Most Controversial Transfers in EPL history

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BetMGM @BETMGM Apr 18, 2022, 11:41 AM
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Ashley Cole of Chelsea goes past Nicolae Stanciu of Steaua during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and FC Steaua Bucuresti at Stamford Bridge on December 11, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Nothing gets an English Premier League fan’s hackles raised faster than a beloved hometown star betraying his club. It’s even worse if that player transfers to the hated rival across town. But this has happened plenty of times in the EPL, and one can bet the European football odds favor it happening again.

So which of those transfers have stirred the pot more thoroughly than others? We took a look at five that have raised eyebrows.

The Top Contenders

Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal): We see it in sports all the time: A superstar goes from the most loved man in town to the most despised in about three nanoseconds. That was the case of Campbell when he went from Tottenham to Arsenal in 2001. For 10 years and 255 caps with Hotspur, he was a mainstay at centre-back. He was an anchor, the rock. He’d grown up in the Tottenham youth system. And most importantly? He pledged to never play for rival Arsenal. But that’s exactly where he headed. The English national never looked back, and Spurs fans never forgave him.

Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea): This transfer didn’t end in pretty fashion. Cole, a stellar outside back, spent his youth with Arsenal. He went on to be capped 156 times with the senior team between 1999 and 2006. So when Chelsea obtained him in 2006, there was some bad blood and hurt feelings in the fanbase. First, Chelsea was rumored to be talking to Cole through back channels. That is a clear no-no in the EPL. 

Then things were written about Cole where he did not paint Arsenal in a good light, even though the club gave him his start. Hey, sometimes two partners parting ways isn’t easy, right? He went on to 229 caps with Chelsea and also was capped 107 times with the senior team of England.

Denis Law (Manchester United to Manchester City): Let’s go back in time to a key transfer that happened more than 50 years ago. Think things weren’t just as intense back then as they are today, especially in the Manchester derby? Law, a Scotsman, actually played for Man City from 1960-61 before he played in Italy for a short spell. When he came back in 1962, he signed with Man U and posted 404 overall appearances and 237 goals. But when it came to wrapping his career in the mid-1970s, he did it with a short stint at Man City. 

Carlos Tevez (Manchester United to Manchester City): It’s not easy to switch sides in Manchester. Tevez found this out, especially after he made it loudly known he didn’t appreciate being made to feel expendable. Man U had not extended a long-term contract. So instead of staying with United, he signed a long-term contract with Man City in 2009 and went on to score 58 goals in 113 caps. The Argentine national was miffed by the loan transfer, and it ended up backfiring on Man U and changed soccer betting lines.

Robin Van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United): Anybody notice that Arsenal and the Manchester sides tend to get tied up in all of this controversy rather frequently? It is quite the trend, it would seem. Van Persie was the love of Arsenal when he left the club in 2012. He was the captain, and he was the firepower up top that the Gunners relied on. The Dutch national made the switch to Man U and the rest is history. Despite scoring 96 goals in 194 caps, Arsenal soured on van Persie because of his departure.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Carlos Tevez of Manchester City battles for the ball with Jonny Evans of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 17, 2010, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered the FCS for HERO Sports, and wrote for so many newspapers he lost count. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.