Words: James Beardsworth 
Images: Offside Sports Photography

Kevin-Prince Boateng’s off to Barcelona. Weird one, that. And then there was Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano at West Ham. A weird... and illegal one.

And it got us thinking: what’s the weird signing XI? Playing 4-3-1-2, the almost-Christmas Tree formation, here are our picks.

Goalkeeper—Richard Wright (Man City)

After leaving Preston after just a week on the grounds he was ‘homesick’, Wright signed for Man City just thirty miles up the road. Joining as a backup for Hart and Pantilimon, Wright went on to never concede a goal for City. Because he never played a minute for them. That’s the joke.

Right Back—Tyrone Mears (Marseille)

Mears signed for the French giants on a season-long loan from Championship side Derby County in 2008/2009. Fined six weeks wages and told he’ll never play for Derby again for contacting with Marseille without Derby’s permission, Mears featured seven times for Marseille who decided to pass up on the option to buy him for 1.5 million at the end of the season.

Centre Back—Steven Caulker (Liverpool)

Signed by Klopp as defensive cover for the injuries of Lovren and Škrtel, Caulker cut his loan deal at Southampton short to sign for Liverpool. However, in his three appearances for Liverpool, Caulker came on as twice in the dying minutes as a centre forward. Needless he was not very effective.

Centre Back—Li Weifeng (Everton)

Li Weifeng (yes, him!) joined Everton as part of a sponsorship deal Everton struck with Chinese company Keijan after representing China in 2002’s World Cup. Li played twice for the Toffees before returning to Shenzhen in 2002. Li Weifeng walked so that Dong Fangzhuo could run.

Left Back—Edgar Davids (Barnet)

Okay, so not really a left back per se, but he definitely played there once or twice after joining as Barnet a part-time player, part-time coach. Davids’ move was probably the weirdest signing in football since he signed for Palace just two years before. Either way, the move went alright until Barnet were relegated to the Conference and Davids gave himself the number 1 jersey and refused to travel to away games. Funnily enough, it all started to go to pot after that like.

Centre Midfield—Kim Källström (Arsenal)

The man signed with a broken back. And Arsenal knew that.

Centre Midfield—Damiano Tommasi (QPR)

An instrumental figure in Roma’s classic 2001 scudetto win (the last hurrah for Serie A as the world’s greatest league) who Fabio Capello named as the club’s most important player, his move to QPR seven years later was... less successful. A weird signing even for a weird club going through a bit of a funny phase, Tomassi signed in September and was gone by January. Off he popped to China’s Tianjin Teda before settling at lower-league Italian team Sant'Anna d'Alfaedo. Now he’s the chairman of the Italian Footballers’ Association. Fair play to him.

Centre Midfield—Eric Djemba-Djemba (St. Mirren)

His move to Man United wasn’t strange. After a great World Cup, Fergie thought he’d unearthed a gem only for it to turn out to be a particularly dull looking pebble. After decent spells around Europe post-Old Trafford, Djemba-Djemba was bang up for rehabbing his image in Britain and signed for St. Mirren. St. Mirren! Three games over the space of one solitary season was enough for “St. Mirren’s biggest ever signing” to have his contract terminated. Rehab doesn’t always take, I guess.

Free Role—Robert Pirès (Aston Villa)

Gérard Houllier took a punt on Pirès after he was released from Villarreal the season before. For a winger that had never been blessed with pace, Robert certainly hadn’t got any quicker by the age of 37. After slamming assistant-manager Gary McAllister for not using him off the bench on his return to Arsenal, Pirès disappeared off to India for one last hurrah. At least he’s handsome, eh?

Striker—Shefki Kuqi (Newcastle)

The journeyman Yugoslavia-born Finnish striker with a habit of celebrating his (to be fair, not infrequent) goals by throwing himself high into the air only to crash back to the ground again. Well, he certainly came to earth with a bump (!) after the heady days of 7 in 17 for TuS Koblenz with a move to Newcastle. In the Premier League, admitting he was surprised by the move himself, Kuqi said he was “one of the happiest footballers in the world”. The subsequent six games without a goal before being released really tested that.

Striker—Adrian Pătulea (Lincoln City)

Not a whole lot of pace in this front two, granted. But, given that he netted 11 goals in 31 games for the Imps, perhaps his move made some sense. But for the very fact he was spotted running around the training ground with his naked girlfriend strapped to his back allegedly to get the attention of his manager Peter Jackson, this Romanian bagsman has to go in. Currently on five goals in six games for Omonia Aradippou in the Cypriot Second Division, though. So if anyone's in the market for a striker this January...

We cover football all over the world in MUNDIAL Magazine, from non-league to Champions League. Subscribe to it here.


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