VII Players Who Were Reborn After Being Cast Aside by Their Clubs

Football is a funny sport. Rarely do we see superstars maintain their level throughout their career, with many players facing highs, lows and everything in between.

Sometimes, players and clubs are simply not good matches, but there are also examples of players just needing that elusive chance to prove themselves. Regardless, a change of club can be the right answer.

Here are seven players who revived their careers after being cast aside by their club.


Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah‘s career started off like so many others. He was a hot prospect after breaking through at Basel, but a switch to ​Chelsea in 2014 just didn’t work out. He had shown flashes of excitement, but rarely had fans off their seats.

He joined Roma on loan in 2015 and impressed enough to earn himself a permanent move a year later. In total, he managed 34 goals and 22 assists in 83 appearances, which sounds like a reborn career, right? Well, we’re just getting started.

That time with Roma led to a move to ​Liverpool in 2017, where Salah has erupted. He helped turn Liverpool into European champions and he finished fifth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or. How’s that for a career revival?


Kevin De Bruyne

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Yet another example of a player reinventing themselves after leaving Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne’s career risked stalling after his spell at Stamford Bridge came to an abrupt end in 2014.

An £18m move to Wolfsburg proved to be the spark De Bruyne needed, as the Belgian took the opportunity to prove to the world that he was the elite creator many felt he had the potential to become. He bagged 20 goals and 37 assists in just two seasons, before landing in ​Manchester City.​

De Bruyne is now one of the ​Premier League‘s elite talents, and his disappointing spell with Chelsea is well and truly behind him.


Esteban Cambiasso

Esteban Cambiasso

What’s most interesting about Esteban Cambiasso’s career is that he had to revive himself after leaving ​Real Madrid on two separate occasions.

Part of Los Blancos’ academy, Cambiasso was allowed to return to Argentina in 1998 after struggling to prove himself, but four years in senior football convinced Real to bring him back. However, he couldn’t hold down a permanent spot in the team, starting just nine games in his final season, and was ultimately released in 2004.

​​Inter took a chance on him and he did not disappoint. Cambiasso made 431 appearances for I Nerazzurri, winning five ​Serie A titles and the 2009/10 ​Champions League.


Nicolas Anelka

Nicolas Anelka

One of the hottest attacking prospects around in 1997, Nicolas Anelka lived up to that billing after joining ​Arsenal. He earned a £22.3m move to Real Madrid two years later, but that’s when things came unstuck.

The Frenchman managed just seven goals in 33 appearances and was quickly discarded, but he soon rebuilt his reputation back with PSG.

Anelka then went on to represent the likes of ​Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, scoring a total of 208 goals before retiring in 2015.


Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

After blossoming into one of the Premier League’s finest strikers with Everton, Romelu Lukaku earned himself a move to Manchester United in 2017, but his time at Old Trafford yielded mixed results.

Things began well but quickly fell away, and by the time 2019 arrived, many fans were keen to see the back of him as they felt he had nothing to offer anymore.

It turned out that all he needed was a dietary change, and Inter were the ones to give him that. Lukaku has been back to his dominant best under Antonio Conte and is proving all his doubters wrong.


Edin Džeko

Edin Dzeko

Edin Džeko burst on to the scene with Wolfsburg in 2007, firing the team to an unlikely ​Bundesliga title in 2009 and earning himself a move to Manchester City soon after. He won two league titles in England, but rarely looked like an elite talent.

A loan to Roma saved the day, with Džeko eventually finding the kind of form which had him in the conversation for Europe’s top marksman. He fired home 29 goals in his second season at the club, which was nearly double his best numbers with City.

He was on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2017 and continues to score an abundance of goals for Roma, which is why he is still regularly linked with blockbuster moves back to England.


Jérôme Boateng

Jerome Boateng

Manchester City spent a long time pursuing a 21-year-old ​​Jérôme Boateng, and they eventually got their man in 2010. However, almost as soon as he arrived at the club, it became clear that City didn’t know what to do with him.

