The drama of the world game does not stop when the season ends. For many, this period is the most exciting time of the year when teams try to enhance their squad for the new season. Invariably, this can lead to a lot of bad blood between fans, players, agents, managers and chairmen. Wherever you stand on such skullduggery, it is difficult to argue that it is anything other than entertaining. In no particular order, we decided to look back on a few of the more memorable transfer sagas of recent years.
STEVIE G AGREES TO JOIN THE SPECIAL ONE
Shake on it pal! Steven Gerrard helped Liverpool knock Jose Mourinho's Chelsea out of the Champions League on their way to winning the trophy with a dramatic victory over AC Milan on penalties in the final in 2005. Mourninho looked set to get his own back by landing the Liverpool skipper less than two months later: Gerrard apparently rejected a four-year deal worth £100,000-a-week at Liverpool, only to change his mind and commit to the Reds a day later.
OUTCOME: No £32 million deal for Gerrard, no move to Chelsea. No more Jose at Chelsea. Gerrard is likely to see out his playing days at Anfield.
KAKA'S WORLD RECORD MOVE TO MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City would become a great advertisment for 'Brand Abu Dhabi'. They wanted to market the capital of the United Arab Emirates as a place of class and dignity rather than a spot in the world where people are fixated with the crude act of showing off their petrodollars. Well, at least that was the idea when Sheikh Mansour decided to pick up the tab for Manchester's second most successful club in 2008. That notion was quickly scuppered when City's questionable chief executive Garry Cook and his cronies embarked on an ill-advised wild goose chase to bring Kaka to Eastlands from AC Milan at the outset of 2009. A bid of £100 million and a weekly wage packet of £500,000 was not enough to persuade the Brazilian to leave the San Siro. Kaka said: "I don't want to change anything. All my messages said 'choose with the heart' and that has been the decision. It is not about money. I don't want to change anything". Kaka rejected the move, and City were left looking cheap, tasteless and silly as they discovered money can't buy them love nor the world. So much for Abu Dhabi bringing class to the Premier League. Kaka currently resides at Real Madrid.
LUIS FIGO SWAPS BARCA FOR LOS GALACTICOS
At the peak of his powers, Luis Figo had it all. Part of Portugal's 'golden generation', Figo was the European Footballer of the Year, sported dramatic good looks, boasted two feet that could beat players inside a telephone box and had two of the biggest clubs in world football fighting over him. Signed by Barca coach Johan Cruyff for just over £2 million in 1995, the midfielder won a European Cup Winners' Cup and a couple of Spanish titles before Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid decided he would be better off at the Bernabeu. Figo helped Real to a couple of Spanish titles and a Champions League, but Barca fans did not take kindly to this act of betrayal as Figo was pelted with several objects, including a pig's head, upon his return to Camp Nou with Real in 2002.
OUTCOME: Figo was officially the world's best player in 2001 and is the most capped player in Portugal's history with 127 appearances. He finished a golden career with four Serie A medals at Internazionale, but his career was defined by his contribution to Barca and Real. Makes some money on the side by working for Just for Men these days, but was just the job as a player. Also married to a Swedish model. Does life get any better?
THE INCREDIBLE SULK ENGINEERS REAL MOVE
Where do you start with Nicolas Anelka? Well, at the start. Having been picked up by Arsene Wenger for £500,000 from Paris Saint-Germain in 1997, l'enfant terribles was a key component of Arsenal's success in winning the Double of the Premier League and FA Cup in 1998. Life at Arsenal began to go wrong a year later when his side lost the Premier League amid speculation Anelka had gone on strike due to his desire for a fatter wage packet. With fans branding him 'Le Sulk' it was little surprise to see him flogged to Real Madrid for £22 million in 1999.
OUTCOME: Attitude problems have dogged Anelka's career. He was suspended for over a month by Real Madrid for refusing to train, and became unsettled when he returned to PSG. He also had spells at Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton, but appears to have recaptured his early promise at Chelsea, a club where he has already spent the longest period of his career having signed from Bolton in 2008. Three years is a lifetime in the career of the roving French forward.
CARLOS TEVEZ BEING LOYAL TO WHOEVER IS PAYING HIM
Carlos Tevez's attitude on the park can never be questioned. It is the stuff away from the main arena that muddies his reputation as a reliable figure. In an era dominated by large swathes of money, the Argentina striker is a gun for hire. At the outset of the 2006 season, he was already talking about refusing to play another game for Corinthians and moving to West Ham United, a club where he played a season even though the Hammers did not legally own his signature. To make matters worse, Tevez scored the goal at Manchester United that consigned Sheffield United to relegation on the final day of the season as West Ham stayed up. West Ham were fined and eventually ordered to pay Sheffield United £4 million per season over five years. Tevez would last a couple of seasons at Manchester United, but became disgruntled with his lack of opportunities and opted to join city rivals Manchester City two years ago. City revelled in United's dismay as they erected banners that boomed out: 'Welcome to Manchester'.
