Five most expensive mark-ups on returning players

Date published: Friday 21st August 2020 8:28 - Sarah Winterburn


Aaron Ramsdale just about misses out on this list because Bournemouth stand to make just short of £18m on his transfer back to Sheffield United. These are the players who went straight back to their old club for a lot more money. And Paul Pogba might never be topped

No clubs in between so no room for Nic Anelka and co…


5) Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Sold for: £3m
Bought back for: £21m
Mark-up: £18m

The big Serb had made just two Premier League appearances for Chelsea when he was shipped off to Benfica as part of the deal that brought David Luiz to Chelsea the first time. So officially his transfer fee is ‘David Luiz – £21m’. When he returned three years later – under the besotted Jose Mourinho – it was for the £21m on its own. This time he was the headline signing.

“I am very happy for this opportunity to be back at this club,” said Matic. “I feel very good because of that and just want to say I will give my best to help the team and make the Chelsea fans happy.” Two titles in the next three years did exactly that, before Chelsea somehow managed to almost double their money on a player with rapidly dwindling pace.


4) Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Sold for: £32m
Bought back for: £57m
Mark-up: £25m

A simply astonishing piece of business from Chelsea, who benefited from 52 goals in 89 Premier League games from the brilliant b***ard, winning two titles in three seasons with Costa leading the line, before Antonio Conte informed him by text message that he was not in his plans. What followed were threats of legal action and accusations that he was being treated like a “criminal” as Costa pushed for a move away from Chelsea.

His old club Atletico Madrid – fresh from a transfer ban – came to his rescue and shelled out an extraordinary sum for a player who has played barely half their games since, including one eight-game absence for abusing a referee. Of course.


3) Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)
Sold for: £3m
Bought back for: £30m
Mark-up: £27m

The exact numbers for those transfers are hard to find because Arsenal did pay some compensation for the 16-year-old lured with (accurate) talk of early first-team football, and Fabregas eventually left – eight years later – for a fee shrouded in mystery, not least because the Spaniard agreed to pay some of that fee himself from his wages. What we can conclude is that Arsenal made a lot of money on their captain, but nowhere near enough.

Relations between club and player were absolutely shattered by the summer of 2010, when Arsenal turned down over £30m from Barcelona only to accept even less a year later when Fabregas made it clear that he was desperate to return. That he never quite fulfilled his promise in Spain provided some comfort to heartbroken fans of Arsenal, who pointedly turned down the chance to re-sign him themselves before he joined Chelsea in 2014.


2) Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
Sold for: £4m
Bought back for: £31.5m
Mark-up: £27.5m

That Borussia Dortmund then spent that profit on buying him for the second time means that everyone broke more or less even on Hummels, but Bayern Munich could have saved themselves a lot of time and money if they had spotted that the gangly 19-year-old they sent on loan (and then sold) back in 2008 was a pretty decent player.

Two Bundesliga titles later, they bought him back for a substantial sum before adding another three German titles to his collection. Three years later, he left again – deemed expendable as the club broke their transfer record on Lucas Hernandes. Spare a thought for him this weekend…


1) Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Sold for: Nothing
Bought back for: £89m
Mark-up: £89m

The only way we will ever see this record broken is if Manchester City gazump United for Jadon Sancho. This has to go down in history as the most gut-wrenching piece of business of all time. Pogba left for nothing, won almost all of the things at Juventus, was re-signed for an absolute fortune and then has been, well, sort of okay most of the time and occasionally brilliant and occasionally terrible. Oh and always, always controversial, even when he isn’t actually doing anything. Especially then, in fact. Poor Pogba, more like.


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