Football transfers largely follow the same route: Team A pays team B money for player X; the latter agrees personal terms with team B; and the deal is complete. Finis.
However, transfers go beyond players exchanging clubs or money changing hands.
Because they involve humans, transfers have the potential to bring up many emotions.
In this article, we consider the transfers that brought up a particular emotion – shock.
Yes, we will discuss the football transfers that were so shocking that they left everyone asking, “How did that happen?”
#5: Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea)
Chelsea fans have fond memories of Fernando Torres scoring a dramatic last-minute goal against Barcelona in 2012, and sending them to the Champions League final, which they eventually won.
But Torres had arrived the club in near acrimonious circumstances. Prior to his arrival at Chelsea, he had been at EPL rivals Liverpool.
The latter was rebuilding after sacking head coach Roy Hodgson, with Torres set to play a key role in the new-look team.
It is likely they never expected their star man to demand a move elsewhere.
But Torres did on Jan. 27, 2011 when he handed in a transfer request.
To their credit, Liverpool was resolute in demanding a large fee to let Torres leave.
Chelsea ended up paying €50 million for the forward, making it the most expensive transfer in Premier League history at the time.
Given the timing and price of the transfer, it’s easy to see why it was equal parts shocking and interesting.
The Torres that played at Chelsea was a different man from the winger that had terrified defenses at Liverpool.
Thus, we can say Chelsea may have missed its investment in the Spaniard.
Nevertheless, he did score that goal against the almighty Barcelona in the Champions League, and that makes up for everything, in our opinion.
#4: Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid)
Imagine you are the best player in the world.
You are talented and the fans love you: they chant your name during games and think you are the best thing since sliced bread.
Why would you abandon all that and move away?
Well, someone – Luis Filipe Madeira Caeiro Figo – did that in 2001.
Coming off the back of league win, Figo was a great player loved by Barcelona fans.
Then he signed for Barcelona’s biggest rival, Real Madrid, and all hell broke loose.
No transfer has received to so much drama, controversy, and attention.
The media deliberately overplayed the entire thing, running sensational headlines on the story of Figo’s transfer.
Not that we can blame them, it’s not every time a player swaps the Red and Blue of Catalonia for the White of Madrid.
The player’s return to Camp Nou three months later may well be the most hostile match he had ever played.
Barcelona fans screamed “Die Figo!” and launched missiles at the Portuguese maestro; coins, mobile phones, bricks, even a pig’s head.
Figo would go on to be among the few players to win the La Liga with both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Still, the feat had cost him a lot, affecting him in many ways.
The effects had spilled into his personal life, with his forced to close her Japanese restaurant in Barcelona over threats from fans.
However, Figo, now retired, now reflects on that period with fondness.
“In the moment, one sees that it is a unique experience,” he said in an interview with Bleacher Report.
“I don’t think there’s another athlete that has played with a hundred-thousand-something crowd against him. It’s good to remember that.”
#3: Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal)
When Sol Campbell moved to Arsenal in 2001, he was the first Tottenham player to do so in 26 years. Naturally, the departure of a star player to a rival generates loads of shock and anger and this was no different.
Spurs’ fans were shocked at first, and then they got angry which was understandable, considering that Campbell had made over 300 appearances for the club.
The fans hounded Campbell; they abused him and called him all sorts of unprintable names.
However, Campbell got the last laugh, winning three trophies in his time at the Gunners.
He was also part of the Arsenal “Invincibles” team that went unbeaten en route to a league win in 2003.
#2: David Beckham (Real Madrid to LA Galaxy)
Back in 2007, America’s Major League Soccer was hardly the popular league it is currently.
It was, to many, just some random league out there.
So, imagine fans’ surprise when Beckham, ranked among the world’s best players at the time, chose to sign for MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy.
Why would anyone even think of leaving Real Madrid for a virtually unknown club?
Did the transfer pay off for both parties?
We say each party got what it wanted.
LA Galaxy won two MLS cups during Beckham’s stay while the English forward became the face of the MLS for many years.
#1: Neymar Jr. (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain)
This transfer takes the double honor of being the most controversial and the most expensive in football history.
Having moved from Santos to Barcelona for 70 million euros, Neymar was the ideal candidate to replace Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
And he had certainly done enough to encourage such thoughts, leading Barca to a La Liga title and Champions League cup within his first two years at the club.
However, news broke in 2017 of a possible Neymar move away from Barcelona.
Many took the information with a pinch of salt; after all, what club was willing to pay the Brazilian’s €222 million buyout clause?
Alas, one club did – French side Paris Saint-Germain. Backed by Qatari billions, PSG were willing to trigger Neymar’s release clause if it meant getting one of the world’s best players on the team.
Money – 222 million euros, to be exact – changed hands and Neymar left Barca for PSG in what is now the most expensive transfer in history.
While the Blaugrana faithful didn’t react to it the way they did to Figo’s transfer, there was palpable anger at the departure of Neymar.
Many branded him a “sell-out” and even the La Liga authorities expressed displeasure at the transfer.
Neymar hasn’t returned to the Camp Nou since leaving there in 2017.
But we doubt he will receive a warm welcome.
He may not get the infamous Figo treatment but he sure will receive a lot of boos from the raucous Camp Nou supporters.
Better get some ear buds, buddy.
We hope you enjoyed reading our rundown of the most shocking transfers in football history.
Do you have any other transfers that you think are even more shocking than the ones on our list? Share them with us in the comments.