10) Angelino (PSV Eindhoven to Manchester City)
The suspicion was that City were looking to make a quick profit by giving PSV their money back for the left-back – with some interest. Jose Angel Esmoris Tasende moved to the Eredivisie side last summer for £5million, with City willing to sell for a relatively low price on the condition they be allowed to bring him back.
A year at PSV saw Angelino play six times in the Champions League while earning himself a spot in the Eredivisie team of the season for the second time. His efforts convinced City to refund PSV’s investment. But it is understood the Treble winners won’t just sell the 22-year-old on for a greater return, rather Pep Guardiola wants him around this season as back-up for Aleks Zinchenko.
9) Gerard Deulofeu (Everton to Barcelona)
He’s only 25 but Deulofeu has certainly been about. From Barcelona, the winger had spells at Everton, Sevilla, Everton again and AC Milan before Barcelona activated the clause they inserted when they sold him to the Premier League for £4.3million in 2015.
It cost the Catalans £10.5m to bring the frustratingly inconsistent winger back in 2017, but he rather unsurprisingly failed to dislodge Lionel Messi and pals. He was sent on loan to Watford six months after his return, with that move made permanent the following summer.
8) Dani Carvajal (Bayer Leverkusen to Real Madrid)
After failing to break into Real’s first-team, the right-back was shipped out to Bayer Leverkusen. Real, though, were keen to retain an option to bring back Carvajal. It would cost them €6.5million after one season, €7million after two and approximately €8.5million after three.
Real didn’t hang about, bringing back Carvajal less than a year after sending him to Germany at the cheapest possible price. Ever since returning in 2013 he has been a regular, winning pretty much everything there is to win at club level, even with this most recent “sh*tty season”.
7) Denis Suarez (Villarreal to Barcelona)
Like Deulofeu, Suarez has squeezed a lot into a fledgling career that began at Man City and has taken in spells at Barcelona, Sevilla, Villarreal, Barca again, Arsenal and now Celta Vigo.
Suarez’s first spell at the Nou Camp in 2013-14 was spent flitting around the B squad, but 95 senior appearances at Sevilla and Villarreal refined the midfielder enough to tempt the Catalans into paying €3.5million to bring him back shortly after his full Spain debut. Two and a half years and 71 appearances later, he was dispatched to Arsenal on loan. It did not go well…
6) Luis Garcia (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona)
The former Liverpool favourite is another who Barca brought back after selling him as a youngster. Following three loan spells, Garcia was sent to Atletico Madrid, who paid €3.6million for a winger who promptly netted nine goals in 30 appearances. That convinced Barcelona to give Atletico their money back with a €1.4million sweetener for Garcia.
A year and four goals in 25 appearances later, Barca raked in £6million from Liverpool, with new manager Rafael Benitez having worked with Garcia at Tenerife. Garcia’s signing was announced on the same day as Xabi Alonso’s arrival. Worked out alright for Liverpool, that…
5)Alvaro Morata (Juventus to Real Madrid)
Upon joining Chelsea in 2017, Morata was only 24 with just 126 league appearances to his name, but already the Spain striker had fetched transfer fees totalling in excess of £110million. That may become £160million this summer.
But his first move, seemingly an eternity ago in 2014, was between Real Madrid and Juventus. The Old Lady paid £15.8million for Carlo Ancelotti’s back-up centre-forward but after 15 goals in 63 Serie A appearances over two seasons, Real took up the option they retained to repurchase Morata for £23million. It was presumed Real would sell him on immediately for a hefty profit, but Karim Benzema’s backup still weighed in with 15 goals as Real won the La Liga title and retained the Champions League in 2016-17. That was enough for Chelsea to fork out £58million – unless the add-ons involved putting his boots on the correct feet, it seems unlikely any of the performance-related bonuses would have been due.
Morata is now back in Madrid, this time with Atletico, initially on loan but Chelsea are said to be considering recalling the striker unless Atletico take up their option to purchase for £50million. The Spaniard would be loathe to return, even for Frank Lampard.
4) Casemiro (Porto to Real Madrid)
Clear as mud, this one. Real sent Casemiro on loan to Porto for the 2014-15 season. The Brazil international impressed enough for Porto to activate the £10.75million option they had to make his loan move a permanent one. But Real had a clause of their own, entitling them to take him back immediately for £5.2million, presumably in addition to the fee Porto had just stumped up.
Casemiro returned to Madrid and, after being largely ignored by Rafa Benitez, established himself in Zinedine Zidane’s XI, playing crucial roles in three Champions League triumphs and a La Liga title.
3. Juninho (Atletico Madrid to Middlesbrough)
No-one on Teesside wanted to see the little Brazilian leave Boro in 1996, so the relegated club inserted a buy-back option into the £12million deal that took him to Atletico Madrid. “That option is not there for show,” said Boro chief executive Keith Lamb. “It’s there because we have a genuine interest. If he wants to leave Spain, we can have him back here at Middlesbrough.”
After a disappointing, injury-ravaged spell at the Vicente Calderon, Boro, by now back in the Premier League, followed through on that interest but only a loan could be agreed in 1999. A brief return to Brazil preceded Juninho eventually going back to Boro on a permanent basis.
2. Ian Rush (Juventus to Liverpool)
Juventus bought Rush for £3.2million – a record for a deal involving a British club – in 1986 but allowed him to stay at Liverpool on loan for the 1986-87 season. In truth, he wasn’t worth the wait for Juve, for whom Rush only scored seven goals.
Liverpool’s first refusal was more of an informal agreement, according to The Guardian, with the Reds quite willing to give Juve £2.8million of their money back in return for bringing Rush back to Anfield. As you would, really.
1. Luther Blissett (Milan to Watford)
Blissett’s 27 First Division goals for Watford led AC Milan to make the Hornets a £1million offer they couldn’t refuse, according to Graham Taylor at least: “Milan offered us a deal that we couldn’t turn down and it would have been morally wrong to prevent Luther from going.”
Blissett struggled in Serie A, scoring only five goals, with the Rossoneri refusing to employ the direct route to their frontman. Blissett, who apparently complained that “no matter how much money you have here, you can’t seem to get Rice Krispies”, moved to Italy with a clause in his contract offering Watford first refusal if he was to leave the San Siro. Watford took up their option, buying Blissett back for £550,000 and thus making a tidy £450,000 profit on the centre-forward who scored 21 goals during his first season back in English football.