Lionel Messi looks set to call time on his legendary Barcelona career having handed in a transfer request at the Nou Camp.
The Argentine icon wants out at Barca following their torrid campaign last term and Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.
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Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan are currently the favourites to land the 33-year-old following this week’s news that he sent a fax to Barcelona bosses saying he wishes to exercise a clause in his contract.
He is now set to leave on a free in what will become one of the biggest transfers in football history.
Below, talkSPORT.com looks at other bizarre transfers and career moves of players and managers.
19. Steven Caulker makes a surprise switch to Liverpool
Steven Caulker barely featured for Liverpool
Even Caulker, who was on loan at Southampton from QPR, was surprised by the move.
“It came as a bit of a shock as I’d had a bit of a frustrating time at Southampton and not had any game time,” he told the Liverpool Echo, explaining he couldn’t turn the move down.
The defender joined in the 2016 January transfer window as cover, but played just four games – mostly as a striker off the bench – with the deal being cut short when he entered into rehab following a string of off field problems.
In an interview with the Guardian in June 2017, Caulker revealed he has battled with depression for most of his career.
18. Ruud Gullit joined Chelsea, who were mediocre at best
Ruud Gullit was a marquee signing for Chelsea
In 1995 the Blues picked up the bargain of the summer as they landed Dutch hero Gullit, a two-time European Cup winner and recipient of the European Footballer of the Year award.
Chelsea were nowhere near the glamorous side of today and after Gullit struggled to get going in a sweeper role, Glenn Hoddle moved him into midfield and he was soon flying.
Before his arrival, signings included Scott Minto and Paul Furlong, but by the end of the decade it was Marcel Desailly and Gianfranco Zola joining.
17. Diego Maradona moves to Napoli
Diego Maradona transformed Napoli into a title-winning side
In the 1980s there were not many better players than Diego Maradona, so it was quite a surprise when Napoli, a team who avoided relegation from Serie A by a point, signed him from Barcelona in 1984.
His time in Spain had been short, but memorable as it was littered with genius, controversy and injury. He scored 45 goals in 73 games, won the 1983 Spanish Cup and his brilliance was acknowledged by Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu during one game.
However, his stay ended on a sour note when he was involved in a mass brawl with Athletic Bilbao players in the 1984 Spanish Cup final.
In Italy, though, he helped win the club’s only two league titles, while he also won the UEFA Cup and Italian Cup.
16. Champions League winner Fabrizio Ravanelli swaps Juve for Boro
Fabrizio Ravanelli suffered relegation with Middlesbrough
Ravanelli won the Champions League in May 1996, scoring in the final as Juventus beat Ajax on penalties.
By July he was playing for Middlesbrough, a club that had won promotion to the top-flight a year earlier. During his one full Premier League season, Ravanelli scored 31 goals in all competitions and helped Bryan Robson’s side to the finals of the FA Cup and League Cup.
Sadly though, Boro were relegated and lost both finals and he moved on to Marseille.
15. Roberto Mancini at Leicester City
Roberto Mancini’s transfer came out of nowhere
Thirteen years before Leicester pulled off their Esteban Cambiasso coup, the club shocked everyone when they managed to sign Roberto Mancini from Lazio on a month’s loan in January.
Before that he spent 15 years at Sampdoria and won the title, four Italian Cups and the Cup Winners Cup. When he won the competition again, this time with Lazio, in 1999 he counted Alessandro Nesta, Pavel Nedved and Christian Vieri as team-mates.
Colleagues at Filbert Street, meanwhile, included Andy Impey, Steve Guppy and Ade Akinbiyi. Mancini left in February to become boss at Fiorentina.
14. Attilio Lombardo flies into south London
Attilio Lombardo was a player-manager at Selhurst Park
Lombardo played in a very good Sampdoria team, winning the title in 1991 and finishing runners-up to Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup final. However, after struggling to find his feet at Juventus, Lombardo flew the nest to join Palace in 1997.
Soon, his talents saw him crowned the Bald Eagle as he lit up Selhurst Park before becoming player-manager.
13. Ballon d’Or winner Kevin Keegan moves to Southampton
Kevin Keegan rejected Juventus and Barcelona to join Southampton
Keegan left Liverpool for German club Hamburg in 1977, and during his three seasons in the Bundesliga he won two European Footballer of the Year awards and appeared in the 1980 European Cup final.
He could have had his pick of clubs, but the likes of Juventus and Barcelona were snubbed in favour of Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton, who had been promoted to the First Division in 1978. It was a great piece of business from the Saints.
12. Bebe arrives at Manchester United
Bebe’s time with Manchester United was not a success
Who? That’s what most people said when the Red Devils announced a deal for unknown Portugal winger Bebe in 2010.
He’d never even played for his previous club when Sir Alex Ferguson swooped, persuaded by Carlos Queiroz, and in the end he made just four Premier League appearances before leaving Old Trafford in 2014.
11. Brian Clough takes over at the club he hates
Brian Clough did not last long at Leeds
Clough didn’t hide his contempt for Leeds’ style under Don Revie, so it was a shock when he took the manager’s job at Elland Road in 1974 after his spell at Brighton and Derby.
Despite his criticism of Leeds, the move was a no-brainer for Clough given they were league champions, but his stint only lasted 44 days before he was sacked.
10. Ron Saunders leaves Aston Villa right before European glory for rivals Birmingham!
The move was very controversial
Villa were on course to win the European Cup when Saunders left in February 1982 to take over at rivals Birmingham. During his time at the helm, Saunders won two League Cups and is also the man who guided Villa to their first league title in 71 years when the club became First Division champions in 1981.
It was a glorious period for the club, but disagreements with the board saw him resign and leave Tony Barton to lead the club to victory in the European Cup final. Birmingham, meanwhile, were relegated two years later.
