13 players whose career paths were truly bizarre
Topical, as Paulinho has just moved to the Camp Nou for €40m. This move is a career peak for the midfielder, at the age of 29, which came much to the surprise and dismay of many people - including, if reports are to be believed, some of Barcelona's biggest stars. His path to Catalonia has been one of the most bizarre in football history.
The 41-cap Brazil international arrived via FC Vilnius in Lithuania, LKS Lodz in Poland, three clubs in his native Brazil (two of which were, frankly, quite small), a poor spell in the Premier League with Spurs, and Guangzhou Evergrande in China. He now finds himself at one of the true goliaths of world football - and this is a man who previously failed to shine in his spells in Lithuania and Poland.
Taarabt is an enigma. The Moroccan is undoubtedly talented, but flashes of brilliance have been overshadowed by a bad attitude, laziness and an inability to keep himself in shape.
Having started out in Lens' reserves, Taraabt earned a place in the French side's first team and attracted the interest of Tottenham. A loan move to White Hart Lane was followed by a permanent one – but it's all gone a bit crazy since then.
Taraabt failed to impress at Spurs and was loaned out twice to QPR, before earning a permanent move to Loftus Road. He put in some spectaular displays, and was easily the Championship's best player in 2010/11, but even the Rs grew frustrated with him (Harry Redknapp once claimed he was "three stone overweight"). Loan moves to Fulham and, rather inexplicably, Italian giants Milan followed.
The attacking midfielder scored four goals for the San Siro side and played in the Champions League knockout stages. But he didn’t earn a permanent deal, and eventually left QPR... for Benfica. He’s currently on loan at Genoa and has spent the summer getting himself in shape. Reportedly.
The Brazilian beefcake’s career started off in perfectly normal fashion with Vitoria. But it quickly turned curious.
The forward, otherwise known as Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, moved to top Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale in 2005 when he was still a teenager. Loan moves to Japanese second tier sides Consadole Sapporo and Tokyo Verdy - who he went on to join permanently - soon followed, and it was in Japan's capital where he caught the attention of Portuguese giants Porto.
From that point on, Hulk's strange career path has been paved with gold. He moved to Russian giants Zenit in 2012, when the club was being heavily backed financially, and then to Shanghai SIPG in China in 2012.
Despite the relatively poor standards of the leagues Hulk has played in, he’s continued to be selected for Brazil - which is weird in itself. He's 31 now, and his next move - if there are any more - will surely be to any club that offers him a pay rise.
It was a culture shock for the straight-talking east Londoner when he pitched up at Bury aged 15 – but suffice to say, Kazim-Richards has never shied away from alien environments since. The Leystonstone-born attacker hit the headlines in 2005 after being signed by Brighton, who'd used the £250,000 won from a Coca-Cola competition to sign him.
A £150,000 move to Premier League Sheffield United followed a year later, where he thrived under Neil Warnock and did enough to earn a surprise switch to Turkish giants Fenerbahce. He'd made his Turkey debut only days earlier, but this was the start of a whirlwind career – and with it, an unsettled one.
In 2010, Kazim-Richards was loaned out to Ligue 1 side Toulouse. By January 2011 he'd had his Fenerbahce contract terminated – so duly joined their fiercest rivals, Galatasaray. Loans at Olympiakos and Blackburn followed, before a permanent switch to Bursaspor in 2013. A contract dispute led to another temporary switch, this time to Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord, where he thrived and earned a permanent move.
But things weren't all plain sailing in Rotterdam: a dispute with a troublesome journalist put him in new manager Gio van Bronckhorst's bad books, so he wound up at Celtic in January 2016 for half a season. Naturally, Brazil was his next destination – his wife's country of birth – and after a fruitful spell at Coritiba, Kazim-Richards nabbed himself a move to giants Corinthians in January 2017.