There are many explanations as to why football clubs sign new players: improving the squad, bolstering academy prospects, rejuvenating the fanbase, boosting Harry Redknapp’s dog’s bank balance…
Some transfers, however, simply have to be labelled “f*cking weird”. The latest addition in a litany of examples comes from Wayne Rooney, who announced out of nowhere he’ll be ending an 18-month stint at DC United in January in order to take up a player-coach role at Derby.
This got us thinking: what other transfers have left the football world similarly bemused over the years?
Dozens jumped to mind (most of Stoke’s recruitment in the past five years would’ve filled this list out perfectly well), but here are 10 of the very strangest…
10. Bebe (Vitória de Guimarães to Manchester Utd, 2010)
Where else could we possibly start? The Red Devils splashed out £7.5m on the Portuguese, presumably purely on the basis that he once said he played like Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even Sir Alex admitted he had never seen him play.
He clearly realised his mistake once he had done, however, and promptly shipped him on loan for three years.
9. Julien Faubert (West Ham to Real Madrid, 2009)
Real Madrid are famed for raiding the world’s biggest clubs in order to build a team of superstars – so we can only assume they were playing a practical joke on us all when they snapped up Hammers flop Julien Faubert on loan.
The part-time move was a full-time disaster, with Faubert “accidentally” missing training and even falling asleep on the bench during one game.
After just two La Liga appearances, he was sent packing back to London.
8. Allan Simonsen (Barcelona to Charlton Athletic, 1982)
The 1977 Ballon d’Or winning striker found himself ostracised at the Nou Camp after the club signed some fella called Diego Maradona.
Wanting out, the Dane turned down offers from Real Madrid and Spurs in order to sign for Second Division Charlton Athletic.
To put that into context, it’d be like Lionel Messi heading to south-east London this summer. Yeah, weird, right?
7. Roberto Mancini (Lazio to Leicester, 2001)
After an illustrious career in his native Italy, the 36-year-old made an odd move to the East Midlands on loan in January 2001.
He failed to complete 90 minutes in any of his five appearances for the club and left after just a month in order to take up his first managerial role at Fiorentina.
6. Fabrizio Ravanelli (Derby to Dundee, 2003)
As if moving from Champions League-winning Juventus to Middlesborough wasn’t a strange enough decision, the White Feather upped the ante in 2003 to sign for Dundee.
It wasn’t the happiest of times for Ravanelli, whose contract was cancelled after just six appearances as the club fell into administration with debts of £23m.
Still, we bet he treasures that Scottish League Cup hat-trick against Clyde to this very day.
5. Edgar Davids (Crystal Palace, 2010)
The bespectacled Dutchman hadn’t laced up his boots for two years when the Championship-dwelling Eagles made the interesting decision to hand him a contract at the start of the 2010/11 season.
Their creative transfer policy didn’t pay off – Davids left after just three months – although he bizarrely still claims his time at the club was “one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
4. Tyrone Mears (Derby to Marseille, 2008)
The story behind this one is as comical as the transfer itself.
After being told there was no chance he’d be allowed to leave the Rams, Mears literally escaped out of a window at the club’s training ground, crawled past manager Paul Jewell’s office to pick up his boots, and then flew to the south of France for a trial with Marseille.
Mears eventually got his way in the shape of a year-long loan, but had a torrid time in France and was sold to Burnley on his return to England.
3. Steven Caulker (QPR to Liverpool, 2016)
We all know Jurgen Klopp is a footballing maverick. But even his most ardent fans were left scratching their heads when he decided to sign centre-back Caulker on loan, just weeks after seeing him feature in Southampton’s defence as they were battered 6-1 by his Liverpool side.
Nobody could understand why, until Klopp unveiled his greatest ever tactical innovation: deploying the Englishman as an auxiliary striker off the bench.
To be fair, it paid off as Caulker caused chaos in the Reds’ 5-4 victory over Norwich. Still, what a curious episode this was.
2. Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano (Corinthians to West Ham, 2006)
The arrival of the Argentinian duo to the Premier League proved to be one of the most controversial events in Premier League history.
The Hammers flagrantly ignored third-party ownership rules when they “bought” Tevez and Mascherano from their agent, Kia Joorabchian, and ended up getting fined £5.5m for the pleasure.
Not that West Ham particularly cared: Carlos Tevez’s goal on the final day kept them up at Sheffield United’s expense, leaving the Blades’ gaffer Neil Warnock apoplectic. In fact, just that alone is worth the fine if you ask us.
1. Sol Campbell (Portsmouth to Notts County, 2009)
You’d think walking out of a game at half-time and going home in your full kit, as he allegedly did during his time at Arsenal, would be the craziest thing Sol’s ever done in football. But you’d be wrong.
How about signing a five-year contract at League Two side Notts County after being duped by the club’s supposed billionaire new owners, before having your contract cancelled by mutual consent after just one appearance?
Yep, that takes the bizarre biscuit alright.