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8 big players who returned to their boyhood clubs

Wayne Rooney Everton

They say you should never go back – but for these players, there was no place like home

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Dani Alves (Sao Paulo)

When injury ruined much of 2017/18 there were doubts whether Alves could still perform at the very top. The right-back dispelled those concerns last season with his brilliant form for PSG, with the Ligue 1 title win helping make him the most decorated footballer in history.

Alves followed that up this summer by captaining Brazil to Copa America glory, while there were reports both Barcelona and Manchester City wanted the 36-year-old. So many were surprised when he signed a three-year contract at Sao Paulo, returning to his home country after 17 hugely successful years in Europe.

Wayne Rooney (Everton)

Having broken through as a 16-year-old with the body of a man, Rooney was always unlikely to play at the highest level until his late 30s. But when he rejoined Everton in 2017 the forward was still only 32 and on the back of a double-winning season at Manchester United.

England’s record goalscorer continued to show his class despite a difficult campaign for the Toffees in which Rooney played under three different managers. Although now operating in a deeper role he still scored 10 times in the Premier League.

Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors)

Carlos Tevez Boca Juniors

Like fellow South American Alves would do four years later, Tevez shocked many in 2015 when he decided to head back to his home nation despite other offers on the table.

The forward signed for Boca Juniors having reached the Champions League final with Juventus in May and netting 20 Serie A goals. Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and PSG were all thought to be interested, but Tevez instead opted for a return to Argentina.

Following a spell in China with Shanghai Shenhua – which made the 35-year-old simultaneously very rich and unhappy – he is now at Boca for a third time.

Daniel Agger (Brondby)

When Agger returned to Brondby in 2014 at the age of 29 he was rated by some as one of the best centre-backs in European football, but left for a nominal fee.

Liverpool were allowing the deal to happen on compassionate grounds, rewarding the Dane for how he had conducted himself at Anfield over the previous eight years.

The defender said: "I wouldn't leave here to go anywhere else and that has been proven by my actions in recent seasons – I have turned down many offers to move to other Premier League and European clubs.”

He wasn’t wrong, with Agger having rejected an £18m move to Manchester City just two years earlier.

Nick Barmby (Hull)

Although he had endured two difficult years at Leeds United prior, the decision in 2004 for Barmby to leave the Premier League for newly promoted Hull City in League One was one that still made little sense.

It was a romantic return to his home city, but the Guardian reported the 30-year-old was taking a £27,000-a-week wage cut. Less than three years earlier Barmby was part of the England side that beat Germany 5-1.

Two promotions in four years followed to take Hull into the top flight and he later became their manager in 2011.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord)

Giovanni van Bronckhorst Feyenoord

During his four years at Barcelona, Van Bronckhorst was considered among the best left-backs in the world. Only 12 months before rejoining boyhood side Feyenoord, the Dutchman had won the Champions League as the only Barca player to feature in all 13 matches.

Yet Bert van Marwijk convinced Van Bronckhorst to come back to Rotterdam, activating a clause in his contract that allowed him to sign for Feyenoord on a free transfer. 

Although he won the KNVB Cup and went onto become boss himself, he left the Camp Nou just before the club’s greatest era.

Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes)

Veron may have had some issues in English football with both Manchester United and Chelsea, but when the midfielder joined Estudiantes in 2006 from the latter he still had offers from Boca and River Plate.

The Argentine had also been on loan at Inter Milan the season before heading back to his boyhood team.

Veron would rejoin them twice more, the most recent coming in 2017 when he was not only 41-years-old but also, by then, the chairman.

Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg)

Henrik Larsson Helsingborg

Larsson may have been 32 when he joined Barcelona following seven brilliant years at Celtic, but he proved to be a great asset.

No more so than in the 2006 Champions League final, when the striker came off the bench to set up both goals as his side came from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1.

So it raised a few eyebrows when just a few months later Larsson returned to Sweden and Helsingborg. His ability to still cut it at the top was proven during a three-month loan spell at Old Trafford later that same season.

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