PL’s biggest transfer windfalls: How the money was spent

Matt Stead

Southampton and Liverpool have money burning their pockets. How has big transfer money been spent before?


1) Tottenham: Gareth Bale – £85.3million
Bale left on deadline day in summer 2013, by which time Spurs had already blown their windfall in anticipation of Real Madrid stumping up for the Wales star. Of the Magnificent Seven recruited under the watch of Andre Villas-Boas and director of football Franco Baldini, only two remain at the club four-and-a-half seasons on.

Christian Eriksen was an absolute steal, and after a catastrophic debut season, Erik Lamela began to show why Spurs made him their biggest buy of that summer before a hip problem sidelined him for more than a year.

After seven goals in two Premier League seasons, Roberto Soldado was sold back to La Liga for half the price Spurs paid for him, while Vlad Chiricheș, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli all to varying degrees failed to make the grade at White Hart Lane. Paulinho? He’s at Barcelona now.

Paulinho – £17m
Nacer Chadli – £7m
Roberto Soldado – £26m
Etienne Capoue – £9m
Vlad Chiricheș – £8.5m
Erik Lamela – £30m
Christian Eriksen – £11.5m
Total: £109m


2) Man Utd: Cristiano Ronaldo – £80m
The summer of 2009 is widely accepted as the point at which the rot began to set in at Old Trafford, despite it coming four years before Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. United had a year to plan for Ronaldo’s exit but Ferguson, David Gill and the Glazers f*cked it completely.

Ronaldo left for Real Madrid with two months of the window remaining, but United were content to spend only a quarter of the fee they received, with the vast majority going on Antonio Valencia. That was £16million well spent, but only because he turned out to be a useful right-back. After getting rid of the Ballon d’Or winner and recruiting Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel sodding Obertan, Fergie was happy. He only signed Mame Biram Diouf for an amount that nobody knows because other clubs were sniffing around: “We weren’t intending on signing anyone else after last week – we feel we have a full squad . We decided to act and he’ll be the last person we sign.”

So United carried £60m over to the following season, but Old Trafford was firmly in the grip of Glazernomics. Their recruitment has largely been a shambles ever since.

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

Bebe – £7.4m
Chris Smalling – £10m
Javier Hernandez – undisclosed (around £7m)
Anders Lindegaard – £3.5m
Phil Jones – £16.5m
Ashley Young – £17m
Total: £80.4m


= 3) Liverpool: Luis Suarez – £75m
“You spend over £100million, you’d expect to be challenging for the league.” That was Brendan Rodgers’ verdict on Tottenham after they spent the Bale money. A year later, when Liverpool were cornered into selling Luis Suarez, those words would come back to haunt the Reds boss.

Prior to spluffing the £75million received for Suarez, and £40million more, the Reds had gone devastatingly close to winning the title, but the Uruguayan’s departure and the subsequent shoddy recruitment saw to it that the Reds finished sixth – two points below Spurs.

Adam Lallana has proved good value but most of the other new arrivals, especially Mario Balotelli – who was the closest thing to a direct replacement for Suarez – absolutely stank the place out.

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


=3) Everton: Romelu Lukaku – £75m
Everton were lauded early on in the window last summer for the decisive way in which they were going about their business. Then it all unraveled, with Romelu Lukaku’s departure and the subsequent failure to replace him just one of the factors behind a woeful start to the season that saw Ronald Koeman sacked.

The arrival of Cenk Tosun this month perhaps goes some way to belatedly rectifying that, while Jordan Pickford has been superb. Admittedly, a scarecrow in gloves might compare favourably to Joel Robles last season, but Michael Keane has also begun to show some form under Sam Allardyce. Wayne Rooney has enjoyed a distracting scoring run and Gylfi Sigurdsson is hardly a write-off. Davy Klaasen, though… 

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland) – £25m
Davy Klaassen – £23.6m
Henry Onyekuru – £7m
Sandro Ramirez – £5.2m
Michael Keane – £25m
Wayne Rooney – free
Cuco Martina – free
Gylfi Sigurdsson – £40m
Nikola Vlasic – £8m
Total £133.8m


5) Chelsea: Oscar – £60m
Oscar’s Chelsea departure was just weird. Shanghai SIPG paid around £60m for the Brazilian playmaker last December before everyone outside of China forgot about him.

