The Legends Who Had a Successful Return to Their Former Clubs

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David Luiz - PSG to Chelsea (2016)

David Luiz has been a bit of an enigma in the world of football, mixing the completely ridiculous with utter brilliance, and there seems to be no in-between a red card and a game-winning performance with this man.

In fact, the Brazilian was awarded a spot in the FIFA FIFpro World XI back in 2014, but also holds a record for the joint fifth-most Premier League red cards in the competition's history, whilst he also has 14 Premier League goals, which is more than legendary figures like Rio Ferdinand and Daniel Agger.

Luiz would move from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 as the club went four seasons without a league title. The defender would win back-to-back Ligue 1 trophies and even score against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to knock them out of the Champions League.

After two years in Paris, Luiz returned to west London and immediately won the Premier League he so desperately desired, playing 33 games in his first campaign, which also got him in the PFA Team of the Year alongside his partner Gary Cahill.

The ex-Benfica man would make the controversial move up north of London to Arsenal, three years later.

Mark Hughes - Barcelona to United (1989)

Not many players return to a club after moving abroad and come back even better, but Mark Hughes did just that. The Welshman was already a United hero before he moved to join Barcelona in 1986, as he bagged 37 league goals in 87 outings for the club, helping win an FA Cup at the same time.

That move to Spain didn't go as planned, and Hughes would be loaned to Bayern Munich after just one season. Then, after playing for two of Europe's heavyweights, the striker returned to Old Trafford and won another FA Cup in his second season at the club, proving his move abroad was merely just a chance to experience football overseas.

Hughes would go onto score 116 more goals for United across the next seven seasons in his second spell at the club, helping United win the inaugural Premier League and defend it the next season, before bagging another FA Cup.

After making his way into United's history books by becoming the then seventh all-time top scorer for the club, Hughes moved to Chelsea, but his second spell with the Red Devils was something special indeed.

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Nemanja Matic - Benfica to Chelsea (2014)

After almost four years at United, it's easy to forget Nemanja Matic was actually a Chelsea player, not once, but twice. The Serbian initially joined the club back in 2009 from Slovakian side Kosice, played two league games and grabbed an FA Cup winners medal, before moving to Benfica.

After three years in Portugal, Matic rejoined Chelsea and was one of the key figures in another Jose Mourinho title-winning Blues side. In fact, the defensive midfielder missed just 10 league games in three seasons, which helped bring in two Premier League titles for the club and he was also in with a shout for the PFA Player of the Year, as he really was that good in 2014/15. However, he did get a spot in the PFA Team of the Year instead.

Just before he joined United in 2017, Matic also had a tackle success rate of 75% in 123 Premier League appearances, which was a higher rate than N'Golo Kante, Ander Herrera, Fernandinho and Jordan Henderson.

Chelsea fans may feel bitter about his move to United, but he was completely shunned out the team by Antonio Conte, and he must go down as one of the great Blues players of the past decade.

Paul Pogba - Juventus to United (2016)

Paul Pogba was the next big thing coming out of United and looked at as a future contender for the most prestigious awards in world football. In fact, not many people have ever provoked such a reaction from a fanbase after just three league appearances, with much of the United faithful in utter disarray that they had let such a talented youngster go, which was so unlike the club.

The Frenchman moved to Juventus, won near enough everything in sight in Italy, rejoined United for a world record fee and instantly came under scrutiny, much because of his price tag.

However, it's easily forgotten that Pogba has the same amount of league goals in United colours as he did in the black and white of Juventus, in just three more games, which is an impressive turnover considering the Premier League is regarded as a tougher league.

The midfielder also found a spot in the PFA Team of the Year in 2018/19 for the Red Devils after 13 league goals, which was the then second-most from a midfielder at the club in the Premier League era, prior to the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, who now holds this record.

Pogba also helped United win the League Cup and Europa League in his debut season, which remain the only two major trophies in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, bar the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal.


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Paul Scholes - Rejoins United's first team after Retirement U turn (2012)

As a one club man, Paul Scholes played his whole career for Manchester United before retiring in 2011. Like Drogba, Scholes retired following a landmark occasion for his club, as United won their record-breaking 19th league title, pipping Chelsea to the trophy. However, in the 2011.12 season, the Red Devils faced a new challenger, with their noisy neighbours Manchester City looking to win their first title in 44 years.

With United facing an injury crisis, Scholes decided to reverse his retirement and made his return in January 2011, scoring in his first start back. City would go on to win the title on goal difference that year, thanks to an injury-time winner from Sergio Aguero on the last day of the season, however, United’s English midfielder would sign a one-year contract extension, meaning that for the second time, he would retire as a Premier League champion.

Wilfred Zaha - United to Crystal Palace (2015)

Wilfred Zaha was looked at as the brightest talent emerging from the Championship when he all but single handily won the 2013 play-offs with Crystal Palace.

The Ivorian moved to United shortly after and made just two league appearances for the club, and even rejoined the Eagles for two loan spells before making the move permanent once again in 2015.

Zaha has since gone from strength to strength, winning Palace's Player of the Year three times in five seasons and being the difference in them staying in the top flight.

Now 28 and chasing down his best Premier League goal tally within one season, Zaha looks at the peak of his powers and is continuing to be vital for Palace.

Ian Rush - Juventus to Liverpool (1989)

Between 1980 and 1986, Liverpool legend Ian Rush established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in Europe, scoring 109 league goals in 182 games.

Then in 1986, Juventus had a £3.2m bid accepted for the Welshman, which would see Rush remain at Anfield for the 1986/87 season on loan. Liverpool’s record goalscorer then moved to Italy for the 1987/88 season, but his time in Serie A was highly disappointing, as he managed just seven league goals.

After only one season at Juventus, the striker returned to the club where he had won four league titles and two European Cups and he would remain at the club until 1996, finishing his Liverpool career with 229 goals in 469 games, as well as 19 trophies.

Didier Drogba - Galatasaray to Chelsea (2014)

After playing a leading role in Chelsea’s Champions League win in 2012, Didier Drogba left the club for Shanghai Shenhua, reuniting with his former strike partner, Nicolas Anelka. Drogba left with a legacy that included three Premier League titles, nine cup final goals and a Champions League, cementing himself as one of, if not the, best Chelsea player of all-time.

However, in 2014, with Jose Mourinho beginning the second season of his second stint at Chelsea, the Ivorian striker was brought back to Stamford Bridge to play a supporting role to their new signing Diego Costa. The Blues would win the league title that season, as well as the League Cup, before Drogba left the club for a second time, adding to his already impressive trophy cabinet.

He might not have featured an awful lot, but with another goal at Old Trafford being one of his four, the striker had quite a memorable time once again.

Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls to Arsenal (2012)

Following a highly successful eight years in north London, Thierry Henry left Arsenal in 2007 in order to join Spanish giants Barcelona. Having won two Premier League titles and four Golden Boots, Henry is widely regarded as one of the best players to ever play in England and remains the only player to ever reach 20 goals and 20 assists in the same season (2003/04).

After achieving his dream of winning the Champions League in 2009, the Frenchman would leave for the MLS soon after, signing for the New York Red Bulls the following year. Two years later, injury problems at Arsenal meant that they looked to resign their record goalscorer on a two-month loan deal in January 2012.

Henry would make a scoring return to the Gunners, coming off the bench in a League Cup game against Leeds United and score the games only goal. His only league goal in this spell came in his final game against Sunderland, taking his Premier League tally to 175.

By Luke Feather


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