REMEMBER Andy Carroll’s £35m move to Liverpool? Or a 20-year-old Jon Stead swapping Division Three Huddersfield for high-flying Blackburn in 2004?Every transfer window throws up moves that leaves eyebrows raised and gobs agape, either by the size of the fee of the sheer improbability of the switch. Who watching the World Cup in the summer of 2006 would have guessed that Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez would pitch up at Upton Park a month later?
So with the madness over for another few months, here are a handful of the strangest transfers down the years:
Torino - Grimsby (1995)
An Italian winger who’d spent the majority of his career in Serie A and played for Juventus and Sampdoria, Bonetti’s move to an English fishing outpost at the age of 31 was weird enough.
Odder still was the transfer itself. Because Bonetti was ‘owned’ by an American company with the rights to his services and image, FIFA regulations forbade the Mariners to pay the £100,000 fee themselves.
As a result, an appeal to fans raised £50,000, with Bonetti personally stumping up the remainder, meaning he essentially funded his own transfer!
Needless to say, the wide man was an instant hero and was even approached to become manager in 1998.
Barcelona - Charlton (1982)
Quite how the Addicks managed to attract a 30-year-old former European player of the Year still in peak condition is anyone’s guess.
Coveted by Juventus and Spurs, the Danish striker reportedly wanted a club with less ‘stress and attention’ after being forced out of Barcelona by the arrival of Diego Maradona.
He certainly lived up to his billing, marmalising the Second Division with nine goals in 13 games before Charlton realised they couldn’t afford his wages and sold him on to Danish club Vejle.
River Plate - Matra Racing Club Paris (1986)
Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest No.10s - and still Uruguay’s finest-ever player - Francescoli had rejected multiple entreaties to leave his beloved River Plate. Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, Milan - all had been rejected.
So you can imagine the astonishment when, just after the 1986 World Cup, the 25-year-old signed for a bunch of nouveaux-riche nobodies in the French second division.
Backed by the millions of owner Jean-Luc Lagardere, the side was packed with stars, intended to sweep to promotion and beyond. It failed miserably, wasting Francescoli’s best years in the process. To this day, ‘doing a Lagardere’ is Parisian slang for wasting money.
Real Betis - Coventry (1998)
Or the shortest transfer of all time. Coventry fans couldn’t believe it when Croatian World Cup star Jarni pitched up at Highfield Road in 1998 - and their scepticism was well founded.
The 30-year-old watched one pre-season match and promptly vanished, only to turn up a week later at the Bernabeu being paraded as Real Madrid’s latest signing.
Jarni insists he simply received an offer he couldn’t refuse and chose to keep his family in Spain. Conspiracy theorists claim the whole thing was a stitch up, with Betis unwilling to sell Jarni directly to Madrid.
Either way, given that he joined Coventry for £2.6m and left for £3.4m, it wasn’t a bad week’s business.