Chelsea hardly suffered in his absence. Oscar made five Premier League starts before departing halfway through a season which ended with the Blues as champions. They kept their powder dry in January before spending the equivalent on Alvaro Morata, so you would say that was decent business. The jury is out on their other recruits, though, with £126million besides Morata seeming a vast sum for little tangible improvement.

Antonio Rudiger – £29m
Tiemoue Bakayoko – £40m
Alvaro Morata – £60m
Davide Zappacosta – £22m
Danny Drinkwater – £35m
Total: £186m


6) Tottenham: Kyle Walker – £51m
Few would begrudge Tottenham’s sale of Kyle Walker last summer. The right-back made it clear he wanted to move and the fee represented decent business for Spurs, who already had an England international in Kieran Trippier to replace him.

It’s too early to judge decisively how they reinvested the money received from Manchester City. That fee covers the purchases of Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier and both are feeling their way into the Premier League. Sanchez is young and may well be a long-term success but Aurier is yet to prove he can be trusted consistently.

Davinson Sanchez – £28m
Juan Foyth – £8m
Serge Aurier – £23m
Fernando Llorente – £15m
Total: £74m


=7) Chelsea: David Luiz – £50million
With John Terry and Gary Cahill identified as Jose Mourinho’s first-choice centre-half pairing, Chelsea were quite willing to accept a huge wad from PSG in 2014. Given that sum went 80 per cent of the way to funding deals for Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, it had to be seen as smart business. The Blues’ other dealings that summer was not quite as clever, though a title triumph meant it hardly mattered.

Of course, David Luiz was back at Stamford Bridge two years later, with PSG quite happy to return him for £16million less than they paid. Eighteen months and another title triumph later, Luiz is again up for grabs. It could be quite the January for Kia Joorabchian.

Cesc Fabregas – £30m
Diego Costa –  £32m
Filipe Luis – £16m
Didier Drogba – free
Loic Remy – £8.5m
Total £86.5m


=7) Liverpool: Fernando Torres – £50m
For just over the price of one centre-forward who had downed tools, Liverpool gave Kenny Dalglish a new strike pairing. Luis Suarez gave the club plenty of grief over three-and-a-half seasons but Liverpool fans will say the Uruguayan was well worth it. Given they made over £50million profit when he eventually left for Barcelona, the Liverpool board would surely agree.

Andy Carroll was a different story. The £35million they paid Newcastle on deadline day looked steep then but it appeared even worse value when he was shipped out to West Ham on loan barely 18 months later, a year before Liverpool accepted less than half the amount they paid for the injury-prone battering ram.

Luis Suarez – £22.7m
Andy Carroll – £35m
Total: £55.7million


9) Liverpool: Raheem Sterling – £49m
Continuing the theme of Liverpool’s ropey recruitment, the summer of 2015 brought more flops to Anfield’s door after Raheem Sterling had eventually wriggled away.

The pulled in just short of £50million for the Man City-bound winger, as well as £20million on some other deadwood hanging around Brendan Rodgers’ squad. The marquee signings were Roberto Firmino, who has comfortably justified the outlay to Hoffenheim, and Christian Benteke, who appeared to soil himself throughout his single season on Merseyside. How they got their money back on Benteke, only Steve Parish will know.

James Milner – Free
Danny Ings – £8m
Adam Bogdan – Free
Joe Gomez – £3.5m
Roberto Firmino – £29m
Nathaniel Clyne – £12.5m
Christian Benteke – £32.5m
Marko Grujic – £5.1m
Total: £90.6m


10) Everton: John Stones – £47.5m
Man City made John Stones the world’s second most expensive defender a year before chucking £50million on defenders became standard practice at the Etihad.

Barely 24 hours after the cash had been deposited in their account, Everton spent a fifth of it on Stones’ replacement, Ashley Williams, who was more thankful than anyone to see Sam Allardyce arrive in November. Idrissa Gueye was a snip for the Toffees, while Yannick Bolasie made an encouraging start before injury cost him a whole year. Investments in Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman also look like being fruitful.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin – £1.5m
Ashley Williams – £9m
Idrissa Gueye – £7.1m
Yannick Bolasie – £22.5m
Ademola Lookman – £7.5m
Total: £47.6m


Ian Watson