Most controversial transfers in Premier League history feat. Manchester United and Arsenal deals
After part one, we conclude with part two in the most controversial transfers in the history of the Premier League…
“It was a little difficult but at the end of the day it’s a game,” Emmanuel Adebayor said about his departure from Arsenal to Manchester City. “I wish them the best of luck though. No matter what happens they will always be in my heart because I love the club.”
While the road from the Emirates to the Etihad is now a well-trodden one with the likes of Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna having walked it in recent years, back in 2009 it was a new one.
City had recently been bought by their new owners and they were spending money on just about any footballer with a reputation and two working feet. Arsenal and their fans never thought that they would be able to lure one of their star players though – but that’s exactly what they did.
Adebayor had established himself as one of the best strikers in the league over the 2007/2008 season where he notched 30 goals, and despite a quiet follow-up year, Mark Hughes had been impressed enough to spend a large amount on the Togo international.
Two months later he came up against his former club for the first time and there was certainly no signs of the affection he talked about upon leaving. He infamously stomped on Robin Van Persie’s face during the match and was later given a three-match suspension for the ugly incident.
Barely a month later and the clubs met again with Adebayor once more taking centre stage. The animosity between former fans and the player was there to see from the offset, as he was subjected to repeated verbal abuse from the travelling section.
Adebayor scored a late winner though and embarked on a length of the field sprint over to the away end where he celebrated in front of the Arsenal fans. The gesture earned him a fine and a suspended two game ban, however the striker was unapologetic.
“There is only so much abuse a man can take until he reaches breaking point. I could not understand some of the players being disrespectful towards me. I was being abused by people who six months ago were singing my name,” he stated.
Adebayor’s move was a rare case where the transfer actually became controversial after the fact.
“Remember the name Wayne Rooney,” an ecstatic Clive Tyldesley shouted as the 16-year old came off the bench to score a wonder goal against Arsenal back in 2002.
That moment is now etched into the very fabrics of British football as it marked the arrival of one of England’s greatest ever hopes. Because of this, it wasn’t long before the big clubs came knocking for the highly-rated striker.
Manchester United let him know of their interest in the summer of 2004 and the teenager subsequently put in a transfer request, two years after his breakthrough moment at his boyhood club. From there the situation escalated quickly as the Goodison Park crowd turned on the 18-year old they once called their own.
He had earlier spurned the offer of a contract extension which was met with chants of him being a “greedy b*****d” a week before his eventual departure. While his agent Paul Stretford arranged an ill-advised interview with The Sun newspaper which was understandably met with derision on Merseyside.
Finally, as the transfer deadline window drew to a close, the man who once revealed a T-shirt that read “Once a Blue, always a Blue”, got his move. He became the most expensive teenage footballer in the world at that time. And 12 years on, he still plays for Manchester United having won just about every trophy and honour there is in the game.
“I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard,” Ashley Cole famously wrote in his book.
The passage wasn’t about social injustices he’d overheard though, it was actually in response to Arsenal’s new contract offer to him. The England left-back promptly swerved his car to remain on the road before he rejected the offer. He then moved across town to join their rivals Chelsea.
The move brought him the nickname of “Cashley” Cole, due to his supposed greed and affection for a heftier wage packet, and the inevitable fan fall-out followed.
His first meeting with his old club in 2006 was certainly one that didn’t pass by without incident. He was booked for a late challenge mid-way through the first half sparking a melee, while the travelling fans also threw fake money at him.
An important part of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” season in 2004, it is fair to say the left-back didn’t exactly endear himself to the club when he was fined just a year later by the FA for engaging in transfer talks with Chelsea without his clubs permission.
A year later he would eventually play in the blue shirt though, where he went on to claim an impressive trophy haul including; Premier League titles, FA Cup’s and a Champions League.
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