Derby matches bring out the fiercest loyalties in anyone belonging to a club whether it be players, coaches or the fans. There are few things that can intensify a bitter rivalry further but a player switching allegiances is one of them. The Premier League has been no exception to this as plenty of football’s biggest names have flirted with danger at least once in their careers. It might be hard to see what motivates a player to embrace such intense feelings from fans whether it unbridled joy or pure outrage. Here are six players who joined rival Premier League clubs.
6 players who joined rival Premier League clubs
Abel Xavier (Everton to Liverpool)
Very few footballers are brave enough to play for Liverpool’s two sides in their career yet Abel Xavier took things one step further. The Portuguese defender left Goodison Park for Anfield in January 2002 as The Reds raided their arch-nemesis after suffering an injury crisis in defence.
It led to one of the most shocking moments in Merseyside Derby history where Xavier became the only player to ever play in the derby for both sides in the same season. Xavier’s appearances after the move to Liverpool were fleeting and the peroxide-haired defender left Liverpool and English football just a year later moving to Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Crossing the Liverpool v Everton divide is a brave feat that no one has dared to accomplish since then.
Ashley Cole (Arsenal to Chelsea)
With the rise of Chelsea due to Abramovich’s billions, a cross-London rivalry soon sprouted between the Blues and Arsenal for bragging rights in the English capital. As Chelsea grew more and more successful, so did the lack of success for The Gunners. This saw some of their top stars want out including home-grown star Ashley Cole who became one of the biggest players to join rival clubs.
Wanting more success and money, the English left-back forced a move from The Emirates to Stamford Bridge in one of the most heated transfers of the 2006 summer transfer window. The once-beloved Cole became an instantly-hated figure amongst Arsenal fans branding him “Cashley” Cole due to his move being driven by higher wages. Cole would arguably have the last laugh winning 4 Premier League titles and a Champions League with The Blues in a move that only further intensified their rivalry.
Javier Manquillo (Sunderland to Newcastle)
It takes a brave player to switch between two of England’s most well-supported club yet that is what Javier Manquillo did in 2017. The Spanish right-back spent did in 2017 having spent a full-season on loan with Sunderland during their ill-fated 2016-17 campaign, adding himself to our list of players who joined rival clubs.
Having returned back to Spain with Atletico Madrid after their relegation, Newcastle made a shock move to sign the right-back on a permanent transfer. Despite his appearance for their cross-county rivals, Manquillo has become a regular fixture at St James’ Park and has become a fan favourite throughout their Premier League tenure.
Robin Van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United)
At the turn of the century, Arsenal vs Manchester United was the biggest rivalry in English football. With Arsenal suffering a serious trophy drought heading into the 2010s, many of their top stars wanted out including leading goalscorer Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman got his wish although few expected his move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2012. It was a real power play from Sir Alex Ferguson signing The Gunners’ then skipper in a quest to win the Premier League title.
The move put extra emphasis on the next clash between the two behemoths and it would be Van Persie who scored the decisive goal to settle the match 2-1 in United’s favour. It was a stellar campaign for Van Persie in the 2012-13 season where he scored 26 goals in 38 games helping United secure their 20th league title.
Carlos Tevez (Manchester United to Manchester City)
Having long been the dominant force in Manchester, United were not used to players wanting to defect across town to Manchester City. However, City’s new found riches from their Abu-Dhabi takeover saw some stars eyeing up lucrative offers. Enter Carlos Tevez.
The renegade striker became unsettled at Old Trafford throughout the 2008/09 season with few talks happening between club and player. As the summer of 2009 progressed, Tevez looked to be on his way out yet the world was stunned when he moved to Manchester City. City fans rejoiced at the coup with United fans left bewildered by the move. Tevez and his lively ways made him a hot and cold figure with The Citizens and whilst he scored some major goals for City, he failed to become the intended superstar after his move across town that some had envisioned.
Sol Campbell (Spurs to Arsenal)
Few players have earned more hatred from a set of fans than Sol Campbell, the final entry on our list of players who joined rival clubs. The English defender was a home-grown star for Spurs and a beloved figure at White Hart Lane. So Spurs’ fans were stunned when Campbell left the club for arch-rivals Arsenal in 2001.
Now a central part of Arsene Wenger’s line-up, Campbell drew fierce hate from Spurs’ fans throughout the season labelling him “Judas” and often the recipient of horrific chants. Campbell would get the last laugh as he would win two league titles with Arsenal and be a lynchpin of “The Invincibles” squad that went undefeated in the 2003/04 season. The animosity from Spurs’ fans has remained strong despite Campbell retiring from professional football in 2012. It remains one of the strongest cross-club turns in Premier League history.
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