Eric Choupo-Moting tripped face-first exiting his flat and landed on an unlikely treasure. Imagine being the versatile Cameroonian attacker: You have joined Stoke City and scored five goals to go with five assists at the Potters, only to drop to the second tier following a decade-long stretch in the top flight.
Fear not, Eric, because you have got fortune on your side. Paris Saint-Germain came calling, signing the angular 29-year-old on a free transfer to join a decorated world-class attack. Doubters will say this makes no sense, while those aware of the capital city club’s fears of violating Financial Fair Play rules under Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s opulent reign will nod along in approval. He went from playing alongside Mame Biram Diouf and Ramadan Sobhi to Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus to PSG, 2018)
Gianluigi Buffon left Juventus last summer after a glittering 17-year career with the Italian giants. He won everything but the Champions League with Juve, and probably didn’t want to retire without having another crack at it.
In 2017/18, the Bianconeri came close to knocking out Real Madrid, but shot themselves in the foot in the last minute when they gave away a penalty which Cristiano Ronaldo calmly fired into the top corner. Buffon’s explosive reaction to the penalty decision got him sent off and rightly so, but also showed just how much he wanted to win the trophy. So, he opted to join a strong side consisting of Neymar, Di Maria, Cavani, Mbappe… However, it all went down the cracks as Paris Saint-Germain were eliminated in the round of 16 by Manchester United.
To make matters worse for Buffon, he was often rotated with Alphonse Areola between the sticks as Thomas Tuchel wanted to let the veteran know that he would have to fight for the starting spot. In an ironic turn of events, after one season away from Juventus, Buffon opted against retiring and returned to his former side. What makes it even more bizarre is the reason behind it – to overcome Serie A’s most appearances record holder, Paolo Maldini.
Kevin Prince Boateng (Sassuolo to Barcelona, 2019)
Probably the most recent one on our list of Weirdest Transfers of decade. Few players have put together as diverse a career as Kevin-Prince Boateng, who has gone from Hertha Berlin to Portsmouth to AC Milan and Schalke and back to AC Milan before a brief stop at Las Palmas and a DFB-Pokal-winning spell at Eintracht Frankfurt. However, Boateng’s 10th club is the biggest of them all. It was also the biggest surprise; their new centre-forward comes from left-field, unforeseen by anyone. The headlines in the Catalan papers came with exclamation marks. Boateng, the “hidden option”, “the surprise”, ran the front pages.
Barcelona had been searching for a back-up striker, someone to take some of the pressure, and the minutes, off Luis Suarez. The criteria was clear and it limited their options: they wanted a player with experience and the personality to contribute from the start, but prepared to be substitute. Someone cheap too, although the cumulative effects of hurried deals costs. And someone who could leave as easily, and fuss-free as he arrived. A short-term solution to a specific problem, which could have been foreseen in the summer.
Boateng struggled at Barca after making just three league appearances and returned to his parent club Sassuolo. He is playing for Fiorentina now.