Playing for a football club is almost like a marriage. The player and the club come together after believing that both of them would improve each other. If things go well after the signing, then the marriage lasts longer.
And if not, they break down. And just like how it happens in real life, some break-ups are really, really bad.
So much that the players actually come out and openly blast their clubs for the way they were treated during their stay. Hence, without further ado, here is a list of 5 players who insulted their former clubs in some way or the other.
5 Neymar – Barcelona
When Neymar joined Barcelona, he was supposed to lead them for the next decade or so and eventually succeed Lionel Messi as the main man at the Camp Nou. But sometimes in life, things don’t work out as one wants it to.
As Neymar dismantled Paris-Saint Germain in the Champions League earlier this year, inspiring a comeback after being down 4-0 from the first leg, it was Messi who became the star of the match with that picture.
Neymar knew, then, that he had to leave Barcelona in order to come out Messi’s shadow – and he did just that. When PSG came in with €222 million, Barcelona had no choice but to accept the offer since it met the release clause of the Brazilian.
And so he left – and it caused a massive uproar among the fans and also became the source of friction between the club and the player.
“I don’t have anything to say to the Barcelona board,” Neymar began. “For me … Well, actually I have something to say: That I am disappointed with them.
“I spent four years there and was very happy. I began happy, spent four years happy and left happy. But not with them. For me, they shouldn’t be in charge of Barca. Barca deserve much better, and everyone knows this.”
While he might be right, but saying these words after pushing for a move against the fans’ wishes might not be the best of things to do.
4 Pepe – Real Madrid
It is not a common sight to see a foreign player playing at Real Madrid for 10 long years. Indeed, it is a rare sight, one which isn’t often witnessed at a club whose management are known for changing things very quickly.
For someone like Pepe, it is even harder to believe that he managed to stay at the Bernabeu for 10 years. This is a man that kicked Javi Casquero like he was a football and yet managed to stay at the club. Most players would have been sold after that club image-denting move, but Pepe survived and was kept at the club.
However, after he finally departed from the club, he didn’t have many good things to say about them. One of the reasons for that was that the Blancos hierarchy refused to give him a contract of two years, opting for a yearlong extension instead.
This didn’t go down well with the Brazilian-born Portuguese, who had quite a few things to say.
“Madrid didn’t offer me two years,” the Portugal international said. “They just offered me one year, so it’s clear that I’m not going to continue with Real Madrid. There are ways of talking and negotiating but the club hasn’t acted correctly. That’s annoyed me.
“So I am not going to continue with the club. An era has come to an end and a new one will begin. In fact, I’ve already started the move. Most of my things are in Portugal and I just have my house in Madrid.”
He also insisted that the club didn’t back him enough when he was in a dispute with the tax authorities.
“The club didn’t defend me with the tax office issue. You know I have everything up to date but did you see the club defend me?”
And, finally, he also took a dig at the Real Madrid fans.
“Besiktas fans are fantastic. At times when playing for Real Madrid, we had to motivate ourselves as the fans were not so passionate. Here at Besiktas, every player heads onto the pitch fully motivated to perform well with the aid of great support”.
3 Mario Balotelli – Liverpool
The world of football is filled with mavericks. From the has-beens to the could-have-beens, this is a fraternity with a variety of members – and Mario Balotelli, even among those nonconformists, stands unique in his own way.
When he was rising to the top echelons of the game that is competitive football, he was known more for his antics than his astounding ability. Everybody knew that Inter had a special talent named Mario Balotelli, but they also knew that he was temperamental and had a good chance of wasting his precocious promise.
And they were right – at least partially. The fact that Balotelli has won numerous league titles as well as the Champions League works in his favour, but the fact that his individual trophy cabinet is almost empty proves that he didn’t do justice to the talent that he had or perhaps still has.
At Liverpool, the Balotelli-aficionados were hopeful that the Italian would finally work hard and get to where he belongs. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t to be as Jurgen Klopp let him go for free after surmising that he couldn’t work with the former Milan man.
And Balotelli, obviously, had some things to say.
“It was the worst mistake of my life,” Balotelli said. “Apart from the fans, who were fantastic with me, I must be honest, and the players, who I had a good rapport with, I didn’t like the club.
“I had two coaches, Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp. As people they didn’t make a good impression on me. I didn’t get along with them.”
2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrote an entire book based on his strenuous life at Barcelona, such was his pain at the Camp Nou, which was absurd considering that Pep Guardiola actually swapped one of his best strikers, Samuel Eto’o, to bring the Swede to the club.
It was also Ibrahimovic’s dream to play for the Catalan outfit, but his dream turned into a nightmare when Lionel Messi insisted that he be played in the centre and not on the right like he was being played at that time.
Obviously, Pep Guardiola obliged and played his star man in the middle as the false 9. But he had to sacrifice someone and that certain someone was Ibrahimovic. This didn’t go down well with the former Juventus man as he was dismayed at being shown the cold shoulder so easily.
“I had a dream to come to Barcelona. But afterwards I am thinking that maybe you should keep your dreams, instead of making it come true.”
He was also left befuddled by the culture of Barcelona, which saw even the likes of Messi and Iniesta behave my school boys.
“I’d already got the impression that Barcelona was a little like being back at Ajax, it was like being back at school. None of the lads acted like superstars, which was strange.
“Messi, Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, the whole gang – they were like schoolboys. The best footballers in the world stood there with their heads bowed, and I didn’t understand any of it. It was ridiculous.
“When I realised I would be on the bench for a game against Almeria, I remembered that line: ‘Here in Barcelona we don’t turn up to training sessions in Porsches or Ferraris.’ What kind of nonsense was that, anyway?”
1 Dani Alves – Barcelona
Barcelona are not entirely known for their ability to make good signings in the transfer market. If one looks at the history of the club, they will find more failed signings than success stories. From Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Keirrison, Barcelona have repeatedly shown that their decision-making, when it comes to signing players, isn’t up there with their skills as a team.
However, there is always a case of anomalies in life – and Dani Alves’ signing from Sevilla is just that. Dani Alves is perhaps the greatest signing the club made in this millennium. The volatile Brazilian was one of their best players and was the most important link with Lionel Messi.
While a lot of people claim that it was Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez that played the biggest role in helping Messi on the pitch, it was actually the bursting runs of Alves that spread the opponent’s defence and allowed Messi to shine in space.
However, according to Alves himself, he wasn’t shown the respect that he best right-back in the history of Barcelona was worthy of.
“I like to be loved and when I’m not loved, I leave,” Alves said to ABC. “Leaving Barcelona on a free was a classy punch.
“During my last three seasons [at Barça] they always used to say Alves is leaving, but the directors never said anything to me. They were extremely false and ungrateful. They did not respect me.
“I was only offered a new deal when the FIFA transfer ban came in. That was when I played them at their own game and signed a deal with a termination clause.
“Those who run Barcelona today have no idea how to treat their players.”