10 Years Ago Today: West Ham unveiled new signings Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. pic.twitter.com/2d6dsBk86x
— Uber West Ham (@UberWestHam) September 5, 2017
These are strange, strange times. With the world pretty much shutting down, with no sporting events to talk about or watch, it’s a wonder we haven’t all gone mad. But madness is an interesting talking point and while football’s on hold for a little while longer, we’ve delved into the archives to recall some of the strangest signings in English football. It’s fair to say the football forecasts could never have predicted any of these happening. They may have been moves that paid off, elevating players’ careers, or they could just be darn right bizarre – but we still talk about them. Here are our top five – let us know if you agree.
Julien Faubert (West Ham – Real Madrid)
Okay, so it may have only been a loan move, but it’s still one of the strangest signings ever. The Frenchman had hardly set the world alight at Upton Park, with injuries ravaging his time in East London, but even he was bemused at the news Los Blancos were calling. At his unveiling after the press conference, Real legend Alfredo di Stefano’s ghost-like expression says it all. He famously made two appearances (54 minutes worth of game time) for the Spanish giants, but will be remembered most for missing training and the time he allegedly fell asleep on the bench. Good enough for a place on our list anyway.
Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal – Juventus)
Yup, another loanee here – but still a very puzzling move. Arsenal fans were probably glad to be rid of him, but no doubt neutrals were scratching their heads, and Juve fans were certainly confused by the signing – after all, the Dane had previously been on loan at Sunderland. Arriving on a season-long loan, with the view to make the move permanent, it took over two months for the striker to make his first appearance and his time in Turin was marred by off-field controversies. By the time he returned to the line-up, Juventus had already sealed the title and needless to say, they chose not to make the move permanent so Bendtner returned to Arsenal.
Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan – Leicester City)
He was an Inter Milan legend, who spent a decade at the club, racking up over 400 appearances in all competitions, but Cambiasso arrived at the King Power Stadium on a free transfer. Used to the high life of Champions League football and five Scudettos, he wasn’t afraid of a new challenge, and it certainly was a different kind of challenge. Cambiasso spent just one year in English football and after the Foxes spent much of the season marooned in the drop-zone, Cuchu’s experience helped them fight tooth and nail to avoid the drop. Despite being offered a new contract, he rejected it and joined Greek club Olympiacos instead. Of course, we’re familiar with how Leicester’s following season panned out. If only he had signed on…
Edgar Davids (Free – Barnet)
There are plenty of cases of footballers making random moves, just see the example above. But having seemingly hung up his boots, after last playing for Crystal Palace in 2010, Edgar Davids returned to London and shocked the world – and football betting odds – by joining then-League Two Barnet in 2012. The former Juventus and Ajax man’s move was a strange one and it certainly put Barnet on the map, but not always for the right reasons. The player/manager made himself captain, assigning himself the number 1 jersey, taking it away from goalkeeper Graham Stack. He ordered that the players call him “Sir”, refused to travel to any of the away games that resulted in an overnight stay and he was booked in each of the first eight games he played – including three red cards. After retiring as a player in December 2013, claiming he was a target for referees, he resigned as manager a month later.
Carlos Tevez & Javier Mascherano (Corinthians – West Ham)
Not only one of the most bizarre signings ever, but one of the most controversial too – times two. Not only did the Argentine duo hit the headlines because many deemed them too good for the Hammers, who were likely candidates for relegation, but they also caused a stir because of their third-party ownership which was (and still is) against Premier League rules. We all know what happened next, their combined total of seven goals contributed to West Ham’s survival and instead, Sheffield United were relegated on the final day of the 2006-07 season. The Blades were never rightly reinstated but bounced back to the top-flight last year – and an out-of-court settlement ended the dispute.