The 12 most-read 2011 articles in Sport

From ficticious stories of Cristiano Ronaldo being sold to Spain to a corpse being smuggled into a football match, Simon Rice charts the most popular sport articles published in 2011, as well as a few editors' favourites

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The Independent Online

This year's 12 most read articles are made up entirely of football stories, confirming it's status as the national game. More specifically, most of the stories relate to transfer news, and as you will see from the top two entries, the validity of the story has little correlation its popularity.

The 12 most read are those sports articles published in 2011 that have been visited by the greatest number of separate users to date.


The list (click the headlines to read articles in full)

1. Portugal 'sells' Ronaldo to Spain in £160m deal on national debt

By Glenn Moore

This was the exclusive story that Portugal had agreed to sell star player Cristiano Ronaldo to Spain for £160m. The story appeared on April 1, and was of course, a joke. That the story was complete nonsense didn't stop it becoming The Independent's most read sport story of the year, nor did it stop some people from believing it.


2. Arsenal snap up £12m Jadson as 'new Cesc Fabregas'

By Ian Herbert

With Samir Nasri's sale to Manchester City going through, the transfer market was abuzz with stories and rumours as to who Arsene Wenger would bring in to the Emirates to replace the French midfielder. The story of Jadson's £12m arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk failed to materialise, but the story would be a major success.


3. 'Historic' Sebastian Coates transfer a coup for Liverpool

By Tim Sturtridge

Ahead of his move to Anfield, The Independent's South American football specialist brought Liverpool fans the low down on the imminent arrival from Uruguay.


4. Liverpool close on Adam and Downing

By James Mariner

Another summer transfer story involving Liverpool - this time the arrivals of Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing. The Independent correctly predicted the two midfielders were on their way to Anfield.


5. United open talks with £8m Nasri

By Ian Herbert

The Independent's northern football correspondent revealed that the then Arsenal midfielder had held exploratory talks with Manchester United over a possible move to Old Trafford. Had the fee remained at £8m, perhaps the move may have come off, but City would step in with a bid in excess of £20m which was accepted by Arsenal.


6. Chelsea target five signings in summer spree

By Mark Fleming

With Chelsea's squad in need of an overhaul, The Independent analysed which players would be allowed to leave and who was being targeted to replace them. The recent sale of Nicolas Anelka to Shanghai Shenhua proved that Chelsea were indeed willing to let the Frenchman leave while retaining the services of Didier Drogba. On the incoming front, it was correctly predicted that Romelu Lukaku would arrive at Stamford Bridge.


7. Modric changes tack after Spurs stand firm over Chelsea interest

By Sam Wallace

One of the biggest transfer stories of the summer involved the proposed move of Luka Modric from Tottenham to Chelsea. In June Sam Wallace reported that Modric did not want to go to war with Spurs in order to push the deal through. Come the close of the transfer window at the end of August, the Croatian midfielder remained a Tottenham player.


8. Arsenal left in no doubt about Nasri's strong desire to leave

By Ian Herbert

Another transfer story involving Samir Nasri, this time regarding his determination to leave the Emirates, which eventually he did.


9. Scholes dismisses 'pointless' Arsenal

By Ian Herbert and Mark Fleming

Amid the summer exodus at Arsenal that saw Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri leave the Emirates, Manchester United's player-turned-coach Paul Scholes was critical of the north London club. The midfielder said: "It doesn't irritate me [that people say they're the best footballing team], because while they are doing that, we [United] are winning games. They do play the best football to watch at times, but what is the point of that, if you are not winning anything?".


10. Corpse smuggled into football match in Colombia

By Alejandro Pérez and Tim Sturtridge

More stories from South America, this one on the bizarre incident which saw football fans in Columbia smuggle a coffin containing a corpse into a match between Cúcuta Deportivo and Envigado at the Estadio General Santander.


11. Fergie in spat with Keane as awful United crash out

By Tim Rich and Ian Herbert

Sir Alex Ferguson reacted with typical levels of grace and restraint when Manchester United crashed out of this season's Champions League by hitting out at his former captain Roy Keane. Keane questioned the mentality of United's youngsters. In riposte, Ferguson questioned Keane's managerial ability.


12. Hiddink wrecked Chelsea chance by demanding Wilkins' return

By Mark Fleming

As Chelsea sought a successor for the deposed Carlo Ancelotti, the two main contenders were Guus Hiddink and Andre Villas-Boas. We revealed that the latter got the job only after Hiddink spoilt his chance by telling Chelsea officials that he wanted to bring back Ray Wilkins, who had been sacked the previous year.


Editors' choice

While the above list shows the most read articles of 2011, we asked sports editor Matt Gatward to nominate a few favourite pieces of the year...


Players are trafficked to fix matches, claims Fifa

By Robin Scott-Elliot

The Independent exclusively revealed that Fifa's security chief feared players from the game's poorer nations were being "trafficked" in order to facilitate match-fixing.


9/11 made him quit NFL and go to war. It cost him his life

By Robin Scott-Elliot

With regards to reaction, no other story affected so many as the tale of the American football player Pat Tillman, who turned down a fat NFL contract to serve the US, only to die in controversial circumstances while on duty in Afghanistan.


Pain still fresh of night that cannot be forgotten

By James Lawton

In an emotive piece, Sports Writer of the Year James Lawton reflected on the memories of how Nigel Benn left Gerald McClellan paralysed and blind after their shocking fight 16 years ago.


Luiz swiftly becomes hair apparent of The Bridge

By Sam Wallace

One of the most colourful and opinion splitting players currently plying his trade in the Premier League was the subject of an intriguing interview with The Independent shortly after his arrival at Stamford Bridge.


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