Top players who stay at their relegated clubs

Several star players choose to remain at his clubs despite going down to the second tier and the offer to move.

The January transfer window has reopened, and so has the chance to move out of the club. Finding a better club with a continental campaign, more minutes in the first team, or simply a much better contract offer on the table can be enough to convince any player to switch sides.

Being in the second tier for famous players is not an ideal situation, as it results in lower wages as well as a lack of opportunities for national team call-ups. They will almost certainly receive offers to leave the clubs and join the top flight. Nonetheless, some people prefer to stay put, no matter what.

This season, Jamie Vardy is one of them. He has been the key man in Leicester City for years. The Englishman was the star when they won the Premier League in 2016, played in their first ever Champions League in 2017, and clinched their first FA Cup in 2021. He was not short of offers to leave The Foxes last summer, drawing interest from Turkish side Trabzonspor to a big money move to Saudi Pro League club Khaleej FC.

Nevertheless, the 36-year-old forward did not turn his back on his club. He is on the verge of bringing back the Foxes to the Premier League next season, as they are sitting comfortably on top of the table. Despite no longer leading the line under Enzo Maresca, Vardy still managed to contribute six goals and one assist in 18 games, only nine of which were as a starter.

Vardy is not the only star who stays at a low level. Some other famous names below also did the same, including three World Cup winners and a Ballon d’Or holder.

Aleksandar Mitrović

The former Newcastle United forward is one of the few well-known names who opted to stay with his relegated club. He remained at Fulham when they went down and played in the Championship in 2022.

The Serbian international even helped the Cottagers bounce back to the top flight in the following season. The current Al-Hilal man even bagged 43 goals and made seven assists in the second tier at that time.

Scott Parker

Former Mitrović boss in Fulham, Scott Parker, also went through the same experience while playing for The Cottagers in 2012/13. They were relegated, but the former Chelsea and Newcastle man stayed despite an opportunity to move out and stay in the Premier League since Parker was the club’s star at the time. The PFA Player of the Year in 2011/12 kept playing in the Championship till he hung his boots in 2017 and began his managerial career with the same club in 2018.

Gabriel Batistuta and Stefan Effenberg

The 1992/93 season was a nightmare for Fiorentina. They had to go down to the second tier, under the threat of losing their top players. Yet, Gabriel Batistuta and Stefan Effenberg showed their loyalty to La Viola. Both helped send them back to Serie A in 1994. The prolific Argentine striker in the 1990s even stayed with Fiorentina and became the club’s legend before leaving in 2000. The forward, who was also nicknamed Batigol, bagged 16 goals in Serie B.

Meanwhile, his German teammate netted seven goals in 26 games in the second tier. Unlike Batistuta, Effenberg left La Viola in summer 1994 to join Borussia Monchengladbach before lifting the UEFA Champions League in 2001 with Bayern Munich. Due to their great contribution in the 1993/94 campaign, they both made the cut in the 1994 FIFA World Cup squad.

Fabien Barthez

The legendary eccentric French goalie was also loyal to his club during the hard times. Due to a match-fixing case in the early 1990s, Olympique Marseille was demoted in 1994. Their league title in 1993 was also stripped. Barthez, who held the record for the youngest goalkeeper to win UEFA Champions League, stayed with OM and played in Ligue 2 in the 1994–95 campaign, despite numerous offers to move out.

The World Cup winner eventually left OM to sign for AS Monaco, a year later after helping Marseille bounce back to the top flight instantly.

Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, and Pavel Nedvěd

When Juventus was forced to go down to Serie B in the 2006/07 season after their involvement in Calciopoli, several big names surprisingly decided to stay. Two of them were World Cup winners, Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero, whereas another one was the 2003 Ballon d’Or winner, Pavel Nedvěd. They were still at the peak of their careers and had no shortage of suitors. However, they remained loyal to Bianconeri.

They all played an important role in bringing Juventus back to Serie A in the following season. Buffon was simply no match for any of the Serie B teams, with 21 clean sheets. Del Piero was the club’s top scorer, with 20 goals and 14 assists. Meanwhile, the former Czechia international netted 11 goals and provided nine assists in 33 games. Another famous name who also remained in Turin at that time was the French international frontman David Trezeguet.

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