9. Claudio Caniggia at Dundee
Claudio Caniggia was international team-mates with Diego Maradona
A number of jaws dropped when Dundee manager Ivano Bonetti brought international Caniggia to the club in 2000. After all, here was a man who had shared the pitch with Diego Maradona at the 1990 World Cup and the 33-year-old had his eyes on winning a place in the squad for the 2002 edition in Japan and Korea.
In his debut against Aberdeen, Caniggia came off the bench to score in a 2-0 win at Pittodrie and later moved to Rangers.
8. Edgar Davids joins Barnet
Edgar Davids spent two years at Barnet
It was surprising enough when Davids, a former Inter, Ajax and Juventus midfielder, came out of retirement after two years to play for Crystal Palace in 2010. That lasted for seven games.
Then it emerged he was managing Sunday League club Brixton United before, at the age of 37, he became head coach of League Two club Barnet in 2012.
He also played for the club but resigned in 2014.
7. Tommy Lawton at Notts County
Tommy Lawton was a household name
County have been involved in their share of bizarre deals in recent years – Eriksson and Campbell etc – but this takes some beating.
Lawton was a goal king, who had scored 22 times in 23 England appearances along with 34 goals in 38 games for Everton, as they won the First Division title in 1939 before he moved to Chelsea in 1945. There he scored 35 times in 53 games, but moved to Notts County in the Third Division South next.
The club paid £20,000 in November 1947 for 28-year-old Lawton who dropped down two divisions to link up with his friend and manager Arthur Stollery.
6. When Allan Simonsen swapped Barcelona for Charlton!
Allan Simonsen spent just one season at Charlton
Simonsen was the European Player of the Year in 1977, a year he played and scored for Borussia Monchengladbach in the European Cup final defeat to Liverpool.
He won the UEFA Cup with the German club in 1975 and 1979, and then sealed a move to the glamorous Barcelona. After winning the Cup Winners Cup there he swapped the Camp Nou for the Valley and joined Second Division Charlton for £300,000 in 1982.
It didn’t work out as well as was hoped for the south Londoners, who struggled to pay their star player and after nine goals in 17 games he headed back to his native Denmark while Charlton teetered on the brink of financial collapse.
5. Thomas Gravesen the Galactico?
Thomas Gravesen was a no-nonsense midfielder
Gravesen was a tough midfielder who found favour at Everton under the management of David Moyes. Madrid, meanwhile, perhaps mindful of the mistake they made in selling unsung defensive midfielder Claude Makelele to Chelsea while stockpiling ‘Galacticos’, signed Gravesen in 2005.
The Bernabeu crowd, used to watching Zinedine Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo, weren’t particularly impressed with the Danish hard nut’s style of play, and he was nearly sold before Christmas and after he got stuck in to team-mate Robinho during a training session, the writing was on the wall.
Gravesen was sold to Celtic in 2006 and wasn’t much better. For bizarre Real deals, see also Julien Faubert.
4. Dale Jennings: Tranmere to Bayern
The move did not work out
Having lit up League One when he broke into the Tranmere first team in the 2010/11 season, tricky winger Jennings signed for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich at the age of 18.
The club even sent Dietmar Hamann to his house to persuade him to join; the former Liverpool player having recommended him.
Jennings knew he’d find it tough to break into the first-team, and was placed with Bayern’s second string, but injuries right from the start saw his progress stutter. ‘I had a year left on my contract and I had to think ‘am I really going to get in this team?’ Once my girlfriend was pregnant I knew it was time to come back,” he later said.
Jennings played for Barnsley and MK Dons on his return but the 27-year-old was last seen in a Runcorn Town shirt.
3. Juventus swoop for Boro reject Ronnie O’Brien
Ronnie O’Brien’s game time was limited at Juve
Forget Bendtner at Juve, this was even stranger. Having played alongside the likes of Damien Duff and Robbie Keane for Republic of Ireland’s youth teams, O’Brien seemed set for a decent future, but he was released by Middlesbrough in 1999 at the age of 20.
No bother for the Irishman, though, as Serie A giants Juventus swooped.
Sadly, despite being on their books for three years, he rarely played with the exception of three Intertoto Cup matches.
O’Brien was sent out on four loan spells before being released in 2002. He moved to America afterwards and last played for San Jose Earthquakes in 2008.
2. Wayne Rooney swaps America for Derby
Rooney is now at Derby under manager Phillip Cocu
Rooney enjoyed a 13-year successful career with Manchester United, winning five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a League Cup and a Champions League trophy.
He moved back to boyhood club Everton in 2017 before joining MLS side DC United a year later.
But, in news which came out of nowhere, Rooney sealed a move to Championship club Derby in January, where is working as a player-coach.
1. Mo Johnston pitches up in the ‘wrong’ part of Glasgow
Mo Johnston eventually won over Rangers fans
Johnston’s arrival at Rangers in 1989 managed to anger fans on both sides of the Glasgow divide.
Having scored 52 goals in three seasons at Celtic, Johnston spent two years at Nantes in France and was expected to don the green and white shirt on his return to the Scottish league. He was even pictured in the summer of 1989 wearing the Celtic shirt alongside Hoops boss Billy McNeill, and said: “There is no other British club I could play for apart from Celtic.”
But nothing had been officially signed and Rangers manager Graeme Souness – no stranger to controversy – pounced and took Johnston to Ibrox, making him the club’s first major Catholic signing. Johnston slowly won over Gers fans, thanks to 31 goals in 76 games, plus wildly celebrating his goal in the Old Firm derby.
1. Johnston pitches up in the ‘wrong’ part of Glasgow – Mo Johnston eventually won over Rangers fans