Against his wishes, Boateng spent plenty of time as a right-back, and he eventually pushed for a move to ​Bayern Munich as he wanted to join a club who would play him in his preferred central role. In hindsight, that was a good shout.

A core part of one of the most dominant sides in Bundesliga history, Boateng has already lifted seven league titles and the 2012/13 Champions League, and he’s still got time to add to that.


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FIFA Propose Extending Expiring Contracts & Delaying Transfers to Finish Domestic Campaigns

Players looking to move when their contracts expire on 30 June will be made to stay at their current clubs until the season is completed, in proposals outlined in a new FIFA document.

The measures are part of the governing bodies plans to deal with the effects of the coronavirus on the football season. 

Extending the campaign beyond the end of June – when many players’ contracts run out – has been a subject of significant contention in discussions about how best to complete this term’s remaining fixtures.

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However, a new document presented to FIFA’s coronavirus working group, via The Ti​mes, says the crisis constitutes a “force majeure” – an unforeseen situation that can allow contracts to not be fulfilled. This also permits FIFA to introduce emergency powers such as restrictions on transfers until the season is complete. 

“This is an unprecedented time for football,” an extract from the document in which this plan is outlined begins. “It is very likely that any such completion will occur after the original end date of the season.” 

“Article 27 of the Regulations on the status and transfer of players (RSTP) states that cases of force majeure shall be decided by the Fifa council, whose decisions are final.”

“The proposals, the details of which were being discussed by Fifa’s high command today, have been drawn up by the organisation’s working group on Covid-19 and also recommends that clubs work with players and staff on deferred or reduced salaries ‘by reasonable amounts for any period of work stoppage’.”

Player contracts usually run from 1 July until 30 June, but FIFA argue that these dates are only chosen because they coincide with the football season. Therefore, ‘the true intention of all parties’ is to employ players for the duration of the campaign. 

These plans could even delay transfer that have already been agreed, such as Hakim Ziyech’s move to ​Chelsea. 

Some players who have agreed deals which included a significant pay rise could also stand to lose a significant amount of their earnings. Thus, FIFA’s decision seems likely to face a legal challenge.


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UEFA Still Aiming to Finish Football Season on 30 June as Scheduling Plans Are Drawn Up

Football executives from around Europe took part in a conference call on Tuesday and agreed that they still plan on finishing the season on 30 June.

The representatives from the European Club Association and European leagues gathered in front of their webcams to discuss plans to resume playing as quickly as it is safe to do so. 

The coronavirus pandemic has already postponed the European Championship and the Olympics until next year, with the main target for UEFA being to make sure the domestic season can finish in time to begin again in the autumn.

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​Sky Sports has reported that that the main focus is ‘adapting the existing football calendar to include the scheduling of more domestic league matches in midweek, and the remaining ​Champions League and Europa League matches on weekends’. 

While this would cause a fixture clog, especially for clubs like ​Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain who are still competing for the Champions League title, the postponement of international matches for the remainder of the season should allow for all the remaining football to played, albeit in an unusual calendar.

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Each European league presented their own predicted scenario which was based on the state of the virus within their country. The virus was said to have first appeared in Europe in the Lombardy region of Italy, where this season’s surprise package Atalanta play their football, meaning that they are significantly further ahead than the rest of Europe and may potentially be able to resume playing before countries like the UK, who are only just adopting severe restrictions.

The news that domestic football is planned to resume will no doubt be welcome news to fans, for whom football is often their escape during times of adversity. During World War 2, special wartime leagues were set up in Britain to keep the people’s morale up, with famous stars of the era guest featuring for different teams in one-off appearances. 

The necessity for social distancing in this crisis, however, outweighs the importance of football, but the sooner it can be resumed the better with Gary Neville ​saying: “It’ll be a joyous occasion and we’ll all appreciate the game much more.”

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In the meantime, the two UEFA working groups – one to talk about the resumption of football and the other to discuss the impacts of the virus – will continue to meet from home until the game can resume. 

Until then, it’s important that fans adopt the practices of the sport and stay safe.

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Juventus’ Isolation Period Ends – But Players Will Continue to Train From Home

​When Daniele Rugani tested positive for the coronavirus following Juventus’ 2-0 victory over Inter in March, there were immediate fears surrounding the wellbeing of both sets of stars. 

And so it came to pass, as a further two players in I Bianconeri’s squad contracted the virus, with the entire coaching and playing staff being put in complete isolation for the foreseeable future. 

Daniele Rugani

Fortunately for all the staff at Juve – including owner Andrea Agnelli, they are now free to leave the house should they wish to do so. But ​La Gazzetta reports that the trio who tested positive must remain in isolation as they continue their recovery from the deadly virus. 

Rugani was the first player to test positive for the virus in Turin, while Blaise Matuidi and ​Paulo Dybala were later found to have caught the virus. All three have assured supporters that they are in good condition during their ongoing battle with the illness. 

For the Juventus players however, it’s back to work. But given the severity of the situation across the nation, the squad will not be required to train together. Instead, Juve’s stars will follow strict and personalised programs that coach Maurizio Sarri and his backroom staff have organised for each player. 

The aim is to keep the team in decent shape and as close as possible to their normal fitness levels during this period of uncertainty, with no real knowledge of when the season is likely to recommence. At that moment, however, ​Juventus could risk having to make do without five important players. 

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​Cristiano Ronaldo​Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira and Douglas Costa all returned to their homeland in recent weeks, escaping the most heavily-affected country in all of Europe. 

If the current laws don’t change, the quintet will have to serve 14 days of isolation upon their return to Italy, putting them further behind in Sarri’s recovery schedule. 

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Inter 2-3 Juventus: Remembering When Gonzalo Higuaín Stole the Scudetto From Napoli

  • Serie A is slow and boring.
  • Gonzalo Higuaín is the biggest bottler in the history of professional football. 
  • Serie A ​hasn’t been competitive this decade because Juventus have walked the league every season. 

After a first half in which Juventus raced into a one goal lead against a ten-man Inter at San Siro, all of the aforementioned Italian football myths seemed to be true.

Serie A was it’s ‘usual boring old self because Juve were better than everyone else’, Juve were moving four points clear of Napoli in the title race, and Gonzalo Higuaín was still a ‘bottler’ because he still hadn’t scored that goal – the significant one which wins his team some silverware. 

De Suoza Douglas Costa

But in the second half something changed. 

Because in the second half Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters plodded out onto the pitch and busted some myths!…or, you know, Inter woke up and mounted a miraculous comeback to take a 2-1 lead- courtesy of a Mauro Icardi goal and an Andrea Barzagli own goal – to set the stage for another miraculous comeback. 

Juve’s miraculous comeback.

With just five minutes remaining Juan Cuadrado would level the scores in fortuitous fashion, before Higuaín banished his ‘big game bottler’ tag with a last minute header to win the game – and title – for La Vecchia Signora. 

Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain

Big game Higgy. 


Juventus 

Key Talking Point

During this near decade of domestic dominance for Juventus – contrary to popular belief – they have had plenty of serious title challengers. 

Juve pipped Milan to the post in 2011/12, AS Roma challenged for a bit after that, and then Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli burst onto the scene playing the best football in Europe (by quite a distance). 

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Throughout the 2017/18 season, it’s more than fair to say that Napoli were the best team in Italy – because, you know, they were. And that’s not just my opinion, just a week prior to the game this article is about, I Partenopei went to the Allianz Stadium and beat Juve 1-0 in their own back yard. 

So going into week 35 of the season, while Juve still held a one-point lead atop the table, the momentum was with Napoli and the title was considered to be theirs to lose. 

In week 35 of the season, they lost it. 

And Juventus won it…largely because of how much more experienced they were in these high-pressure, title-destination deciding, defining moments – as their domestic double the previous season attests. 

