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Rediff.com  » Sports » Leaving their favourite clubs worked for Van Persie & Co

Leaving their favourite clubs worked for Van Persie & Co

Last updated on: April 26, 2013 08:53 IST

After eight frustrating years with Arsenal...Van Persie succeeded with Man United

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In winning the Premier League in his first season with Manchester United Robin van Persie joined an elite league of players for whom leaving the clubs where they spent a bulk of their careers proved successful. Bikash Mohapatra presents players who realised that elusive silverware after the switch.

"In terms of impact I think he has made as big an impact as any I can imagine."

Shortly after Manchester United had clinched their 20th Premier League title on Monday, Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say about the player who played the most significant role in ensuring the same.

For Robin van Persie, the player being mentioned, the win also marked the end to a seemingly endless wait.

The Dutchman had never before in his career won a league title, despite having played professional football for more than a decade.

Having started his career with Feyenoord, Van Persie did win the UEFA Cup – the predecessor of the Europa League – in 2002 with the Rotterdam club but never the Eredivisie. (Feyenoord's last league title came in 1999)

A move to London saw him play for Arsenal and emerge as one of the best players of his generation. However, in his eight years with Arsene Wenger's team the Dutchman managed only an FA Cup (2005) winner's medal for his efforts.

A 24-million-pound move from London to Manchester at the start of last season proved to be a masterstroke. Van Persie scored 28 goals in the season, including the hat-trick against Aston Villa at Old Trafford (that sealed the title), to play a stellar role and earn the most coveted silverware of his career.

What was an elusive dream in his eight years with the Gunners had become a reality in his first season with the Red Devils.

In doing so Van Persie joined the elite club of players for whom leaving the clubs where they spent a bulk of their careers proved to be a remarkable switch.

With Barcelona certain to win the La Liga, Cesc Fabregas's wait for a league title will also end. But since it is his second season at Camp Nou, he doesn't quite qualify for this list


Image: Robin van Persie
Photographs: Getty Images

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A Bulgarian first

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Dimitar Berbatov

The Bulgarian honed his skills with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, helping them reach the Champions League final in 2002.

However, it was a move to London that helped him establish himself as a footballer of repute.

At Tottenham Hotspurs, the Bulgarian blossomed as a footballer, first under Dutch coach Martin Jol, and then under Juande Ramos. Berbatov scored a plethora of goals in every passing season but when it came to silverware, only a League Cup came his way.

However, by then the Bulgarian had done enough for Sir Alex Ferguson to shell out 31 million pounds to bring him to Manchester in September.

It was money well spent. As Manchester celebrated in May 2009, so did Berbatov. He had become the first Bulgarian to win an English league title.


Image: Dimitar Berbatov
Photographs: Getty Images

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Failed with Reds, succeeded with the Red Devils

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Michael Owen

Michael Owen is still a hero at Anfield. Ask any Liverpool fan this and he/she will nod his/her head in agreement.

In his seven years with the Merseysiders, Owen was the top scorer in the Premier League twice (1997-98) and the club's top scorer in all the seven season. In 2001, he won the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup treble with Gerard Houllier's team and also earned the Ballon d'Or.

However, a league title remained elusive. Following an unsuccessful season (2004-05) with Real Madrid and four forgettable years with Newcastle United, Owen was a free agent.

Sir Alex Ferguson seized the opportunity to bring him to Old Trafford. Though in the twilight of his career, and used sparingly (mostly as a substitute), when Man United clinched the Premier League in 2010-11, it marked the first time that Owen had won a league title. 


Image: Michael Owen
Photographs: Getty Images

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Leaving Madrid for Manchester worked for Aguero

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Sergio Aguero

In 2006, Sergio Aguero sealed a 23 million Euro move from Argentine club Independiente to Spanish powerhouse Atletico Madrid.

In five years at the Vicente Calderon, Kun Aguero scored 101 goals, winning the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup (in 2010). However, Atletico failed to win a 10th league title -- they last won in 1996.

In July 2011, Aguero sealed a 35 million Euro move to Manchester City. The Argentine justified his worth by scoring 23 league goals in his debut season, including the crucial third goal against Queens Park Rangers, in the last game of the season, that earned Man City its first league title in 44 years.

It also happened to be Aguero's first league title.


Image: Sergio Aguero
Photographs: Getty Images

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Nothing left for Villa to achieve

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David Villa

If we go by his current status, there's nothing left for David Villa to achieve. The Spaniard has won almost everything football can offer, both with club and country.

However, a few seasons back Villa's trophy cabinet wasn't something to boast of. A Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup win with Real Zaragoza had earned him a 12 million euro move to Valencia in 2005. But in his five years at the Mestalla, Villa managed only another Copa del Rey medal (2008).

However, success with the Spanish national team -- he played a starring role in the 2008 Euro triumph as well in the 2010 World Cup -- earned him a 40 million euro move to FC Barcelona.

And in his first season at the Camp Nou, Villa not only won his first league title but also his first Champions League.


Image: David Villa
Photographs: Getty Images

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When Florence failed, Batistuta took a Roman holiday

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Gabriel Batistuta

The Argentine's decision to continue with Fiorentina, when the club was relegated in 1993, made him a hero with the fans. They even erected a statue of him.

However, his nine years in Florence earned only a Coppa Italia (1996) and an Italian Super Cup.

There was a Serie B title, but not one in Serie A.

In 2000, Gabriel Batistuta moved to Fabio Capello's AS Roma. And in his first season with the Rome club, the Argentine finally won that elusive league title.

Batistuta did his bit as expected, scoring 20 goals as Roma won their first (and till date last) Scudetto since 1983.


Image: Gabriel Batistuta
Photographs: Getty Images

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No Serie A yet, but a Bundesliga title nonetheless

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Luca Toni

A prolific goal-scorer, Luca Toni made a mark soon after moving to Fiorentina.

In his first season with the Florence club, the Italian scored 31 goals to win the European Golden Shoe.

However, for his entire goalscoring prowess, Toni won no silverware with Fiorentina. 

In 2007 he moved to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in a four-year-deal worth 12 million Euros.

Toni finished as top scorer in the 2007�� season with 24 goals even as Bayern won the Bundesliga, giving the Italian his first league title. 

For the record, Toni is now back in Fiorentina.


Image: Luca Toni
Photographs: Getty Images

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