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Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo, Sterling, Kane and the Premier League's most infamous transfer strops and strikes

12:21 BST 04/08/2022
Cristiano Ronaldo Raheem Sterling Man Utd Liverpool GFX
Cristiano Ronaldo is hardly the first player to act out in order to secure a transfer...

Cristiano Ronaldo has endured a turbulent summer. He didn't partake in Manchester United's pre-season tour for 'family reasons' but had already made it clear to his employers that he wanted to leave Old Trafford before the close of the transfer window.

Having been frustrated by the total lack of interest in his services among Europe's elite, he belatedly returned to training but not before a tense meeting with members of the club's hierarchy over his future.

Ronaldo's stance hasn't changed: he wants out. However, he did make his first appearance of pre-season in last weekend's friendly with Rayo Vallecano.

It didn't go well, though, as Ronaldo – who had been replaced at half-time – and a number of other players left the ground before the game had even finished. Manager Erik ten Hag blasted that behaviour as "unacceptable".

Of course, Ronaldo's behaviour is nothing new. Down through the years, we've seen several Premier League players employ some questionable tactics in order to secure a transfer.

  • Pierre van Hooijdonk Nottingham Forest

    Pierre van Hooijdonk

    Pierre van Hooijdonk helped Nottingham Forest gain promotion to the Premier League with a stunning 1997-98 season that included 34 goals scored.

    He often clashed with manager Dave Bassett over the best set-up for the team, though, and eventually attempted to engineer a move back to his native Netherlands with PSV. The manager refused to let him go, despite Newcastle reportedly offering £7 million ($8.5m).

    When Van Hooijdonk returned from World Cup duty in 1998, he believed the club was not well-positioned to start the new season.

    The striker asked for a transfer and cited an agreement that allowed him to move at the end of the season should he wish. The owners refused, so Van Hooijdonk went on strike.

    The protest lasted till November, when he reluctantly agreed to return. He scored just six goals that season and Forest ended up relegated. He eventually moved to Holland, joining Vitesse for £3.5m ($4.2m).

  • William Gallas Chelsea

    William Gallas

    This is perhaps the craziest story on our list. William Gallas left Chelsea to join Arsenal in 2006, but it wasn't an amicable split.

    After the deal had been completed, Blues boss Jose Mourinho backed the release of a club statement that claimed Gallas threatened to score an own goal and get himself sent off if he were forced to play for the club again. It was also suggested that he had refused to play in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool the previous season.

    Chelsea also stated that despite not wanting to let Gallas leave, they reluctantly agreed in order to help secure the services of Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole.

    Gallas was enraged by Chelsea's claims and issued a statement of his own in which he declared: "I certainly never said I'd try and score an own goal if I ever played for Chelsea again."

    Regardless of whether the most damning accusations were accurate, Gallas did sit out a pre-season tour leading up to his Blues exit.

  • Dimitar Berbatov, Sir Alex Ferguson

    Dimitar Berbatov

    Did Sir Alex Ferguson deliberately unsettle Dimitar Berbatov in the summer of 2008? Or were quotes attributed to the Scot simply the work of a mischievous media? Whatever the truth, the Tottenham striker clearly had his head turned by the news that Manchester United wanted to sign him.

    Spurs filed a complaint with the Premier League, which Ferguson labelled "embarrassing", insisting that he had not told any newspaper that he expected to have Berbatov on board for the 2008-09 campaign.

    By that stage, though, Berbatov was desperate to move to Old Trafford and he was left out of Tottenham's early-season clashes with Sunderland and Chelsea.

    The Bulgarian was eventually allowed to leave by Spurs' seething chairman, Daniel Levy, but even Ferguson had been emotionally scared by the whole sorry episode, later writing that the transfer saga had been "more painful than my hip operation".

  • Javier Mascherano Liverpool

    Javier Mascherano

    Javier Mascherano was a hugely popular player at Liverpool, adored for the aggression and commitment he displayed each and every time he set foot on the pitch. The fans were bitterly disappointed, then, when he refused to play a game against Manchester City on August 23, 2010.

    The problem was that Barcelona had made a bid for Mascherano and he was desperate to leave. He'd made his intentions known immediately after returning to Merseyside after the World Cup and he was under the impression that the club would let him leave if they received a reasonable offer.

    Liverpool, though, did not want to give up one of the best midfielders in the world at the time, so Mascherano went AWOL for the trip to City.

    He has since apologised to the fans for his actions but still maintains that he had no other choice.

    "I was quite angry that they weren’t keeping their word," he later told FourFourTwo. Refusing to play at City was the way I found to show my annoyance.

    "I’d told the club I wanted to leave for family reasons, so I was very upset to have to act the way I did. There was no other option – otherwise, Liverpool wouldn’t keep their promise."

