The most controversial transfer of the summer has gone through, with former Chelsea and Arsenal defender William Gallas heading to White Hart Lane. It’s one that’s been rumbling round the rumour mill for some time now, but despite doubts about his wage demands, Spurs look determined to make the signing.
As Spurs fans battle with the ethical dilemma of having to get behind Gallas, let’s take a look back at some equally controversial transfers over the last 20 years.
Roberto Baggio Fiorentina to Juventus, 1990
Admittedly not a huge rivalry in Serie A, this one is more contentious because of the reaction of the Fiorentina fans. Baggio had attained a cult hero status in the five years he’d spent in Florence, and had enjoyed an excellent 1989-90 season, in which Fiorentina reached the final of the UEFA Cup, only to be beaten by Juventus. Fiorentina fans were not exactly happy, then, when Baggio was sold to Juve just before Italia ’90. So unhappy, in fact, that a riot broke out in Florence, leaving 50 people injured.
Lee Clark Newcastle to Sunderland, 1997
After coming through the youth ranks at Newcastle, and spending seven years in the first team, Lee Clark dropped down a division to play for arch-rivals Sunderland. He enjoyed a degree of success at the Stadium of Light, and was part of the side that won the old Division One in 1999, with a record 105 points. Clark’s spell there was cut short, however, when he was seen supporting Newcastle in the ’99 FA Cup Final. It’s an incident that could’ve been forgiven, if only he wasn’t sporting a Sunderland-baiting t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Sad Mackem Bastards’ at the time.
Luís Figo Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000
This was a transfer story that had everything: one of the biggest rivalries in world football, a then-record £37million fee … and a pig’s head. Transfers between rival clubs are always at their most controversial when they involve good players; and Figo was one of the best in the world at the time. His first return to the Nou Camp, in 2002, must’ve been more than a little intimidating for the Portuguese winger. Throughout the game, he was consistently pelted with missiles, including coins, golf balls, mobile phones and, at one point, a pig’s head. Unfortunately for him, he was pretty good at taking corners.
Sol Campbell Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001
Of course, this is the one that’s been brought up a lot recently in comparison to the Gallas deal. With Campbell’s contract running out at the end of the 2000-01 season, Spurs has expected him to sign a new deal, not least because of various public statements in which he stated that he’d be staying at White Hart Lane. With several top European sides expressing interest in him, Campbell suddenly decided that he wanted to play Champions League football, and of all those vying for his signature, he chose Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal. He’s been detested by the Spurs faithful ever since.
Carlos Tévez Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009
This is one that was more of a symbol of what was going on off the field rather than on it. City’s acquisition of the Argentina international came following a two-year loan at United; Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that Tévez was not worth the £25million it would’ve cost to make the deal permanent. City quickly snaffled him up, evidently believing themselves to have bought a player United couldn’t afford (couldn’t afford/didn’t want, make your own minds up), and promptly put up a large ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard in the city centre.
There’s a million and one transfers I’ve missed out here. What, for you, are some of the most controversial transfers that you can remember?
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience