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PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT: Which middle-range clubs have negotiated the biggest transfer coups?

COMMENT: England's bigger clubs always attract top quality but occasionally, a mid-table team manages to pull off a surprising signing.

Stoke City are one Premier League club who continue to punch above their weight in the transfer window, with this week's capture of former Bayern Munich and Inter star Xherdan Shaqiri exemplifying the Potters' ability to complete unlikely signings.

True to Stoke's form, tribalfootball.com has taken a look back at some of the other middling clubs who have made the seemingly impossible possible.

Fabrizio RavanelliJuventus to Middlesbrough, 1996

Fabrizio Ravanelli rounded out the 1995/96 season by scoring in Juventus' Champions League Final victory over Ajax. A couple of months later, he was sensationally transferred to Middlesbrough for a £7million fee.

Boro boss Bryan Robson admitted his astonishment at the time: “Even I was surprised when Juventus said they would listen to an offer."

After a hat-trick on debut against Liverpool, 'The White Feather' left after the club were relegated at the end of the season, amidst rumours he disliked the lifestyle on Teesside.

Bojan KrkicBarcelona to Stoke City, 2014

Bojan became Barcelona's youngest ever player in La Liga when he debuted in 2008, breaking the previous record held by Lionel Messi, no less. The 24-year-old forward showed glimpses of his prodigious talent in spells at Inter Milan, Ajax and Roma, as well as two different periods at the Nou Camp, before surprising everyone by transferring to Stoke for the cut-price bargain fee of just £1.8million in July 2014.

The little Spaniard lit up the Premier League in the first half of last season, before suffering a season ending knee injury in an FA Cup tie against Rochdale, and his imminent return has Potters fans appropriately beaming with excitement.

Yohan Cabaye - Paris Saint-Germain to Crystal Palace, 2015

Frenchman Yohan Cabaye made a name for himself in England with two and a half fantastic seasons at Newcastle United, where he was the inspiration for a Toon resurgence under Alan Pardew.

Amidst interest from Arsenal, Cabaye joined French giants Pari Saint-Germain in January 2014, but decided to move to Crystal Palace in July to play under his former manager once more.

Pardew has already told Palace fans: “You won't see better than Cabaye here."

Allan Simonsen – Barcelona to Charlton Athletic, 1982

Danish striker Allen Simonsen was a Ballon D'Or winner in the late 70s, and won the European Cup Winners Cup with Barcelona in 1982. However, when Diego Maradona arrived at the Nou Camp the next season, it seemed there was no room for Simonsen, who shocked pretty much everyone by moving to Charlton Athletic, who were in England's second division at the time. He played only 16 times. Figure that one out.

Jay-Jay Okocha – Paris Saint-Germain to Bolton, 2002

Jay-Jay Okocha - so good they named him twice – spent four seasons at French giants PSG, where he mentored a young lad from Brazil named Ronaldinho. After some impressive displays at the 2002 World Cup, Okocha then decided Northern England was where he wanted to go, and moved on a free to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers.

The Nigerian was revered by fans during his four seasons at Reebok Stadium, although this probably isn't the case now, after he described his stint at the club as “A waste of time" in 2012.



Julio Cesar - to QPR, 2012

There was a time when Julio Cesar was considered the best goalkeeper in the world, probably around the time he was between the sticks for Inter's Champions League victory in 2010 and five consecutive Scudettos between 2006-2010. The Brazilian then swapped the San Siro for Loftus Road, signing with QPR in August 2012. He made 24 appearances in goal for Rangers as they were relegated in his first season.

The 35-year-old then took another step down, joining MLS club Toronto FC on loan, and now finds himself in Portugal with Benfica.

Sol Campbell - to Notts County, 2009

The former England, Tottenham and Arsenal defender surprisingly signed a five-year deal to play for fourth tier Notts County in 2009. Campbell played only one game – a 2-1 defeat to Morecambe – before changing his mind and cancelling his contract.

Edgar Davids – Signing for Barnet, 2012

Edgar Davids played for some pretty decent clubs in his time – Ajax, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and Barcelona among them – and won his fair share of silverware during his career. For reasons only known to him, the Dutchman decided to finish his career playing for European giants Barnet FC, in England's fourth tier. As player/manager, Davids led the Bees to relegation from the Football League, upon which he promptly resigned.

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Tim McGlone
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Tim McGlone

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