When players risk the wrath of fans by joining their rivals

Sol Campbell crossing the North London divide, Fernando Torres’s Chelsea switch and Carlos Tevez being ‘welcomed to Manchester’ by City… the stars who risked the wrath of their fans by joining their rivals as the Blues agree £50m Raheem Sterling deal

  • Man City and Chelsea have agreed a £50million deal for Raheem Sterling 
  • If they pull it off, Sterling would be moving from one title contender to another
  • He would not be the first player to move between rival clubs in the top-flight
  • From Sol Campbell moving to Arsenal, to Fernando Torres joining Chelsea, there have been some controversial transfers between major clubs over the years 

Chelsea are hoping to sign three Manchester City players this summer with Thomas Tuchel keen on Raheem Sterling, Nathan Ake and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

As Sportsmail reported on Saturday night, Sterling’s protracted move away from the Etihad came to a conclusion when Chelsea agreed a £50million deal for the England international.

The Blues are also keen to sign Ake while a deal for Zinchenko looks to be further away, but it is clear that Chelsea’s new co-owner Todd Boehly wants to make an instant impact at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are currently trying to sign Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling in a £50m deal

The Blues ended up finishing 19 points adrift of City in the league last term as they fell away in the second half of the season.

Yet Thomas Tuchel is keen to get his team back into the title picture in 2022-23, and has set his sights on bringing in some of City’s player to achieve this.

Would City be wise to sell multiple players to one of their rivals, and do these transfers tend to work out for the buying club?

Sportsmail takes a look at transfers between rival teams, and whether they proved to be good business on the part of the buying or selling club…


Coming just three months into the inception of the Premier League, this was a huge transfer for the Red Devils, and would set them on their way for the incredibly successful period under Sir Alex Ferguson that followed.

Cantona had only joined Leeds in January 1992, but he immediately made his mark, helping them win the league title in his first season at the club. In that title race, Howard Wilkinson’s men managed to hold off United.

A matter of months later, though, Cantona would be lining up for Ferguson’s team. The Frenchman moved to Old Trafford in November 1992, and within six months United had won their first league championship in over a quarter of a century.

They retained their title the following year, with Cantona finishing as top scorer for the team.

It was not always smooth sailing for the striker, who was handed a ban from football after aiming a ‘kung-fu’ style kick at a fan in January 1995. United would go on to be pipped to the title that year by Blackburn.

He returned to a hero’s welcome in October of that year, and went on to win two more league titles before hanging up his boots, ensuring that his time at Old Trafford was undoubtedly a major success.

Eric Cantona joined Manchester United not long after helping Leeds to the first division title


Perhaps the most controversial transfer of the Premier League era. Tottenham fans still haven’t forgiven Campbell over two decades later.

The England defender came through Spurs’ academy, and captained the team when they won the Worthington Cup in 1999 against Leicester.

Yet when Tottenham’s biggest rivals came calling in 2001, he could not resist, and he joined the Gunners on a free transfer. 

The move ultimately paid off for Campbell in terms of silverware as he won a league-cup double in his debut season at Highbury.

Arsenal retained the FA Cup a year later, before they went an entire league season unbeaten in 2003-04, leading to Arsene Wenger’s side being christened ‘The Invincibles’.

There was still time for Campbell to win one more FA Cup at Arsenal in 2005, cementing his place as a fans’ favourite. He is not remembered as fondly by Tottenham supporters!

Sol Campbell decided to leave Tottenham to move across north London to join Arsenal

Campbell’s departure left Tottenham fans angry that he had joined their biggest rivals


A transfer that really highlighted a changing of the guard at the top of English football.

Cole had won two league titles and three FA Cups at Arsenal, but with Chelsea running away with the Premier League two years on the trot, it seemed that the Gunners had started to lose their way.

Chelsea wanted to prove that they were the team, and they targeted one of their rivals’ best players in the shape of Cole.

They got their man in the summer of 2006, although the club were later issued with several fines after being found guilty of ‘tapping-up’ the full-back.

Cole would go on to establish himself as one of the finest left-backs in world football for much of the next decade at Stamford Bridge, winning eight pieces of major silverware, including four more FA Cups and the Champions League.

Chelsea managed to lure Ashley Cole away from Arsenal in the summer of 2006


In his two years at United, Tevez struck up an almost telepathic understanding with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to make Ferguson’s men the best side in England once more.

Yet it became clear towards the end of the 2008-09 season that he was having some issues with agreeing a new contract at the club.

