Euro 2020 may be in full swing but transfer business still rumbles on for clubs across the continent as they continue their preparations for the new season.
With Turkey crashing out of the group stage, Hakan Calhanoglu was left free to focus his attention on a move that has been bubbling away for several weeks and Tuesday saw the AC Milan midfielder cross the city divide to join rivals Inter Milan on a free transfer.
Of course, when a player leaves a club to sign for their big rivals, there is always the chance that the move will be met with controversy, or leave at least one of the parties involved looking very silly indeed, as the following major transfers show.
Ajax renamed their stadium the Johan Cruyff Arena following his death in 2016, but there was a time in the early 1980s when it looked like the Dutch icon had burnt his bridges with the Amsterdam club. At the end of the 1982-83 season, Cruyff's relationship with the top brass at Ajax had broken down to the point where he felt he had to seek a fresh start elsewhere. Aged 36, he signed for Feyenoord. Once Ajax's arch rivals, the Rotterdam club were struggling to recapture past glories, without an Eredivisie title since 1974 and slipping gradually down the Eredivisie. However, Cruyff's arrival immediately re-energised the sleeping giants, who went on to win a league and cup double in his one season at De Kuip. Having also collected a number of individual awards and plaudits, Cruyff then capped his swansong by announcing his retirement in the summer of 1984.
Roberto Baggio: Fiorentina to Juventus (1990)
These days, controversial transfers are usually met with snake emojis on social media and the odd banner in the stands, but Baggio's move to Juve in 1990 sparked riots in the streets of Florence. After the forward inspired Fiorentina to the 1990 UEFA Cup final (which they lost against Juventus). Juve were so impressed that they signed him for a world-record fee. Fiorentina fans did not take it well, with multiples injuries reported as civil unrest broke out in the city, leading to club president Flavio Pontello reportedly locking himself inside the Stadio Artemio Franchi to prevent the baying mob from reaching him. Baggio added to the controversy: the following season when Juve played Fiorentina he refused to take a penalty and, when he was later substituted in his team's 1-0 defeat, picked up a Fiorentina scarf thrown from the crowd.
Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid (2000)
To say that Barca fans didn't take too kindly to the sight of Figo departing at the peak of his powers to join Florentino Perez's "Galactico" revolution at Real Madrid is definitely something of an understatement. The Portuguese forward was famously pelted with a pig's head upon his return to the Camp Nou in 2002, amid a hail of assorted missiles being hurled onto the pitch by grudge-bearing Barca fans. Figo went on to win two league titles and the Champions League at the Bernabeu.
Sol Campbell: Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal (2001)
Having spent eight seasons establishing himself as a rock at the heart of the Spurs defence, Campbell well and truly upset the North London apple cart in the summer of 2001. His future had been up in the air for several months as his contract was running down, but few expected the centre-back's next step would be to move in with their bitter rivals next door. Just to heighten the vitriol, Campbell's free transfer to Arsenal was agreed well in advance and then kept secret for weeks -- to the point that only two reporters were present at his introductory news conference, both of whom assumed the Gunners were announcing the signing of goalkeeper Richard Wright from Ipswich. "I've made my decision and I just hope people respect it," the 26-year-old said after completing the move. Spoiler alert: They didn't.
Clarence Seedorf: Inter Milan to AC Milan (2002)
🔝 The only player to win the Champions League with 3 different teams...— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 1, 2021
🇳🇱 Happy birthday, Clarence Seedorf! 🎉
1⃣9⃣9⃣8⃣🏆 Real Madrid
2⃣0⃣0⃣3⃣🏆 AC Milan
2⃣0⃣0⃣7⃣🏆 AC Milan#HBD | #UCL pic.twitter.com/SH4nf8AMW3
Not only is Seedorf a member of the exclusive band of players to have moved directly between the opposing Milan clubs, his transfer was an even rarer occurrence in that it consisted of a swap deal struck between the two camps. Seeking to rejuvenate their side, Inter allowed the Netherlands midfielder to join their rivals in exchange for Italy international wing-back Francesco Coco. Inter clearly thought they'd got the better of the deal, as they boasted in their statement that "Coco will become the sixth Inter player on World Cup duty for Italy at Korea/Japan 2002."
Coco went on to make less than 30 league appearances for Inter in five years due to injuries, before retiring altogether in 2007 in order to pursue an acting career. By contrast, Seedorf enjoyed a renaissance with Milan, flourishing as an all-action midfielder and winning two Serie A titles and two Champions Leagues, becoming the only player to become a European champion with three different clubs.
