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Seven surprising signings following Jackson Martinez’s move to China

| 04.02.2016

Robbie Purves | February 3, 2016

Jackson Martinez cut short his stay in Madrid for the riches of sprawling port city, Guangzhou.

The Colombian joined Atletico last July from Porto for €35m but struggled to find his goalscoring form, netting only three times in 15 appearances.

Martinez’s shock transfer to Guangzhou Evergrande for €42m (£32m) sets a new Asian football transfer record and is set to meet up with his new teammates at their winter training camp in Dubai.

Striker Martinez will join former Spurs midfielder Paulinho and Felipe Scolari at Guanghzou, who sit two points clear at the top of the Chinese Super League. The nation’s transfer window remains open until February 26th, so more stars could be on the way to a league that seems more popular than the MLS for stars looking for an adventure out of Europe.

As the news of Martinez’s transfer shook the football world, we look at seven other transfers that did likewise…

Robinho to Man City, 2008

Soccer - Robinho Filer

The Brazilian’s transfer to Manchester City was very much a symbol of a new age at the club. On September 1st, 2008, the final day of the Premier League transfer window, Robinho completed a £33m move to Man City from Real Madrid on a four-year deal. This was the same day the club was bought by the Arab investment company, Abu Dhabi United Group.

Having previously expressed his desire to play in London, Manchester was the city he decided upon. But a few years after the transfer, it was revealed he thought he was joining Manchester United instead of City. Two years later he left trophy-less; nevertheless, he was adored by Citizens fans.

Thomas Gravesen to Real Madrid, 2005

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - Second Leg - Arsenal v Real Madrid - Highbury

The Danish hard-man was a fan favourite at Everton and played a key role in their 2004/05 campaign towards the top of the table. With his contract due to expire in the summer of 2005, enabling him to leave on a free, he joined Real Madrid for a surprisingly low fee of £2.5m.

Gravesen was signed to fill a hole in Real’s defensive midfield and found immediate success in his first few games, playing impressively and scoring a goal against Espanyol. However, after can outcry over his tough style of play, Gravesen found himself benched and looked set to leave. New coach Lopez Caro revived his career and picked him regularly but, following a scuffle with Robinho and other behaviour issues, the Dane left in August 2006 with 34 domestic appearances.

Bebe to Manchester United, 2010

Soccer - Carling Cup - Third Round - Scunthorpe United v Manchester United - Glanford Park

On August 11th, 2010, only five weeks after he signed for Vitoria de Guimaraes, Man Utd agreed an undisclosed fee with the Portuguese club for the transfer of Bebe, which later was revealed to be around £7.4m. Signed on the recommendation of respected coach Carlos Queiroz, the fee included an agent payment of around £2m which was later subject to an investigation.

It was quickly established that United had been sold a player inferior to that of what they had been told, Bebe struggled very visibly to compete at the Premier League level. In his four-year career with the Red Devils he made two domestic appearances, being loaned out to three different teams. Bebe now plays in La Liga for Rayo Vallecano.

Carlos Tevez to West Ham United, 2006

Soccer - West Ham Press Conference - Upton Park, East London.

On August 23rd 2006, it was reported that Tevez was refusing to play for Corinthians and eight days later, both Tevez and Javier Mascherano signed for West Ham for an undisclosed fee. The Argentines’ move to the Hammers hit the headlines, firstly because they both seemed too good for the relegation-threatened east Londoners, secondly, because of their illegal third party ownership.

Tevez’s goals resulted in West Ham’s survival and the relegation of Sheffield United. The Hammers were fined £5m and agreed £18m compensation to the Blades. Tevez left in 2007 to Manchester United where he won numerous titles including the 2008 Champions League.

Juninho Paulista to Middlesbrough, 1995

SOCCER Juninho award

Capped 49 times for Brazil, Juninho signed for Middlesbrough for £4.75 million in October 1995, just months after being promoted to the top flight. Juninho had been tracked by major European clubs and was a huge shock when he went to the Teessiders.

Juninho was a star for Boro and was pivotal in them reaching the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1997. Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the 1997 season, Juninho was reduced to tears.

He was nicknamed ‘The Little Fella’ by fans and was known for playing football in the streets with local kids. Juninho was a cult hero and considered one of Middlesbrough’s greatest ever players. He was persuaded to leave Boro to pursue his chances of making the 1998 Brazilian World Cup squad, joining Atletico Madrid in 1997.

Luis Figo to Real Madrid, 2000

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Real Madrid v Barcelona

Figo was adored by Barcelona fans both for his excellent skill and his support for Catalonia. However, his move to arch rivals Real Madrid soured their relationship.

In July 2000, Figo made the shocking and controversial move for £37m, a world record fee at the time and the start of the Galactico Era. The hatred from his former admirers peaked at the infamous 2002 clasico in which a pig’s head was thrown onto the pitch.

Figo won the Ballon d’Or the same year he move to Madrid, largely for what he did at Barcelona – where he became the world’s best. Barcelona fans will never forgive him for the move to Real and saw it as a betrayal. The Portuguese lifted seven major trophies at Real Madrid including one Champions League.

Fernando Hierro to Bolton Wanderers, 2004

Fernando Hierro new signing

Capped 89 times for Spain and more than 450 times for Real Madrid, Hierro signed for Bolton Wanderers from Al Rayyan on the recommendation of Steve McManaman. During his time at Real Madrid, Hierro won three Champions Leagues and five La Liga titles but left Los Blancos in 2003 for Qatari side Al Rayyan.

After just one year, Hierro returned to Europe with Bolton, teaming up with former teammate Ivan Campo. Despite a fan outcry and Sam Allardyce’s best efforts to pursued him to stay on for another campaign, Hierro retired in 2005 – playing 29 games for the side.


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Robbie Purves