Videos are circulating around several football sites showing Arsenal fans absolute discontent for the sale of Robin Van Persie to top four rivals Manchester united, including the burning of many shirts that bore their once fabled hero on the back.
It brings back a reminder of transfers in the years gone past of some of the most heated and controversial transfers to ever occur in the football world, displaying the absolute passion (perhaps overzealous at times) of the supporters who idolised their stars, just to see them turn their back for some of their greatest rivals.
- Robin Van Persie: Arsenal – Manchester United, £24 million 2012.
In what has become an all too familiar situation for Arsenal fans during their seven trophy-less years, another one of their top players in Robin Van Persie has headed up the north west towards Manchester. However, unlike recent seasons with Manchester City raiding the club, this time it’s the red side in Manchester United who have stripped the Gunners of their talisman.
What makes this particularly heartbreaking for Arsenal fans in comparison to previous transfers to City, is just how valuable the forward was to their club. After many seasons being unable to consistently start for Arsenal due to a succession of injuries, Van Persie finally came of age last season, scoring an incredible 37 goals in all competitions.
After one good season Van Persie stated a lack of ambition from the Arsenal board and claimed he would not renew his contract, this apparent philosophy of his was unwaivered, despite Arsene Wenger making ambitious signings in Carzola, Giroud, and Podolski, eventually moving to a club that is widely considered to be one Arsenals most historic rivals. With many fans burning their Van Persie shirts in frustration, they can only hope that his phenomenal form last season was just like his fitness record before that, temporary.
- Harry Redknapp: Portsmouth – Southampton, 2004.
Not all controversial transfers in football are player related, with the most recent example being that of Harry Redknapp, one of the most well known and enigmatic managers to ever ply his trade in football, Harry had guided Portsmouth back to the Premier League in 2003, and was set to guide them to maintain a long term status in the top flight.
However, as has become accustomed with Redknapp, controversial circumstances with the chairman Milan Mandaric mid-way through the 2004/2005 season led to his departure from the coastal club, with his following appointment being what no-one would have expected, taking over the managerial reigns of Portsmouth’s arch rivals Southampton a few weeks later. Never has a manager been able to stir up the wrath of the fans as Redknapp did when he joined the Saints at the time, evident as Pompey fans created shirts and held up signs signalling ‘Judas’ and ‘Scummer.’
- Luis Figo: Barcelona – Real Madrid, £37 million, 2000
Are you a vegetarian? Don’t like the thoughts of animals being thrown around? Hopefully you didn’t watch El Classico in November 2002, where a pigs head was famously thrown at Luis Figo by Barcelona fans.
Once a figure of admiration and dedication amongst the Catalans. The first, most controversial transfer of the new decade was that of Luis Figo moving to Real Madrid, a move that still brings out bitter contempt from the Barcelona faithful. This still remains one of footballs most heated transfers in history.
Adored by the Catalan faithful, Luis Figo was the core of the Barcelona team of the late 90’s. Producing scintillating form that would turn him into one of the worlds greatest midfielders of all time, being awarded the captains armband and helping the club win two successful La Liga titles in 1998 and 1999. It seemed he could do no wrong in the eyes of his loving fans.
However, with rumours of a secret deal being struck by Figo and Madrid presidential hopeful Florentino Perez, and the subsequent transfer almost a week later to Madrid for a then world record of £37 million pounds, this transfer remains one of, if not La Ligas most controversial to date, as the message that same season from the heartbroken fans stated: “We hate you so much, because we loved you so much”.
- Carlos Tevez: Manchester United – Manchester City, 2009.
While Tevez was technically only on loan at Manchester, his displays at Old Trafford endeared him to the fans, with his tireless work ethic and spectacular goals, and took him to their hearts. However, such admiration was shattered when he became the first player since Terry Cooke in 1999 to switch over to the blue half of Manchester.
Such an act would automatically cause uproar from the Red Devil support, and Tevez certainly hasn’t endeared himself any further to Manchester United fans, nor some city fans either with his constant off the field antics continuing to spark controversy. This includes his recent outbursts of a R.I.P Fergie banner after Manchester City’s historical title win last season. As new season rolls near, Tevez is certain to ignite more controversial comments between his former club and current employers.
- Sol Campbell: Tottenham Hotspur – Arsenal, Bosman, 2001.
Still considered one of the most controversial, and historical transfers in football history. The free transfer of Tottenham hero Sol Campbell to arch rivals Arsenal in 2001, remains one of the most highly talked about and bitter subjects in football.
The lynch pin of Spurs defence for the latter half of the 90’s. Sol Campbell was revered by the Tottenham fans for his never say die attitude on the pitch, and his seemingly unquestionable loyalty to the club. With the still fresh ‘Bosman ruling’ that allowed players to move to another club for free with no compensation, and with Campbells contract running out in 2001. Spurs made the move to offer Sol a contract that would make him the highest paid player at the club in its history.
What happened next forever, still remains etched in the memory of every football fan around at the time, and certainly to the heartbroken Spurs fans. Sol Campbell, a player who once cited he would never play for Arsenal, did exactly that in the summer of 2001, moving to the Gunners for free in order to play Champions League football, despite interest from many clubs abroad who vied for his signature. This single act turned him for hero, to pariah in an instant amongst the Tottenham faithful, their once unified praise for him turning into a campaign of vitriol and disgust for their former defender.
From that point on, Sol Campbell was labelled a ‘Judas’ by Spurs fans, who years later, were still unable to forgive the ultimate sin to them, betraying his own promise to play for their most historic rivals, making this one of the most controversial transfer amongst fans of all time.
What other transfers sparked controversy and the antagonism of supporters? Are they worse than the ones listed above? Leave your comments below.