Vanishing acts: five players who went missing from their clubs
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal caused a frenzy of disbelief recently during his side’s pre-season preparations, stating publicly to the media that he had no idea of the whereabouts of his Argentine attacker Angel Di Maria.
The out-of-favour Old Trafford star is heavily tipped to join French champions PSG, who are 14/1 with Coral to win the Champions League this season, and that looks increasingly likely after the 27-year-old disappeared.
Following the superb vanishing skills of Di Maria, here are five other players who went missing from their clubs.
During his time in the Premier League, Tevez was never far from controversy, grabbing the headlines for his superb displays for West Ham United and both Manchester giants, but trouble seemed to follow him closely.
After leaving the Hammers embroiled in third-party ownership problems, and ungracefully making the switch from red to blue in Manchester, the Argentine caused quite a stir by refusing to return to the Etihad in 2011.
Becoming a menace on and off the pitch, Tevez was scheduled for a single day off, but failed to turn up the following day, having jetted off to his native country to visit family without consent.
A spokesperson for City was unable to reveal exactly where their star was, and when he would return, remaining 7k miles away in South America. Although, Tevez was soon pictured enjoying a round of golf, putting himself in further hot water.
Hatem Ben Arfa
With an abundance of talent, this ferocious Frenchman was both deadly and majestic on the ball in the Premier League, when he fancied it.
Ben Arfa, formerly of Newcastle United, set pulses racing when he arrived at Hull City on loan after an alleged fall-out with then Toon boss Alan Pardew. This was seen as the last chance for the top-flight enigma, but he messed it up only two months down the line in 2014.
The 27-year-old disappeared, with Tigers boss Steve Bruce declaring he had no idea where his temperamental winger was, following a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea (13/8 to retain title).
“I don’t know if Hatem is in Paris, that’s the truth. As for not playing for Hull City again – at the moment he’s not in the squad,” Bruce admitted.
The missing Frenchman soon said ‘au revoir’ to England as Newcastle terminated his contract.
Probably the most outrageous excuse for going missing comes from our next player Sissoko, with the former Liverpool and Valencia midfielder making bizarre claims of his whereabouts, having gone missing his previous Spanish club.
In 2004, he told his then La Liga club that his Mali teammates needed him to play in a friendly against Kenya, even claiming that his nation had eventually won 1-0 and that he had been subbed off shortly after half-time.
Although, blissfully unaware that a simple glance at the fixtures list would catch out the vanishing midfielder, Sissoko’s cover was expectedly blown.
With the alluring temptation of Real Madrid playing on his mind, then Tottenham playmaker Modric went off the rails in 2012, failing to show for training before refusing to board a plane with Andre-Villas Boas and company for pre-season.
Having gone missing and seemingly throwing his toys out of the pram, the Croatian midfielder was eventually granted a move to Los Blancos, but not before Daniel Levy squeezed £30m out of the La Liga powerhouse.
The Croatian is still plying his trade at the Bernabeu and will hope to recapture the Spanish league crown from rivals Barcelona this term, with his side 13/8 to do so.
In March 2007, during his time at West Ham United, Ferdinand asked Alan Curbishley for time off to visit his sick grandmother on the Isle of Wight. Little did the Hammers coach know that the defender was instead heading for a session with the lads in South Carolina, USA.
Disappearing for some time to celebrate his 22nd birthday, the centre back was fined two weeks wages and his side lost 4-0 to Charlton Athletic in his absence.