Ahh, weird transfers. They don't happen very often but when they do they are truly something to behold.

The first I can remember came back in 1994 when Jurgen Klinsmann swapped Monaco for a middling Tottenham Hotspur, a transfer that remains one of the strangest in British history. To have one of the true superstars of the game signing for a Premier League club full stop was a novelty in 1994, let alone for Tottenham. Sorry Tottenham.

We’ve pulled together 11 of the most unexpected and downright bizarre transfers and signings the game has ever seen. 


Paulinho - Guangzhou Evergrande > Barcelona > Guangzhou > Evergrande



Paulinho arrived at Tottenham for £17 million before departing two years later for just £10 million. A couple of strong seasons followed in the generally under-strengthened Chinese league, which seemed enough for Barca to splash a frankly mad €40 million on his services. Which somehow isn’t even the strangest part of the Paulinho saga. After two years and 34 games in Spain, Guangzhou purchased him back for €42 million. Definitely no funny business going on here. Not a chance. These days you can find him back in Brazil, playing (occasionally) for Corinthians


André-Pierre Gignac + Florian Thauvin - Marseille > Tigres



At the start of the 2010 season, Pierre Gignac signed for Marseille for roughly €16 million euros. After initially struggling to find his feet he really started to hit the ground running with 16 goals in 2013/14 before a truly impressive 21 league goals to again finish second top scorer in 2014/15. His form attracted suitors from all over Europe for his services, so at 29 and in the prime of his career he headed to Mexico in the summer of 2015. Six years later it was announced that former teammate and current Marseille captain, Florian Thauvin would be doing the same. To be fair, Gignac does seem to have been having a grand old time. 


Robert Jarni - Real Betis > Coventry



It’s fair to say there was a bit of a buzz around the city of Coventry in the summer of 1998. Irish shite peddlers B*Witched and Boyzone were dominating the charts, Titanic was the only movie in the world and their football team had just signed Europe’s most in demand full back. Except, the last one isn’t really true.

As it turned out Coventry were just part of an elaborate plot orchestrated by Spanish giants Real Madrid to sign a star player from one of its biggest rivals. After landing the full back for a measly £2.6 million from Real Betis, Coventry immediately turned around and agreed a £3.4 million transfer for Jarni to head to the Spanish capital. A shady piece of business but Coventry it was probably just nice to be involved.

These days, Jarni is the coach of the Croatia under-17 team. 


Edgar Davids Unattached > Barnet 



Living in north London in the winter of 2012, it’s fair to say there was an air of disbelief when it was announced, fairly out of the blue, that Champions League winner and all around legend of the game, Edgar Davids, would be signing on as player-manager at League two side Barnet.

While technically not a transfer due to the fact that it had been two years since he last turned out in professional football for Crystal Palace, the fact that Edgar Davids would be turning out at the dilapidated Underhill Stadium will always go down as one of the strangest sights in football.

At last winter's World Cup, Davids was back on the touchline coaching for the Dutch national team - quite a change of scene from his days at Barnet. 


John Collins out, Collins John in!



While not a remarkable transfer on its own, the 2004 signing of Liberian/Dutch striker Collins John for £600,000 did throw up one of the most remarkable coincidences English football has ever seen. 

While in no way a direct replacement, it was impossible to ignore the fact that Fulham had just let go of the services of Scottish international, John Collins. 

The cottagers even reportedly capitalised on coincidence with an on field photo-op before a preseason game.


Bebe - Vitória de Guimarães > Manchester United



The story of Bebé to United is not exactly under the radar, the tale goes that the Portuguese forward was the only player Sir Alex Ferguson allowed to be signed by Manchester United without personally having seen him in action. He was definitely the last.

Having been released by second division side Estrela da Amador, Bebé was picked up by Vitória de Guimarães in 2010. Five goals in six pre-season matches followed before United paid a not insignificant £7 million for his services. He played two official matches for the Red Devil’s before being sold to Benfica for a hefty loss.

He was last seen on loan at Real Zaragoza.

Ali Dia - Blyth Spartans > Southampton



Playing non-league football and attending university, Ali Dia pulled off undoubtedly English football's greatest con when over a single phone call he convinced Southampton manager, Graeme Souness, that he was the cousin of Ballon D’or winning superstar, George Weah. That, apparently, was enough for Souness who took him onboard on a one month contract and mere days later, threw him into action in a Premier League game against Leeds. Having been brought on as a substitute in the 35th minute, he was hooked in the 85th. His contract was not renewed.


Dong Fangzhuo - Dalian Shide > to Manchester United



While many may think the iconic Ji-Sung Park to have been the first East Asian footballer signed by Manchester United, that honour actually lies with Dong Fangzhuo. In arguably the most baffling career trajectory in history, the striker broke into football with a single season at Chinese second division outfit, Dalian Saidelong, for whom he scored two goals in 18 appearances.

This measly return somehow earned him a move to his country's biggest club at the time, Dalian Shide. Eight games and one goal later and he was on the move again, this time pitching up at arguably the biggest club in the world. Man United somehow paid half a million quid, with the potential for the sum to rise to three and a half millions, for his services, all despite knowing he would not be eligible for a work permit. An immediate loan to Royal Antwerp followed and he never once played a game in Manchester.

The Premier League giants were not out of pocket for the gamble signing, though, due to a clause inserted when they signed Fangzhuo. Dalian Shide agreed to refund United if they were not satisfied two years after the striker completed the move to Old Trafford. The flop moved back to his ex-club after leaving Manchester, and retired aged 29 after spells in Poland, Portugal and Armenia.


Fabio Borini - Sunderland > AC Milan



By the end of the 2016/17 season, it very much appeared Fabio Borini’s time anywhere near the top of the footballing pyramid was over. The season had seen him score just two goals in 26 appearances as his Sunderland team got relegated from the Premier League. However, while his teammates faced the prospect of tough away days at Burton Albion and Barnsley, Borini hopped on a plane to Milan. Signing for AC Milan on loan with a £5 million obligation to buy. It went about as well as expected, 51 games and 4 goals later he was out the door.

These days he plays in Turkey for Süper Lig club Fatih Karagümrük.

Read > 8 of the best AC Milan shirts


Julien Faubert - West Ham > Real Madrid



When West Ham signed Foubert from Bordeaux in the summer of 2007, it looked to be a pretty tidy piece of business. Unfortunately for the young Frenchman and the hammers however he would pick up a nasty pre-season injury that would sideline him for all but eight games in the lead up to the winter break. 

He obviously did something very right in those eight games, however, as on deadline day of the January transfer window, Real Madrid swooped in for his services, signing him up on a rest of the season loan. 

Two games for Madrid did not land him a permanent move and he returned to the hammers for a couple more genuinely decent seasons.


Ronnie O’Brien - Middlesbrough > Juventus 



Ronnie O’Brien’s signed with Premier League side Middlesbrough in 1997, though he unfortunately never quite cracked the first team in his two years at the club, with his release coming in 1999. 

It was at this point that Juventus scouting network inexplicably jumped at the chance of signing the youngster, and not to some month long contract, no, they were so sure they had their man that a FIVE year contract was deemed necessary. 

Needless to say it paid off as went on to form a near telepathic connection with fellow midfielder Zinedine Zidane as he placed an impressive eighth in the 2000 Ballon D’or voting. Just kidding, he never played an official game, still though, not a bad story to tell the grandkids.


Words by Andy Gallagher

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