Giovanni Simeone

Juve secured a dramatic comeback victory over one of the best teams in Italy on the Saturday evening, and Napoli would crumble under the pressure on Sunday at Fiorentina, allowing Diego Simeone’s son to score a hat trick against them. 

Napoli spurned their best chance to win the Scudetto in 30 years, and Juventus capitalised.


Juventus Player Ratings

Starting XI: Buffon (6); Cuadrado (6), Rugani (6), Barzagli (5), Alex Sandro (4); Khedira (5), Pjanic (4), Matuidi (5); Costa (8), Higuaín (8), Mandzukic (7). 

Substitutes: Dybala (7), Bentancur (5), Bernardeschi (7). 


Gonzalo Higuaín

‘Higuaín cost Lionel Messi the World Cup!’

‘Higuaín is a bottler!’ 

‘My granny is a better forward than Higuaín!’ 

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These are just some of the things that have been shouted at Pipita over the years, but this game went some way (for some…mostly Serie A followers and not the Messi fanboys of the world) to banishing the memory of that World Cup final miss. 

As in this game, with the Scudetto on the line, Gonzalo Higuaín came up trumps.

In the 88th minute, he headed home at the back post to win Juventus the Scudetto.  


Inter

Key Talking Point

It’s easy to forget that, pre-Christmas, Inter were right smack bang in the title race. In fact, up until the 16 December, they’d gone 15 games unbeaten and dropped just eight points. 

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However, just as they did in this game, when fans’ optimism and expectations had peaked, they completely collapsed – following up their 15 game unbeaten run with eight games without a win…yeah not great.

Still, it was a largely positive season for I Nerazzuri in which they qualified for the Champions League with one of the final kicks of the campaign in straight shootout with Lazio, and lay the foundations for what is now a bloody good football team. 


Inter Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Handanovic (6); Cancelo (7), Skriniar (5), Miranda (6), D’Ambrosio (5); Vecino (2), Brozovic (7), Rafinha (6); Candreva (5), Icardi (7), Perisic (6). 

Substitutes: Santon (5), Valero (5). 


Mauro Icardi

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Love him or hate him (you probably hate him if you’re not Wanda), you can’t deny that Mauro Icardi was absolutely outstanding during the 2017/18 season, scoring 29 Serie A goals and announcing himself as a world-class number nine. 

This game, for Icardi at least, was no different to pretty much every other in this campaign because he scored. He’s pretty good at doing that. 


Things That Aged the Best

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The Juventus kit: God I miss those stripes…there used to be so many of them… 

Marcelo Brozovic and Milan Skriniar: Both played in this game – fairly well – and both have gone on to become two of the very best in their respective positions in the world. 

Non-Cristiano Ronaldo Juventus: It is easy to forgot how much more fluid Juve were pre-Ronaldo. They may still win games with him, but bah gawd they were so much more fun to watch when he wasn’t there (Ronaldo Twitter come at me you creeps).

The 2017/18 season: My main takeaway from writing this article is just how good the 2017/18 Serie A season was. It was INCREDIBLE. 


Things That Aged the Worst

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Juventus’ midfield: Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi. HOW DID THAT MIDFIELD EVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY?!

VAR: The technology was used effectively in this game, but hasn’t been since. 

Mauro Icardi at Inter: He was/is an amazing player. He’s also a complete arsehole though, and despite all the goals, he was soon shipped off on loan to Paris Saint-Germain. 

Douglas Costa: He hasn’t really played since this season, which is a shame, because when fit he’s the most exciting player in Serie A. 

Napoli’s title celebrations: A week prior, Napoli fans took the streets to emphatically celebrate what they thought was a title-defining win…it wasn’t. 


What Happened Next? 

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Juventus won the league. 

SSC Napoli didn’t win the league. 

Inter qualified for the UEFA Champions League. 

I’ve already said all this so moving on… 


Unanswerable Questions

Maurizio Sarri,Massimiliano Allegri

If Napoli won the league, does Sarri stay and they become a powerhouse? 

If Juventus lose, do they sack Allegri? And who do they replace him with?

I guess we’ll never know.


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