Adoring fans, captaincy, legend status: would you throw all of these away for a title? Some have, and for those that do, there’s no turning back.
For some players, loyalty in football does not exist, and a number of them have turned down the chance of becoming cult heroes for their own personal gain.
While they may be received with boos and abuse when they go back to their old clubs, the chance of glory proved just too much to resist.
We take a look at six high-profile players from past and present who burned their bridges in a quest to win titles.
Robin van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United, 2012)
‘The little boy inside me screamed Manchester United ’. Yeah, except we’ve all seen that photo of you as a boy surrounded by Arsenal memorabilia, Robin.
Robin van Persie was Arsenal’s captain fantastic and goal machine, fresh off winning a PFA Player of the Year award. He was fast becoming a hero, on the path to legend. He had it all. everything except…trophies.
Enter Manchester United, with 12 Premier League titles and an empty space upfront.
RVP set fire to his Arsenal bridges that summer, joined Manchester United for a paltry £24million, scored a lot of goals and won the Premier League nine months later.
Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001)
Cast your mind back to when Arsenal won titles. Sift through your memories – it may take some time.
But it’s true, they did, I know because it’s on Wikipedia.
Campbell was so good that he, a defender, was on the front cover of FIFA 2000.
Spurs were ready to make him their best paid player, but the brilliant centre-back went and joined their north London rivals anyway – after saying on record that he would never play for them.
Cue cries of ‘Judas’, but Campbell didn’t care, as years later he would take home a golden Premier League trophy after Arsenal won the Premier League unbeaten.
A decade later Arsenal would begin to pay their karmic debt as all of their stars began leaving for title-winning teams.
Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli to Juventus, 2016)
Napoli’s free-scoring striker Gonzalo Higuain had grabbed 71 goals in 104 league appearances and helped his side to an impressive second-place finish in Serie A in the 2015-2016 campaign.
That’s right, second.
If you want to win a title in Serie A the best way to do it is join the team that’s won five in a row.
Juventus forked out £75 million for Higuain that summer, and the Argentine’s face duly appeared on toilet paper all over Naples.
Higuain blamed his relationship with the Napoli owner, but we’ve all heard that before.
He quickly won two Serie A titles on the bounce, and after two loan spells at Milan and Chelsea, he looks good for another this season once we’re back underway.
Luis Figo (Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000)
Some players leave because they know, in their heart of hearts, their current club cannot win the title.
But Luis Figo had won La Liga twice with Barcelona and STILL moved to Real Madrid.
Some transfers are just unforgiveable. It’s not like you’re leaving Nicklas Bendtner behind. Rivaldo was there!
Real Madrid’s galacticos project came calling with a world record fee and then Figo had the nerve to go and win a Balon D’or too.
Jeers when the sides met were so loud players had to cover their ears. Objects rained down upon the pitch. Famously, a pig’s head was among the debris.
But Figo won two more titles so, swings and roundabouts.
Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund to Bayern Munich, 2014)
Some people know when their side has peaked. Robert Lewandowski had just won the Bundesliga twice with Borussia Dortmund, and it’s always impressive to win the Bundesliga with a club that isn’t Bayern Munich.
Sensing that it was unlikely to happen again, Lewandowski joined Bayern Munich.
The Polish striker was certainly on his way to greatness in the yellow shirt, but sacrificed such adoration for more titles.
To be fair, you can’t keep a statue at home in your medal cabinet, but you can keep a medal at home in your medal cabinet.
And Lewandowski has won five more with Bayern.
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool to Manchester City, 2015)
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