OUTCOME: City should know that Tevez does not have a reliable record of hanging about in one place for any length of time. He has cited family issues behind his need to return to South America, while also telling a chat show in Argentina that he will not return to Manchester, saying that it "rains" and "everything is small". It is ironic that he could return to Corinthians for £40m having given them the cold shoulder. Carlos Tevez: a man who sums up everything that is wrong about the overpaid professional footballer.
TORRES WALKS OUT ON LIVERPOOL
Fernando Torres had cut a troubled figure at Liverpool at the outset of the 2010/11 season following a knee operation. Despite Spain's success in claiming the country's first World Cup, he continued his indifferent form in the Premier League in a struggling Liverpool side before Chelsea came calling with a £40 million in January that was upped to £50 million a day or two later. The bid was accepted and Torres had become the most expensive British transfer of all time. Many Liverpool fans were left dazed, believing they had been betrayed by the Spaniard. "I never kissed the Liverpool badge," argued Torres.
OUTCOME: Liverpool have had the last laugh so far in this staggering deal. For £50 million, Torres has scored one goal in 14 appearances for Chelsea. He was powerless to prevent Manchester United from regaining the Premier League and ousting the London side from the Champions League, events that cost Carlo Ancelotti his job as manager. At least Torres knows the only way he can go is up after such a fallow period. He hopes.
RONALDO FINALLY SHIPS OUT OF UNITED FOR REAL
There was likely to be a few clubs sniffing around Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo when Dutch great Cruyff professed his belief that the Portuguese forward was a better player than George Best and Denis Law. Ronaldo held off Lionel Messi to win the European and World Player of the Year awards as United claimed the Champions League in 2008. But Ronaldo had never hidden his desire to play for Real Madrid, and United reluctantly sanctioned the sale of the player for a sum of £80 million in 2009.
OUTCOME: Ronaldo has been a superb signing for Real Madrid. Scoring goals for fun, he is perhaps only second to Messi in the grand order of the world game. He hit the net 33 times in 35 games in his first season at Real before contributing 53 goals from 54 appearances last season.
CESC FABREGAS, ARSENAL AND BARCA
Spain's World Cup winners decided to have a bit of fun with Cesc Fabregas by sticking a Barcelona top over his head a year ago. If only it was so easy in real life. Barcelona have never hidden their interest in the player over the past few years, and Fabregas is keen to return to the club where he started his career. The problem? Barcelona's failure to meet Arsenal's asking price. Barca have apparently had a £27 million bid rejected for the Arsenal captain. Arsenal want £40 million for the player. Will he go? Or will he stay? That depends on whether or not Barca come up with the going rate for the goods.
OUTCOME: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has not given up hope of keeping Fabregas, but he is surely going to sign for the European champions before the end of the transfer window. At least we hope he is because this is one tiresome transfer saga that needs to be put to bed as soon as possible.
PIERRE VAN HOOIJDONK VERSUS DAVE 'HARRY' BASSETT
It might look a bit dated compared to the rest, but we couldn't resist getting a bit retro in recalling Pierre van Hooijdonk's stand-off with Dave Bassett at Nottingham Forest. Having left Celtic citing disagreements over money with the Glasgow club's owner Fergus McCann - he apparently described a £7,000 per week wage rise as "good enough for the homeless, but not an international striker" - Van Hooijdonk finished top goalscorer in helping Forest win the Championship with 34 goals in 1998. He then went on to criticise the club's alleged lack of ambition after helping the Dutch reach the World Cup last four before going on strike. He returned after three months with manager Dave 'Harry' Bassett decidely unhappy. "I would have let him rot," said Dave.
OUTCOME: Bassett was sacked in December of 1998. Ron Atkinson replaced him, but failed to keep Forest in the Premier League. "I have worked with many good managers and bad ones," said Van Hooijdonk. "When I moved from Celtic to Forest, I had to work for two actors - Dave Bassett and Ron Atkinson." Van Hooijdonk went on to play for Benfica, Feyenoord and Fenerbahce. He won the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord in 2002, but was as renowned for spitting the dummy for no good reason when the mood took him.
DIMITAR BERBATOV TAKES UNITED OPTION
Manchester City tried to hijack Dimitar Berbatov's £30 million move from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United in 2008. Fuelled by their Abu Dhabi backers, City had a £34 million bid accepted by Spurs, but the Bulgarian striker had his heart set on a move to United. The transfer was not without its problems with Tottenham supplying evidence to the Premier League in July 2008 complaining that the player had been pursued illegally for over a year by United. Spurs then said they had agreed a fee with City for the player, before reaching an agreement with United over a fee and showing a willingness to drop their allegations of an illegal approach for a player who had been busy reading United's history.
OUTCOME: Berbatov enjoyed his most productive season for United in 2010/11, scoring 20 goals to end the season as the Premier League's top scorer alongside Tevez. He annoys some fans with his lazy, languid style but can be devastating on his day. Was surprisingly left out of United's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in May, prompting suggestions he could soon be on the move again.