Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers

Stefan Bienkowski
Stefan Bienkowski
  • Updated: 19 May 2021 15:42 BST
  • 5 min read
Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers
© ProShots

Diego Maradona may go down in history as the mischievous No.10 in the light blue and white of Argentina, but when it came to club football the legend of the game was by no means a one-club man. 

Over the course of his 21-year playing career, Maradona featured for no less than seven clubs in three different countries. And while the tricky forward may have been a consistent star for his country, Maradona’s domestic career had a number of dramatic highs and lows. 

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So just which transfers did Maradona get right and which ones did he undoubtedly get wrong over the course of his career?


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  • Argentinos Juniors to Boca Juniors

    Before Maradona had even kicked a ball on European soil, the Argentinian forward was already having to pick between two huge clubs when, at the age of 21, he had Boca Juniors and River Plate chasing his signature when he was still at Argentinos Juniors.

    River Plate had offered to make Maradona their highest paid player in a bid to capture the exceptional home-grown talent, but Maradona opted to follow his heart and sign for Boca Juniors in the end for $4 million on account of always wanting to play for the club that play their games at the famous La Bombonera. 

    However, Maradona’s time at the club was short lived, with just 40 appearances in the famous blue and yellow of Boca before European football came calling. But not before helping his childhood club to the 1981 Argentine Primera Division title. 

    Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers
    © ProShots - Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers

    Boca Juniors to Barcelona

    Following his first World Cup with Argentina in 1982, Maradona made a £5 million move to Barcelona that broke all transfer records before it. Despite a disappointing World Cup for Maradona, which is best remembered for horrendous tackles by opposing defenders and the player’s red card against Brazil, Maradona arrived in Europe as an already established global star. 

    In 58 games for the Catalan club, Maradona scored 38 goals and helped Barcelona win a treble of cup trophies with the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Supercup and the now defunct Copa de la Liga all arriving in the club’s trophy room in 1983. 

    However, it seemed destined that Maradona would leave Barcelona the same way he arrived when the red mist once again descended in the 1984 Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, In front of a crowd of 100,000 spectators – which included Spanish King Juan Carlos – Maradona snapped at defender Andoni Goikoetxea, after a series of bad tackles and xenophobic remarks, and started a mass brawl that involved both teams and lead to over sixty people getting injured.

    “When I saw those scenes of Maradona fighting and the chaos that followed I realized we couldn’t go any further with him,” one Barcelona executive reportedly stated after the match. Within the month the club had found a potential suitor and managed to sell Maradona after just two seasons at the club. 

    Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers
    © ProShots - Diego Maradona: The legend’s best and worst transfers

    Barcelona to Napoli

    Barcelona will probably go down as a bad move for Maradona but it perhaps had to happen to allow the maverick talent to find his way to Napoli, who signed the Argentine for another world record of £6.9 million. 

    No less than 75,000 fans showed up to greet Maradona at his unveiling and that carnival atmosphere never seemed to stop over the course of a seven-year spell which saw the forward take Napoli to heights never before dreamed of by their fans. 

    In 1987 Maradona not only helped Napoli to their first ever Serie A title but the first ever Serie A title won by a team from the south of Italy, along with the Coppa Italia. The following season the Serie A side finished second in the division but went one better by winning the UEFA Cup, before reclaiming the league title the following season. 

    By the end of his spell in Napoli, Maradona had earned the captain’s armband and was the club’s all-time top goalscorer with 115 goals. He left a city adorned in murals and paintings of his achievements for the club as perhaps the single greatest transfer football has ever seen. 

    Napoli to Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys and back to Boca Juniors 

    Despite the undisputed success during his spell at Napoli, by the time Maradona had opted to leave the club in 1992 his off-the-field troubles had begun to catch up with him. The Argentine was routinely fined for missing games and practice and finished the 1990-91 season with just 18 league appearances to his name. 

    Despite that, Maradona had reported offers from Real Madrid and Marseille, but instead opted to return to Spain to play for Sevilla. Although the Argentinian international only featured for the Primera Division side in one season, he still amassed 29 games and scored eight goals. 

    After leaving Sevilla, Maradona returned to Argentina to play for Newell’s Old Boys but only managed five appearances over the course of an entire year, before returning to Boca Juniors in 1995. There, the Argentinian scored five goals in 24 appearances in his first season back at La Bombonera but struggled to feature more than six times in his next two seasons and ultimately decided to hang up the boots for good. 

    Read more about: La Liga, Serie A, Barcelona, Memphis Depay

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