Thursday, July 18, 2019

Footballers coming home: Players who returned to their former clubs

SoccerNews in English Premier League 28 Jun 2019

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Mats Hummels has completed a move from Bayern Munich to Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund and will join the list of players to have returned to their former club after a spell away.

The 30-year-old joined Dortmund from Bayern in 2008 and made 309 appearances for the club, before returning to the Bavarian giants for a three-year stint at the Allianz Arena.

But Hummels will wear the famous yellow strip of Dortmund once again next season and he will be hoping for a positive reaction from BVB supporters.

That is not always the case, of course, with many failing to match their previous highs when returning to a former side.

Here we look at six examples of players going back home in recent seasons, with varying degrees of success.

Mario Gotze – Borussia Dortmund

Hummels is not the first player to swap Bayern for Dortmund in the last few years, with Gotze doing likewise in 2016. The player best remembered for his extra-time winner in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina struggled to assert himself in Bavaria and has not had quite the same impact in his second spell with BVB. But he has slowly forced his way back into the side after battling back from a rare metabolic illness, ending last season with seven goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga.

Diego Costa – Atletico Madrid

Costa’s dream return to Atletico, where he spent four years before joining Chelsea in 2014 and moving back again three-and-a-half years later, has turned into a bit of a nightmare. The Brazilian-born Spain international, well known for being an explosive character, scored a respectable seven goals in his first half-season back, including the winning goal in Atleti’s Europa League semi-final win against Arsenal. But he went on a long scoreless run in 2018-19 and did not feature in the final month of the season after being given an eight-match ban for insulting referee Gil Manzano.

Wayne Rooney – Everton

Rooney’s talents were on the wane long before he re-signed for boyhood club Everton in July 2017. He ended his first campaign back at Goodison Park as the Toffees’ top scorer, but he opted to join Major League Soccer side DC United just a year after returning to Goodison Park and has somewhat revived his career Stateside with 21 goals in 38 league outings to date.

Paul Pogba – Manchester United

United splashed out a world-record sum at the time to bring Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus, where he spent four years between spells with the Red Devils. Pogba won eight honours in Turin, including four Serie A titles, but he has had far less success since making the return move in 2016. Despite a positive goal return in a trophyless 2018-19, Pogba often came in for criticism and he admitted earlier this month he is considering a move away from United.

Carlos Tevez – Boca Juniors

This one falls into the ‘romantic’ category as Tevez was lured back to the Argentinian giants from Juventus in 2015, 11 years after leaving his boyhood club. The much-travelled striker enjoyed a trophy-laden spell in Europe with Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, scoring 20 Serie A goals in his final season with the latter. Despite links with the likes of Liverpool, Atletico and Paris Saint-Germain, he stated his desire to sign for the club where he started his career and got his wish. It was not quite the dream return initially, with Tevez soon persuaded to head to the Far East for a 12-month spell with Shanghai Shenhua, but he is now back at Boca for a third stint.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal

Henry could not say no to a second crack in the Premier League with Arsenal in 2012, signing on a two-month loan deal some five years after bidding an emotional farewell to join Barcelona and then MLS side New York Red Bulls. The highlight of his second coming arguably came in his first game back when scoring the only goal of the game in an FA Cup third-round tie against Leeds United as a substitute, which he added to with a late decider against Sunderland – his final Premier League game for Arsenal and an appropriate way to bring down the curtain on an incredible career.

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