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10 Signings Football Clubs Had No Right To Make

Josh Lawless

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10 Signings Football Clubs Had No Right To Make

In one of the most bizarre transfers in recent memory, Wolves have wrapped up the signing of Porto midfielder Ruben Neves in a £15 million deal, on a five-year deal.

The Molineux outfit finished 15th in the Championship last season but have somehow signed the 20-year old, who just under two years ago became the youngest ever to captain a team in the Champions League when he wore the armband for Porto during their group stage clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv, aged just 18 years and 221 days.

Even with the link to Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo, who managed Neves at Porto, it's still absolutely mental that the Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal target will be playing in the second tier of English football next season.

Wolves, much like your mate is with their new love interest, are punching above their weight big-time, but they won't be the only ones to have done so.

There are several instances where clubs have pulled off signings that they really had no right to make given the position they were in at the time. Here are ten that spring to mind:

Robinho (Real Madrid to Manchester City)

We have to start out with a big boy, don't we? In one of the most dramatic transfer deadline days in history on 1 September 2008, Manchester City announced the shock signing of Real Madrid and Brazil star Robinho on a four-year deal for a fee of £32.5 million - City's transfer record at the time. Robinho had been close to signing for Chelsea but City, who had been taken over by the mega-rich Abu Dhabi United Group, swooped in, and got the deal done before the window slammed shut.

Image: PA

The two-time La Liga winner scored 15 goals in his first season but a second injury-hit campaign saw him leave the club on loan, and then permanently to AC Milan.

Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano (Corinthians to West Ham)

Sticking with another deadline day deal that came out of nothing, West Ham announced the double signing of Corinthians' Argentina duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano on 31 August 2007, much to everyone's surprise.

Image: PA

Other Premier League sides had rejected the chance to sign the promising pair because of the third party ownership issues. Alan Pardew and West Ham were happy to do so, though, and the dodgy dealings helped the Hammers narrowly avoid relegation at the expense of Sheffield United. The case was taken to court and resulted in West Ham receiving a fine of £5.5 million, and forced to pay £18 million in compensation to the Blades.

Carlos Tevez (Manchester United to Manchester City)

Tevez pops up again, this time making the controversial move across Manchester. Having produced the goods that preserved West Ham's Premier League status in 2006/07, Tevez joined Manchester United on a two-year loan deal.

But despite winning two Premier League titles and a Champions League, as well as United meeting the option fee to acquire Tevez from his advisors Media Sports Investments, Tevez signed for cross-town rivals Manchester City - leading to the memorable 'Welcome to Manchester' banner.

Image: PA

Allan Simonsen (Barcelona to Charlton)

Back in 1982, Charlton, playing in the second tier at the time, pulled off one of the biggest coups in football history when they signed Barcelona star Allan Simonsen. The Dane, a former European Footballer of the Year in 1977, had just scored the goal that won Barcelona the 1982 European Cup Winners' Cup but the arrival of Diego Maradona meant that Simonsen's spot in the starting XI was under threat because of Spanish league regulations on foreign players.

He wasn't happy, and after turning down moves to Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur, joined lowly Charlton for £300,000. Citing his reasons for moving to second tier of English football when he could have easily had a more glamorous move, Simonsen said he wanted to play for a team with "less stress and attention".

Image: PA

The deal proved too costly for Charlton in the end, and Simonsen returned to Denmark after scoring nine times in a three month spell.

Diego Maradona (Barcelona to Napoli)

Having mentioned Maradona above, it only feels right that we slot him in. After two years at the Nou Camp, in which he lifted three trophies and scored 38 goals, El Diego broke the world record transfer fee for a second time in 1984 when he moved to Napoli for £6.9 million. The Italian side had just finished a point above the relegation zone in Serie A, but buoyed by the addition of Napoli, would experience a remarkable upwards spiral.

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In Naples, the World Cup enjoyed the most successful period in his playing career, winning two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup. To this day, Maradona is still adored by the Napoli faithful and has recently become an honorary Neapolitan.

Fabrizio Ravanelli (Juventus to Middlesbrough)

When Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli scored in the Champions League final in 1996, where Juventus triumphed over Ajax in 1996, few could predict the man nicknamed 'The White Feather' would be playing for Middlesbrough two months later. Ambitious Boro had drafted in Brazilian pair Juninho and Emerson alongside Ravanelli, who scored 31 goals in all competitions in a memorable, but ultimately disappointing campaign.

Image: PA

Bryan Robson's side reached the FA Cup and League Cup finals, but the eventful and entertaining season end in the club suffering relegation to the Championship, and leading to Ravanelli, the highest paid footballer in England at the time, leaving after just a single season.

Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus to Toronto)

The MLS has developed a reputation for attracting world-class players coming towards the end of their decorated playing careers, but Sebastian Giovinco is the big exception. The former Juventus man signed for Toronto as one of the club's designated players on a $7 million-a-year salary, ousting Kaka as the league's top earner. Still only 30, the diminutive player has shown on a weekly basis that he is a class above those playing in the top tier in the United States.

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Giovinco has been a joy to watch in the MLS and currently boasts an incredible tally of 57 goals in 89 outings for Toronto. Though he's clearly enjoying his time in Canada, he's probably not going to get back into the Italian national team fold unless he returns to Europe.

Kevin Keegan (Hamburg to Southampton)

Though he's probably best known for having a complete and utterly meltdown and bottling the title as manager of Newcastle United in 1996, Kevin Keegan was an exceptional footballer. After leaving Liverpool, where he was part of a side that won four league titles on the bounce, for Hamburg in 1977, Keegan continued to produce the goods and won the Ballon d'Or in 1978 and 1979.

He was a huge star, who would have walked into just about every team in the world - which made it all the more mind-boggling when his next destination was Southampton, who had just been promoted to the top flight a year previous, in 1980. 'KK' spent two seasons at the Dell, scoring 41 goals before moving onto Newcastle and helping them return to the promised land of the old first division.

Image: PA

Jay-Jay Okocha (Unattached to Bolton Wanderers)

The Nigerian wizard is fondly remembered by PSG for his four-year stint in the French capital, but Jay-Jay Okocha's connection with Bolton Wanderers, following his free transfer in 2002, is something else. Watching the No.10 rinse opposition defenders and do things with a football that hadn't been seen or probably even attempted before, was a complete and utter pleasure.

Image: PA

We should be more thankful to Sam Allardyce for bringing Okocha and his mercurial talents to English football. So good, they named him twice.

Edgar Davids (Unattached to Barnet)

Finishing off with one of the more recent surprise signings, Edgar Davids, the well-travelled Netherlands midfielder who turned out for the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and both Milan clubs, joined Barnet as joint head-coach and player in 2012. Seeing him play for Crystal Palace at the age of 37 two years earlier was weird enough, but seeing "The Pitbull" rock up in north-west London was next level.

Image: PA

Davids would then go on to become first-team boss following the departure of Mark Robson in December 2012, appointed himself as captain and gave himself the No.1 shirt, despite being an outfielder, in a bizarre stint that lasted just less than two years.

What do you make of our list? Can you think of any examples where clubs have punched above their weight with a signing?

Sound off in the comments section below.

Topics: Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ruben Neves, Football, Carlos Tevez, Diego Maradona, Robinho

Josh Lawless
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