Here are the ten players bought and sold for the biggest profit. Includes only players for whom a fee was paid before being sold on. No freebies. Jadon Sancho will make the top half of this list if Borussia Dortmund get their way…
10) Virgil van Dijk – £62million
“Southampton have got one hell of a deal,” Alan Shearer told the BBC upon hearing that his former club had sold the Holland defender to Liverpool. “Van Dijk is a good player, yes, but for £75m? No, he’s not worth it at all.”
Shearer wasn’t the only one. Now, Saints are wishing they’d charged double for a centre-back they bought from Celtic for £13m in 2015. He is really quite good.
9) Nicolas Pepe – £63milion
The deal might be structured so that Lille get £3.23 a week like one of those catalogue schemes of the 1980s but the bottom line is that Lille paid £9m to Angers in 2017 and then sold the same player for a book price of £72m to Arsenal two years later. That is excellent business.
It’s particularly excellent business as that Arsenal outlay has only reaped six Premier League assists in a season which has occasionally promised much but essentially delivered little.
8) Cristiano Ronaldo – £67.76million
Few had heard of then 17-year-old when he joined United for £12.24million – half their windfall from selling David Beckham – in 2003 but six years at United turned Ronaldo into arguably the world’s best player.
Given Ronaldo’s desire to join Real, which he had made crystal clear 12 months previously, the deal came as no surprise when it was announced. More shocking was how reluctant United were to reinvest the £80million. Sir Alex Ferguson’s four signings the summer he sold Ronaldo: Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf.
7) Harry Maguire – £68million
To turn a £12m defender into an £80m world-record-breaking defender in two years was quite the trick for Leicester, who could yet make smaller but not inconsiderable fortunes on Ben Chilwell, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes.
There’s no doubt that Maguire has significantly improved Manchester United, which is just about the least they should have expected for that price. He is one of the players they should now build around.
6) Gareth Bale – £75million
The Wales star turned himself from a player on the verge of a loan move to the Championship into the world’s most expensive ever in 2013 when Real Madrid agreed to pay Spurs £85million.
That status, though, offers little protection at the Bernabeu, where Bale really is no longer welcome. Which doesn’t appear to bother the former Southampton player as long as they continue to pay him £600,000 a week.
5) Antoine Griezmann – £83.6million
Nine La Liga goals for Barcelona suggest that Atletico Madrid did okay out of this deal, despite claiming that they deserved more than the £107m they were paid as the Spanish giants met his buy-out clause. That still represented a whopping profit. And Barcelona will be lucky to recoup half that money now.
Barça will tell every club who ask for Griezmann that he’s not for sale, but the truth is Barça would listen if a great offer comes in. [md]
— barcacentre (@barcacentre) July 25, 2020
4) Eden Hazard – £87million
The Real Madrid winger was waved off by Chelsea with their warmest wishes and not just because of the massive wedge the Blues made on their star player signed from Lille for £32million in 2012.
We have no idea yet what Real’s final bill will total, with £60million potentially payable in addition to the £89million Chelsea are guaranteed. It seems feasible that Hazard’s form and fortunes would trigger at least half the add-ons – even after an underwhelming first season – putting an approximate cost at around £119million.
3) Philippe Coutinho – £120million
Rafa Benitez’s recommendation reportedly convinced Liverpool to pay Inter Milan £8.5million for the Brazil playmaker in January 2013. Yet another reason the Reds have to be grateful to Rafa…
Upon Benitez being proved right, Liverpool really didn’t want to sell Coutinho and they certainly made the player and Barca work for a deal. It was finally agreed in January 2018, when Barca agreed a deal which may eventually add up to £142million. According to reports at the time, the Catalans coughed up £106million up front, with other triggers around appearances and Champions League participation bumping the total up. Should those add-ons be accurate, Barca’s total bill so far comes to around £128.5million.
2) Ousmane Dembele – £123.8million
Dortmund have doubled up as a money-making machine in recent years, making huge sums on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic, though none as big or as quick as the profit made by the sale of Dembele to Barca.
Barca could hardly plead poverty in the wake of selling Neymar in 2017 so Dortmund drove a hard bargain for Dembele, who joined the club only a year before from Rennes for around £11.7million. Dortmund coined in £96.8million initially with a series of easily-attainable add-ons taking the cost to £135.5million. Though a fair chunk of that profit will go to Rennes, who stand to make around £34million from the 25 per cent sell-on clause they inserted as part of his exit deal.
He is currently available for about £4.27.
1) Neymar – £128.5million
In the midst of a global pandemic and recession, there is no way, no how that anybody is going to pay the kind of money it would take to prise the Brazilian from Paris, three years after they paid a world-record fee for a man who agitated for a move he hoped would not only bring him riches but glory. Only one has been forthcoming.
That palaver came four years after Barca had won the race to sign Neymar from Santos. Barca claimed the deal was worth £48.6million – but it also cost Sandro Rosell his job. The Barca president’s successor divulged the full amount: £71.5million, which included a £35million payment to Neymar’s dad.