  • Carlos Tevez Manchester City

    Carlos Tevez

    Despite a famously warm welcome, Carlos Tevez never completely settled in the blue half of Manchester, after making the move from United to City in 2009.

    The first issue arrived in December 2010 when, after failing to secure an improved contract, he handed in a written transfer request. It was withdrawn by the end of the month but that didn't signal the end of his issues at City.

    Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini had a huge falling-out during Manchester City's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in September 2011. With the visitors 2-0 down, Tevez allegedly refused to come on as a substitute. Mancini was furious and the Argentine forward was subsequently suspended for two weeks by the club.

    He then went on strike until February of the following year. City tried to sell him during the January transfer window but to no avail. During the impasse, Tevez was even pictured enjoying a round of golf.

    Tevez belatedly apologised for his actions and was welcomed back into the first-team squad by Mancini, who was keen to draw a line under the whole affair.

    Tevez responded to pundits questioning his commitment by celebrating with a golf swing after scoring a hat-trick against Norwich on April 14, 2012.

  • Luka Modric Tottenham

    Luka Modric

    Luka Modric orchestrated two explosive sagas in quick succession as he tried to force a move away from Tottenham.

    In 2011, Chelsea had two bids for the Croatian rejected by Spurs, much to Modric's frustration. He claimed to have had a "gentleman's agreement" in place with chairman Daniel Levy to sell him to a "bigger club".

    Modric then effectively went on strike and thus missed Tottenham's Premier League opener, a 3-0 loss to Manchester United. He eventually ended up staying in north London, but not for much longer.

    The following summer, Real Madrid made a move for Modric. The midfielder refused to turn up for training, and then didn't travel with the Spurs squad on their pre-season tour of the United States.

    He was fined two weeks wages as he continued to push for a transfer. Eventually, a fee was agreed and Modric left for the Santiago Bernabeu, where he would become a Ballon d'Or winner.

  • Raheem Sterling Liverpool Premier League 310814

    Raheem Sterling

    Raheem Sterling looked poised to become a Liverpool legend. Instead, he became a target for the Anfield boo boys after quitting the club in acrimonious circumstances.

    After breaking into the first team under Brendan Rodgers and quickly becoming a first-team regular, Sterling was offered a new contract in 2015. However, the winger then gave an unsanctioned interview to the BBC in which he revealed that he had no intention of extending a deal that still had two years to run.

    Rodgers was enraged, blaming Sterling's agent, Aidy Ward, for leading his client astray. Ward responded in an interview with the London Evening Standard, saying "I don't care about the PR of the club and the club situation... He is definitely not signing. He's not signing for £700,000 £800,000 or £900,000 a week."

    Manchester City made a bid for Sterling that summer but Liverpool rejected their first couple of offers. They eventually accepted a £50m ($60m) bid, but only after Sterling had refused to travel on the club's pre-season tour before then missing two days of training through 'illness', sparking widespread criticism from a host of Liverpool legends, including former captain Steven Gerrard.

    "I'm not happy with all that carry-on," the midfielder said. "You don't have to throw in illness, or refuse to go on tour. It's very difficult for me to sit here and support him."

  • Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

    Philippe Coutinho

    Philippe Coutinho eventually got his dream move to Barcelona, but he made life a bit of a nightmare for Liverpool in the process.

    In the summer of 2017, Barca reportedly tabled three bids for the Brazilian, all of which were rejected by the Reds.

    So, Coutinho reportedly handed in a transfer request before then suffering a back injury that the Selecao's doctor claimed was caused by stress, resulting in the attacking midfielder missing the start of the season.

    Coutinho eventually returned to the fold but, when January rolled around, manager Jurgen Klopp effectively admitted that the former Inter man was no longer will to play for the club.

    The Brazilian eventually moved to Camp Nou for approximately £140m ($170) – a colossal sum of money that effectively funded a new era of success for Liverpool by paying for the acquisition of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.

  • Harry Kane frustrated Tottenham 2021-22

    Harry Kane

    Last summer, Harry Kane made an ultimately unsuccessful play to leave Tottenham for Manchester City.

    The saga started when Harry Kane spoke to Gary Neville on his show 'The Overlap' and revealed that he was desperate to win trophies.

    Then, after going on holiday to the US after Euro 2020, Kane failed to return in time for pre-season training. He was accused of effectively going on strike and his professionalism was called into question.

    Kane responded with an Instagram post on August 6, defending his no-show, but he still sat out the first two games of the season, the first of which was a 1-0 win over City that Spurs fans celebrated wildly.

    He then issued a second statement on social media, some 20 days after his first, committing his services to Tottenham after returning to action in a win over Wolves at the end of August.