Ashley Cole: Arsenal to Chelsea (2006)
A transfer saga so fractured and divisive that it ended up in court, Cole left Arsenal amid a cloud of acrimony when he signed for cross-city rivals Chelsea in 2006. To make matters worse, the left-back divulged just a little too much information in his autobiography about the gripes he had over the contract wranglings he'd endured with the Gunners in the months leading up to the split -- which landed him the nickname "Cashley" once Chelsea agreed to double his wages. Sure enough, Arsenal fans were on hand to wave fake bank notes in his face when time he returned to face his former side. Still, the England international went on to win the Champions League in 2012, and he holds the record for lifting the FA Cup more times than any other player.
Carlos Tevez: Manchester United to Manchester City (2009)
The transfer that sparked the "billboard wars" that dominated Manchester city centre for several years, Tevez swapped red for blue despite most United fans desperately wanting the Argentina forward to extend his contract. However, Sir Alex Ferguson had other ideas and eventually Tevez was left to go down the road and become the first player to move directly between United and City in two decades. His arrival at City saw the club erect a large blue billboard that read "Welcome to Manchester" in Deansgate, in reference to the fact that Old Trafford is actually in the neighbouring city of Salford.
However, that soon backfired when Tevez began suffering disciplinary issues and falling out with all and sundry at the club, leading United fans to erect a parody billboard in the same location that read "Welcome to Carlos" right across it.
Andrea Pirlo: AC Milan to Juventus (2011)
After three seasons at Inter early in his career, two of which were spent on loan, Pirlo moved on to rivals AC Milan in 2001 as something of a makeweight in a deal that saw midfielder Drazen Brncic move the opposite way. After struggling to get a foothold with the Nerazzurri as an attacking midfielder, Pirlo quickly began to undergo a transformation at the Rossoneri after converting to a deep-lying playmaker role. A decade of success followed, with Pirlo becoming a fan favourite at the San Siro as well as an established world-class talent, winning two Serie A titles and two Champions Leagues in the process.
It was therefore rather surprising that the 31-year-old was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer of 2011 in order to join rivals Juventus -- a deal Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon branded "the signing of the century" at the time. Buffon wasn't wrong, as Pirlo went on to play an integral part in Juve's ensuing success, winning four consecutive Scudettos between 2011 and 2015 as well as three Serie A Player of the Year awards.
Robin van Persie: Arsenal to Manchester United (2012)
When Manchester United missed out on the 2011-12 title on goal difference, Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to identify the one player he wanted to prevent the same fate befalling his side in 2012-13. As such, Fergie went out and simply cherry-picked Arsenal's star striker, paying a fee of just £24 million to sign Van Persie with the striker in the final year of his contract. Fuelled by the Dutchman's prolific goal-scoring, United powered to the 2012-13 title as Van Persie ended the campaign with 30 goals and a Premier League golden boot to his name.
Robert Lewandowski: Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich (2014)
After rattling away 103 goals in 187 games for Dortmund and helping them reach the 2013 Champions League final, Lewandowski was in high demand. Dortmund had rather hoped to secure the striker's services with a bumper new contract, but instead the Poland international was lured by the bright lights of Bayern, who capitalised on a pre-contract agreement to snare the 25-year-old on a free transfer a year after beating Dortmund at Wembley. The right decision was made, with Lewandowski enjoying a prolonged era of unbridled success at the Allianz Arena in the years that followed. Bayern have a history of flexing their financial muscle to poach emergent talent from the Bundesliga rivals, with Dortmund also seeing Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels move to Bavaria over the same period.
Raheem Sterling: Liverpool to Manchester City (2015)
Liverpool had one of the most exciting young talents in England on their books when Sterling broke through into the first-team picture as a 17-year-old in 2012. However, rather than sticking around to develop at Anfield, Sterling instead requested to leave the club as soon as Man City expressed an interest in his services, even rejecting an offer of a contract extension worth £100,000-a-week from the Reds.
The saga dragged on for over a month with disgruntled fans becoming more and more irate at the nature of negotiations. However, ultimately City got their man in July 2015 after returning with a second, vastly improved bid worth £49m for the 20-year-old winger. He's since become a staple for the England national side, as well as winning three Premier League titles and numerous other trophies with City.
Luis Suarez: Barcelona to Atletico Madrid (2020)
It's fair to say that Barca made a huge mistake when they deemed Suarez to be surplus to requirements in the summer of 2020 and simply freed up the Uruguayan to drift away to Atletico. With a point to prove, Suarez duly scored 21 goals in 38 appearances as Diego Simeone's gnarly side scrapped their way to a historic La Liga title.
The championship was sealed in dramatic circumstances, with Atletico coming from behind against Real Valladolid to win 2-1 on the very last day of the season to clinch it by just two points. Who scored the decisive goal that delivered Atleti their first La Liga since 2014? The previously unwanted 34-year-old striker they signed from Barca just seven months prior.
All in all, not a bad return for a deal that was worth an initial €5m which could rise to €11m, sources have told ESPN.