The first YouTube video I ever made, and as such the first ever HITC Sevens video, was on the 7 weirdest football transfers of all time. That was over two years ago, and I like to think the channel has improved a bit since then. Today is a bit of a throwback then, as a sort of niche sub-section of that original HITC Sevens video.
There are certain transfers that cause you to a little double-take. Whether it’s a shock that a club has managed to pull off the coup of signing a player you’d have thought was beyond them, or equal disbelief that a club has been daft enough to sign someone clearly unfit to ever wear the shirt. And then there’s a third type of weird transfer just in the sense that it is a club and player you would never pair, and the deal has seemingly come totally out of the blue.
Those are the three types of transfers we’re interested in here, limited specifically to incoming Premier League loan deals.
Without further ado, here are my 7 weirdest Premier League loan deals:
7. Alexandre Pato – Chelsea
This is one that falls firmly into that third category of weird transfers laid out in the introduction. Alexandre Pato was an incredibly talented young player at AC Milan, whose searing pace and sharp eye for goal had marked him out as one of the finest prospects in world football before injuries began to tear apart his hamstring, his thigh and his career. Pato joining Chelsea for £50 million in 2009 would have seemed perfectly normal, but his arrival in 2016 was rather out of the blue. By that time, the Brazilian had been back playing in Brazil for the last three years, meanwhile Chelsea were enduring a miserable attempt to defend the Premier League title. Pato made just two appearances, scoring once, and despite claiming he was keen to make the move a permanent one, no such deal was ever struck.
6. Renato Sanches – Swansea City
A bizarre loan deal all-round in the sense that Renato Sanches’ arrival was considered a stroke of genius by Paul Clement, only for the young Portuguese midfielder to be almost totally ineffective in South Wales. Sanches had joined Bayern Munich in a deal that could have been worth as much as €125 million just 12 months earlier, and the idea of him joining relegation-threatened Swansea on-loan after he won the Euros with Portugal would have seemed more than a little far fetched. He did link-up with the Swans though, where injuries and a supposed lack of a willingness to learn saw him make only 15 appearances and fail to impress in any of them. Swansea were relegated at the end of the season and Sanches returned to Bayern.
5. Steven Caulker – Liverpool
I know Steven Caulker has come out in the last couple of years to reveal that he has had one or two mental health problems and struggles with addiction, so I am reluctant to criticise him and do of course hope he gets all the help he needs and is in a much better place now. Nevertheless, I have to include his 2016 loan to Liverpool, which looked bizarre even without the benefit of hindsight. Caulker had impressed at Tottenham as a youngster and at Cardiff, but I must admit I always thought the fan-fare surrounding him was a little over the top. By 2016, though, that had all calmed down, with Caulker contracted to Championship QPR and having barely featured in a half-season on-loan at Southampton. Caulker made just 8 appearances at Anfield, and only three in the Premier League, one as an emergency centre-forward. He returned to QPR in the summer, and his next two moves were to Dundee and Alanyaspor.
4. Andy Booth – Tottenham
Andy Booth’s career was a pretty straightforward one, making 393 league appearances for Huddersfield Town either side of playing 133 league games for Sheffield Wednesday. And then there’s just four league appearances for Tottenham Hotspur that stick out like a saw thumb in his career record. The former England under-21 international had scored just 3 goals in 19 games for second tier Sheffield Wednesday during the first half of the 2001-02 season when he joined Spurs, and even Tottenham director of football David Pleat didn’t seem convinced about the shock one-month loan. “I hope everything goes through cleanly and he enjoys his time here,” Pleat said, as though the striker had just won some kind of competition to get a deal with the club. Booth made four appearances, failing to score during his brief stint at White Hart Lane.
3. Andy Goram – Manchester United
There have been plenty of left-field transfers of goalkeepers to top Premier League clubs, typically as third or even fourth choices, such as Scott Carson to Man City this season. Andy Goram’s loan move to Manchester United was a bit different though, and much more worthy of inclusion in this seven. The eccentric English-born Scottish international had a nomadic and rarely dull career, starring for Oldham, Hibernian and Rangers but never without controversy. He joined Manchester United on-loan in 2001 whilst contracted to Motherwell in a move few could believe, and it was as action-packed as ever. Goram started only two games, getting subbed off in both of them, he fellout with Roy Keane – I know, imagine that, but also started the game in which United won a third consecutive Premier League title. An entertaining couple of months.
2. Kim Kallstrom – Arsenal
There was something very Arsenal about Kim Kallstrom’s loan move to the Emirates in 2014, and particularly the unusual backend of Arsene Wenger’s time with the club. A talented midfielder with a great left foot, Kim Kallstrom won 131 caps for Sweden, and spent his best years contracted to Lyon. It was whilst he was at Spartak Moscow though, in the autumn of his career, that Kallstrom joined Arsenal on-loan. It would have been an unusual move under any circumstances, but the fact that the Swede was injured – and his back injury actually showed up in his Arsenal medical but the club decided to push ahead anyway – made it an especially odd one. Injured for virtually the entirety of his time with the Gunners, Kallstrom made just 4 appearances and only one of them was a start.
1. Andy Kellett – Manchester United
Whilst most of the transfers in this seven were met with a raised eyebrow and the exclamation of a “really?”, or “seriously?”, this one was mostly responded to with the question, “Who’s Andy Kellett?”. Kellett was a 21-year-old midfielder who was struggling to get a game at Bolton and had been out on-loan earlier that season to Plymouth Argyle. Plymouth would be usurped on transfer deadline day in the winter of 2015 for Kellett by Manchester United of all clubs though, as Saidy Janko went on-loan to Bolton as part of the same move. Kellett made 10 appearances for United’s under-23’s, whose ranks he had been brought in to bolster, including a defeat to his parent club Bolton’s under-23 side. Unsurprisingly, United didn’t opt to make the transfer a permanent one, and Kellett is currently without a club most recently having played for Notts County.