked at Miroslav Klose and tried to recall Ruud van Nistelrooy from his loan at Hamburg. Then, despite the board begging him not to, Mourinho signed Adebayor on a six-month loan from Manchester City.
Adebayor had been frozen out at City under Roberto Mancini, and was looking for a new club. He somehow ended up at one of the biggest clubs in the world.
To his credit, Adebayor didn’t do too badly, scoring eight goals in 22 appearances, but it wasn’t enough to convince Mourinho to activate his £15million option to buy, and he returned to England.
This signing ranks highly in the weird list, simply because we cannot believe anyone in their right mind would choose Adebayor over Benzema.
2. Gedson Fernandes
Mourinho wasn’t at Tottenham Hotspur for very long, but his 18 months there gave him enough time to make some peculiar signings, and Fernandes was one of them.
Signed on an initial 18-month loan from Benfica in January 2020, the Portuguese midfielder had many Tottenham fans questioning if he’d even kicked a ball before.
The loan was terminated after six months, 14 appearances, zero goals and one ridiculously soft shootout penalty as Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Norwich.
Not every Fernandes signed in January turns out like Bruno.
— Canary Cast (@CastCanary) August 26, 2020
1. Papy Djilobodji
Most of Mourinho’s weirdest signings came in his second spell at Chelsea, but this one surely tops the lot. Signed on deadline day in the summer of 2015, for around £4million from FC Nantes, Djilobodji got off to a bad start when he was left out of Chelsea’s Champions League squad the day after joining.
His only Chelsea appearance was as an injury-time substitute for Radamel Falcao in the League Cup, and he was never seen again before being loaned to Werder Bremen in January.
Some still doubt if he actually exists.