With on-going speculation of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United building each day, it got us thinking, just how often have players returned to their beloved clubs in the Premier League? It’s common to see your club’s star man pack up and start a fresh in Europe at top clubs, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. But it seems the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and even Ronaldo can be tempted by a return to England. Here are five players who made their come-backs to the Premier League a memorable one…
In his first spell with Chelsea, Didier Drogba was a hero and his departure at the end of the 2011-12 season couldn’t have been any sweeter. After scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League final, he left Stamford Bridge as a club legend and it was expected the Ivorian would see out his career abroad. But after stints at Galatasaray and Chinese club, SH Shenhua, Drogba was asked to return to Chelsea in 2014 when Jose Mourinho returned as Blues’ boss. It was a come-back Chelsea fans won’t forget for some time too. He made 40 appearances in all competitions, despite the intention of him playing a side part in Chelsea’s league campaign. He scored seven goals during the 2014-15 season, made his 350th appearance for the club, scored a header against Manchester United at Old Trafford and lifted another Premier League title at the end of the season. Not bad Didier…
One of the most anticipated returns in Premier League history was the announcement of Theirry Henry’s two-month loan spell with Arsenal during his time with MLS outfit, New York Red Bulls. Henry returned to Arsenal for the start of 2012 and had six weeks with his former club. In his first spell, the striker formed a formidable partnership with Dennis Bergkamp and left the Gunners as one of, if not the best player the Reds had ever had. He already had over 200 goals, two Premier League titles and three FA Cups to his name but he came back for a second stint to emulate further success. During the six week return, he scored an FA Cup winner against Leeds United and came on as a substitute to score a late goal against Sunderland to give Arsenal three points in the Premier League. His late league winner was to be his final game for the club and he ended his career as Arsenal’s highest goal-scorer of all time.
Fowler is known by Liverpool fans as ‘the God’ because he was loved that much by the Anfield crowd. But when he left, it was rumoured he’d fallen out with then manager, Gerard Houllier and was sold to Leeds United for £12m after a very successful spell with Liverpool. After moving onto Manchester City, he never got the recognition he’d received from fans at Anfield and when he was offered the chance to return on a free under Rafa Benitez in 2006, he happily accepted. He was never going to achieve the same feats though, and returned more out of sentiment than anything. However, the fans were delighted at his return and he couldn’t be more satisfied to be back in Liverpool with his beloved club.
Joe Cole was one of many who progressed through the West Ham United academy to become a successful player for England and Chelsea. He was the Hammers’ club captain at the age of 21 but couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated in 2003 so was sold to Chelsea where he went on to win three Premier League titles. After a series of injuries, he fell out of favour with the Blues, despite his clear talent. He moved to Liverpool and was unsuccessful, kick-starting his Anfield career with a red card against Arsenal on his debut. He eventually returned to West Ham in 2012 and made an immediate impact as he was named ‘man of the match’ against Manchester United on his second debut. But he failed to deliver much after that and he moved on to Aston Villa in 2014 after 18 months with his much loved London club.
Robbie Fowler was beloved, Michael Owen was a revelation, Kenny Dalglish was the ‘king’ but Ian Rush was perhaps the best of the lot when it came to scoring goals for Liverpool. He’d already won four league titles and two European cups in his first spell at Anfield. It was natural the striker would search for bigger and better things and he hoped he’d achieve that with Juventus in 1987 but it wasn’t to be. He struggled to make an impact and after a nine month restless spell in Italy, he returned to Liverpool to spend another eight years at Anfield. He became the club’s record goal-scorer and picked up another league title. His decision to return couldn’t have been better.