How the biggest Premier League transfer windfalls were spent: Hazard, Coutinho and more…

Matt Stead
Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho, Eden Hazard, Moises Caicedo and Declan Rice
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho against Eden Hazard; Moises Caicedo tackles Declan Rice

West Ham and Brighton want the futures of Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo sorted soon so they can reinvest the money as well – or as poorly – as Liverpool.

With Arsenal agreeing a £105m fee for Rice and Caicedo possibly going for a similar figure when Chelsea and Man Utd come calling, West Ham and Brighton will have considerable money to put back into their respective squads this summer.

That can be as much a negative as a positive, as these eclectic examples show. The biggest Premier League sales ever, and what those fees were subsequently spent on, are below.


Chelsea: Eden Hazard – £143m

Mateo Kovacic – £40.2m

Hakim Ziyech – £33.3m
Timo Werner – £47.5m
Ben Chilwell – £45m
Malang Sarr – free
Thiago Silva – free
Kai Havertz – £71m
Edouard Mendy – £22m

Total: £40.2m/£259m

An awkwardly-timed transfer ban prevented Chelsea from properly investing their Hazard money back into the squad, although by the time Frank Lampard was given access to those funds a year later the hit-rate was sub-optimal at best.


Liverpool: Philippe Coutinho – £142m

Virgil van Dijk – £75m

Naby Keita – £52.75m
Fabinho – £43m
Xherdan Shaqiri – £13.5m
Alisson – £67m

Total: £75m/£251.25m

Liverpool put on an absolute transfer masterclass in 2018, extracting daft money from Barcelona for an excellent but expendable Coutinho and still managing to arguably underpay for four of their next five signings despite the selling clubs knowing they had a boosted budget. A world-record fee for Van Dijk was immediately offset and the Dutchman helped take them to the Champions League final within a matter of months; Fabinho, Alisson and even Shaqiri joined in the summer and played crucial roles in their European coronation and Premier League success.

Liverpool players Virgil van Dijk and Alisson after the Champions League final
Virgil van Dijk and Alisson embrace after the 2019 Champions League final


Aston Villa: Jack Grealish – £100m

Emi Buendia – £33m
Ashley Young – free
Leon Bailey – £30m
Danny Ings – £25m

Total: £88m

“It was never our intention to replace Jack with one footballer; our strategy was to analyse and break down Jack’s key attributes – his creativity, his assists and goals – and find those qualities and others in three forward players,” said chief executive Christian Purslow. But even the combined efforts of Buendia, Bailey and Ings – the latter being one of the great transfers that came out of absolutely nowhere – summarily failed to replicate the impact and importance of the departed Villa captain.


Tottenham: Gareth Bale – £85.3m

Paulinho – £17m
Nacer Chadli – £7m
Roberto Soldado – £26m
Etienne Capoue – £9m
Vlad Chiricheș – £8.5m
Christian Eriksen – £11.5m
Erik Lamela – £30m

Total: £109m

Daniel Levy tried to counter the swollen valuations clubs face when trying to spend huge transfer windfalls, splashing all of the Bale money on The Magnificent Seven before the Welshman had even completed his move to Real Madrid. It did not work all that well, with Eriksen and Lamela the only qualified successes.


Man Utd: Cristiano Ronaldo – £80m

Antonio Valencia – £16m
Michael Owen – free
Gabriel Obertan – £3m
Mame Biram Diouf – £4.5m

Total: £23.5m

“The money is there if I want to use it. The money was there in the summer if I wanted to use it,” said Sir Alex Ferguson in December 2009, desperately trying to shield those frugal Glazers by later adding: “I have no criticism of the owners over money because none is justified. They’ve given me £20m for three players already.”

Thank you so much for my brand new Gabriel Obertan, glorious overlords.

The Man Utd manager had targeted Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery to help replace Ronaldo before complaining that “the prices we were quoted for players were not reasonable” in a market that was “inflated” by Real Madrid and Manchester City’s thriftlessness.


Leicester: Harry Maguire – £80m

James Justin – £8m
Ayoze Perez – £30m
Youri Tielemans – £40m
George Hirst – £1m
Dennis Praet – £18m

Total: £97m

After squeezing a record fee out of Man Utd, Leicester spread their jackpot across every area of their squad to mixed results. The Foxes built on consecutive finishes of 9th with Maguire in the side to produce back-to-back Champions League qualification challenges without him, ultimately coming 5th both times.


Southampton: Virgil van Dijk – £75m

Guido Carrillo – £19.2m

Stuart Armstrong – £7m
Mohamed Elyounoussi – £16m
Angus Gunn – £10m
Jannik Vestergaard – £18m
Danny Ings – loan

Total: £19.2m/£70.2m

Southampton put on a clinic on how not to redistribute a substantial transfer fee in the January 2018 window, making Guido Carrillo (no goals in 10 games) their record signing as they bid farewell to Van Dijk. The subsequent summer was slightly better but even then their best addition was a loanee from Liverpool, who presumably felt a little guilty.


Everton: Romelu Lukaku – £75m

Jordan Pickford – £25m
Davy Klaassen – £23.6m
Henry Onyekuru – £7m
Sandro Ramirez – £5.2m
Michael Keane – £25m
Wayne Rooney – free
Josh Bowler – £1.5m
Cuco Martina – free
Gylfi Sigurdsson – £40m
Nikola Vlasic – £8m

Total £133.8m

Everton are still feeling the financial effects of their resounding transfer incompetence in the 2017/18 season, when their reaction to selling a guaranteed 20-goal-a-season striker was to bring in loads of No.10s to create chances for a centre-forward they no longer had. Mind you, bringing in Cenk Tosun for £27.5m in January hardly helped.


Man Utd: Romelu Lukaku – £74m

Daniel James – £15m
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £45m
Harry Maguire – £80m

Total: £140m

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided he needed a young, hungry, British core when given the permanent Man Utd reins, which is hardly surprising when he built much of his early managerial ethos around the Class of ’92 and Nou Camp-based corners because original thought is for nerds. Oh for even a brief glimpse of the alternate chaos timeline in which Old Trafford is treated to a Sean Longstaff-Scott McTominay central midfield.


Leicester: Wesley Fofana – £70m

Alex Smithies – free
Wout Faes – £15m

Victor Kristiansen – £13.1m
Tete – loan
Harry Souttar – £15m

Total: £15m/£43.1m

A combination of Chelsea playing summer-long silly beggars over Wesley Fofana and Leicester tightening the purse strings to uncomfortable levels restricted the Foxes to a dismal and faintly depressing window which not even additional investment in the winter could salvage. The foundations for relegation were established.


Liverpool: Luis Suarez – £64.9m

Rickie Lambert – £4m
Adam Lallana – £25m
Emre Can – £10m
Lazar Markovic – £20m
Dejan Lovren – £20m
Divock Origi – £10m
Alberto Moreno – £12m
Mario Balotelli – £16m

Total: £117m

“Look at Tottenham. If you spend more than £100million, you expect to be challenging for the league,” is perhaps the single most disastrous sentence ever uttered by a Premier League manager. An attempt to shift the increasing focus and pressure on Liverpool not only backfired immediately – their title hopes imploded in that game against Chelsea two days later – but it created an unnecessary rod for the club’s back which sat agonisingly all summer. As poorly as Tottenham executed their post-Bale spend, Liverpool’s effort to improve their squad with the Suarez money was risibly bad.

The ultimate lesson for West Ham and Brighton? Don’t entrust Brendan Rodgers with the Rice or Caicedo money and you might be alright.