Iconic Football Stars Who Made Shock Moves to Modest Clubs This Year
There are certain football players who, no matter which teams they are playing for, will always be regarded with legendary status. Undoubtedly beyond their prime and well into the twilight of their careers, they still have the capacity to cause uproar when moving to new clubs.
At 34-years-old and 36-years-old respectively, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still renowned as world-class players, which is why PSG and Manchester United had no hesitation making their moves, even if the pinnacle of their careers came in the previous decade. While they are two giant clubs with ambitions of winning silverware, what about sides where the only real objective is topflight survival?
Tipped to struggle this season based on the EPL relegation odds from Betfair, teams like Norwich City and Crystal Palace have resisted the urge to bring in faded stars, as have Newcastle United. Nevertheless, after grabbing 32-year-old Moussa Sissoko from Tottenham Hotspur for just £3 million, Watford will be hoping the French international still has plenty of gas in the tank.
Newly promoted Brentford opted against taking any chances on big-name veterans, maintaining the first-team squad without a single player aged 30 or older. Meanwhile, the only veteran addition at Burnley was 34-year-old goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, boasting 97 international caps for Wales, yet unlikely to be more than a mere backup option at Turf Moor.
Elsewhere around Europe, certain modest clubs have taken a different outlook, eager to boost the morale of their fans and attract media attention. This has led to some surprise moves, either during the summer transfer window or shortly after it closed, with notable free agents accepting offers they might not have otherwise considered.
For example, 38-year-old Franck Ribéry still has an appetite for football. After winning a host of titles with Bayern Munich, including nine Bundesliga titles and the Champions League, the former France international moved to Serie A side Fiorentina, where he was expected to see out the remainder of his career.
However, after becoming a free agent in June this year when his Fiorentina contract expired, Ribéry found himself considering several options around Europe. In the end, much to the surprise of everyone, he opted to sign for newly promoted Salernitana. According to Football Italia reports, Ribéry has penned a one-year deal, with the option for another year if Salernitana can remain in Serie A.
Arguably the two biggest free-agent coups have come in Spain’s LaLiga. The first was rumoured for a number of days, albeit with plenty of disbelief, then it was confirmed when 35-year-old Colombian striker Radamel Falcao joined Rayo Vallecano, much to the delight of their fans. His aim will be to help the tiny but cult Madrid club survive amongst the Spanish elite.
Just when it seemed that move couldn’t possibly be upstaged, Elche CF announced the arrival of Javier Pastore, who was regarded as a phenomenally talented midfielder in his prime with PSG just a few years ago. Things just never worked out for him at Roma and on the 30th of August, the club and player agreed to the mutual termination of his contract.
Jaded and past his best, maybe so, but if 32-year-old Pastore can recover even a fraction of his best form, let's be honest here, seeing 'El Flaco' back in action will be a joy to behold.