Football Features

Famous players who made transfer U-turns shortly after making everyone think they’d stay

By Squawka News

Published: 14:12, 15 May 2019 | Updated: 16:47, 14 September 2021

Loyalty is a funny old thing in football. Players are expected to have it by default, but teams can be as ruthless as they like when dealing with players.

This unfair situation often results in a lot of fans being heavily critical of players that choose to leave certain clubs, while being overly enamoured with those that choose to stay regardless of their quality.

Players that leave clubs, even if for very understandable reasons (and yes a pay rise is among those, who wouldn’t want to do their job elsewhere for more money?) often get demonised, and that’s ridiculous.

Yet sometimes, you have to understand fan outrage. Sometimes players manipulate the fans with open declarations of loyalty, statements that indicate they’re not going anywhere, only for them to turn around and very much go somewhere.

We here at Squawka have collated 10 such fellows. Players who appeared to promise fans one thing and then delivered something else entirely.

Who are these 10 deceivers? Read on and find out!

Antoine Griezmann

Left: Atletico Madrid (confirmed for this summer)

For: TBD

The pledge“I have decided to stay. I feel there are things to do with Atletico. At Barcelona, I would just be one more.”

Just under a year ago Griezmann announced to the world that he was staying at Atletico Madrid amid Barcelona interest, releasing footage on social media of himself just standing with a big grin in front of the Wanda Metropolitano – as far as scripted PR videos go, this was right up there with Alexis Sanchez’s piano-playing exploits.

Griezmann also marked the occasion – and his bumper new contract – by declaring love for ‘his home’, saying that he “will not regret” extending his stay in the Spanish capital. Well, fast forward less than a year, and the Frenchman may very well regret that decision now, as he has released another video, saying he’s off, with Barca likely to sign him – so much for ‘being just one more’.

It’s incredible how fast football moves forward…

Luis Figo

Left: Barcelona

For: Real Madrid

The pledge: “I want to reassure fans that Luis Figo, with all the certainty in the world, will be at the Camp Nou on July 24 to start the season.”

Where to start but with the O.G. Judas.

Figo had won the Camp Nou’s love with his swashbuckling displays and was even made captain. And when Real Madrid rumours surfaced, Figo swore to Barcelona fans he’d stay.

Well, he didn’t. Barcelona fans were incensed and the hatred against him was so strong that they even threw a pig’s head at him when he returned to the Camp Nou with Real Madrid.

Cesc Fabregas

Left: Arsenal

For: Barcelona

The pledge“I’m very happy where I am. If I said anything else to you I would be lying. I’m an Arsenal player, we have a great team and a great coach.”

Arsenal fans had been fearing the young Catalan’s return “home” basically since the moment he debuted and turned out to be pretty special. But Cesc reassured them with soothing words, insisting he had no desire to leave his new home. But then he had a massive sulk all of summer 2011 and forced the move through, and as if that wasn’t bad enough there was worse to come.

Luis Suarez

Left: Liverpool

For: Barcelona

The pledge: “I signed the contract because I love it here and I’m so happy here. If you’re not happy here you don’t sign any contract.”

Luis Suarez signed a mammoth contract midway through 2013/14 while he was busy dominating the Premier League. He was linked with big money moves abroad but assured Liverpool fans he was happy at Anfield. Then a couple months later he was a Barcelona player.

Sure he’ll say the fallout over the bite during Uruguay’s World Cup clash against Italy influenced his decision, but he’s since admitted that Barca was always his dream. What gives, Luis?


Left: Milan

For: Real Madrid

The pledge: “I don’t want anything else, I just want to be well and be happy in the place where people love me. Milan is my home, where I am close to and where my heart really is.”

Kaka swore up and down that he was never going to leave Milan because only Milan could love him and this was his new home and many more such things. Six months later he was being presented as a Real Madrid player with a big ol’ smile on his face.

Kaka pledged his soul to Jesus and his body to Milan. At least he kept one of those promises, eh?

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Sol Campbell

Left: Spurs

For: Arsenal

The pledge: “I’m staying.”

Sol Campbell was a god to Spurs fans. And rightly so. Here was a miraculous defender who had pace, power and a precision technique that made him nearly unstoppable. As he approached the end of his contract he was linked with all sorts of clubs, but insisted he was staying.

Of course, had he left for Barcelona as he was linked with doing maybe the Spurs fans would have forgiven the lies. But no, he went to bitter rivals Arsenal, and Spurs fans still aren’t over it.

Emmanuel Adebayor

Left: Arsenal

For: Manchester City

The pledge: “Next season, 100%, I am an Arsenal footballer.”

Emmanuel Adebayor looked like a player ready to elevate his game to the top-tier in the summer of 2008, but in the 2008/09 season he stagnated. Still, he literally promised Arsenal he’d stay with them (presumably to right the wrongs of that season) and then, didn’t. This move led to avalanches of vitriol heading his way, but it also gave us possibly the best goal celebration ever.

Dimitar Berbatov

Left: Spurs

For: Manchester United

The pledge: “I just want to say that I am here, I am happy here and I will help the club in any way I can. I have a contract and I will give my best.”

Dimitar Berbatov is a lovely footballer and, ostensibly a lovely man too. So quite why he lied so blatantly to Spurs is a mystery, but after telling them he’d help in any way he could he then played the Manchester clubs against each other like Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo and ended up signing for United.

Fabian Delph

Left: Aston Villa

For: Manchester City

The pledge: “I’m not leaving. I’m staying at the football club and I can’t wait for the start of the season and captaining this great football club.”

Quite possibly the most earnest lie ever. You really believed Fabian Delph when he promised to not only stay at Villa but captain them out as the new season began. It was hard to doubt him, he seemed so genuine.

Then, of course, he wasn’t, joining City literally one week later. Oh dear.

Thibaut Courtois

Left: Chelsea

For: Real Madrid

The pledge: “I’m committed to Chelsea. I have a contract until next year and I will be here. I will do my best for it.”

With Courtois’ constant back and forth over his future, it is no suprise that many Chelsea fans refused to believe this statement about his future.

And they were right to doubt him – just over a year on from making this promise about his future, Courtois is now between the sticks at the Santiago Bernabeu, his time at Chelsea now becoming a blur in his rear-view mirror.

And there certainly is no love lost between Courtois and his former club, as the ex-Genk gloveman is still regarded as a ‘snake’ in west London after a twitter post thanking fans last year was met with a wave of emojis in the comments section of the slithering reptilian – forcing the post to be deleted.