As he left the pitch for the final time in front of the home fans, he received a huge ovation from the crowd, who wanted him to stay. Little did they know what was to happen next.

In July 2009, Tevez made the daring move to switch from United to City, leading to the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ banner being unfurled.

During his four-year stay at the Etihad Stadium, Tevez would net 73 goals in 148 appearances, but he did fall out with Roberto Mancini in 2011 after the Italian manager accused him of refusing to come on as a substitute during a Champions League game against Bayern Munich.

Tevez was left out of the squad for some time after that incident, but he returned in time to play his part in City’s 2011-12 title triumph, meaning that his time at City was an overall success.

Carlos Tevez opted to leave Manchester United to join Manchester City in 2009


This transfer could act as a tale of caution for Chelsea. These moves don’t always go to plan.

Torres was widely viewed as one of the best strikers in England when he was at Liverpool. He scored 80 goals for the Reds in three-and-a-half years, while also winning the European Championships and World Cup with Spain.

Therefore, when Chelsea splashed out £50m on him in January 2011, they must have thought that they’d pulled off a brilliant deal.

Coincidentally, his debut came against Liverpool, and he endured an afternoon to forget. It would be a sign of things to come.

He would end up failing to hit double figures in any of his league campaigns for the Blues prior to permanently leaving the club in 2015.

Still, he did score the goal at the Nou Camp to seal Chelsea’s place in the 2012 Champions League final, and some fans may argue that this made his move to west London worthwhile after all.

Fernando Torres left Liverpool to join Chelsea for £50million in January 2011


Van Persie had a sensational 2011-12 season at Arsenal, scoring 30 top-flight goals to win the Golden Boot.

However, Arsenal finished well off the pace in the title race, and with the Dutchman having just one year left on his contract, the Gunners had a decision to make. Sell him now, or keep him for another year and risk losing him for free?

They went with the former, but did not just sell him to anybody – they let him go to United! 

Having missed out on the title in dramatic fashion the previous season, United need extra firepower up front, and Van Persie provided it.

He netted 26 league goals to win a second successive Golden Boot as the Rede Devils stormed to the title, giving Ferguson the perfect send-off.

Manchester United signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal in 2012

Of course, not all clubs get their hands on players from their rivals, with either the team or the player putting that foot down to stop the deal going through.

Sportsmail looks back at transfers between rivals that nearly happened, but didn’t quite get over the line… 


Gerrard is now seen as ‘Mr Liverpool’ having come through the team’s academy before going on to become of the club’s greatest ever players. Things could have been very different, though.

In 2005, Liverpool pulled off one of the best comebacks in Champions League history to beat AC Milan on penalties in the final. 

Yet they finished outside the top four that season, below their Merseyside rivals Everton, while Chelsea romped to their first title in 50 years.

Jose Mourinho’s team looked a formidable outfit, and the Portuguese coach wanted to make them even better by bringing in Gerrard.

The former midfielder has since admitted that he was tempted to switch Anfield for Stamford Bridge, but he eventually decided to stay with his boyhood club, and he would stick around for another decade before leaving in 2015.

Steven Gerrard resisted the temptation to join Chelsea, and ended up staying at Liverpool


United had won the Champions League in 2008, and then made the final again the following year, only to lose to Barcelona.

They lost Tevez and Ronaldo that summer, though, and in 2009-10, Chelsea held off United to win the league.

Rooney was not happy with the direction the club was heading in, and publicly criticised his employers, leading to speculation linking him with a move across to the blue side of Manchester. 

Seeing Rooney join Tevez at City would have been disastrous for United, but the ex-England captain had a change of heart, and opted to commit his future to the Old Trafford club.

He remained at United until 2017, departing as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Wayne Rooney was linked with a move to Man City, but decided to remain at Man United


After signing Modric in 2008, it did not take long for Tottenham fans to realise that they had a special player on their hands. Unfortunately for them, other clubs were also noticing Modric’s quality. 

In the summer of 2011, Chelsea made a £22m bid for the Croatian midfielder, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy rejected it as he did not want Modric moving to a Premier League rival.

Modric was reportedly furious at being stopped from moving to Stamford Bridge, but he did stay at Tottenham for another year before moving on to Real Madrid for £30m in 2012.

10 years on, it is clear as to why Chelsea wanted Modric, as he has since won five Champions League trophies with Los Blancos.

Chelsea wanted to sign Luka Modric, but Tottenham refused to sell to their London rivals

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