Top ten most profitable transfers of all time…

Date published: Saturday 13th July 2019 8:33

Here are the 10 players bought and sold for the biggest profit. Includes only players for whom a fee was paid before being sold on. No freebies…


10) Riyad Mahrez – £59.6million
The signings of Mahrez and N’Golo Kante saw Steve Walsh lauded as a transfer genius before he went to Everton and spluffed their cash against a wall. But his work at the King Power is still recent enough for Manchester United to consider him for a job. Buying an unknown Algeria winger from Le Havre for £400,000 before selling him on for £60million is the Glazers’ wet dream.


9) Alisson – £60.3million
Roma reaped a ten-fold return on the £6.7million investment they made in the Internacional goalkeeper in 2016 by sending him to Liverpool for £67million in time for last summer. He was briefly the world’s most expensive stopper before Chelsea parted with £75million to sign Athletic Bilbao academy product Kepa.

The Serie A side celebrated a windfall while Liverpool rejoiced in finally having a safe pair of hands. And the next fella in front of him…


8) 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.


7) 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 surprising 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.

They haven’t really made a profit on a player since.


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 player ever in 2013 when Real Madrid agreed to pay Spurs £85million.

That status, though, offers little protection at the Bernabeu, where Bale is seemingly 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
It’s a whopping profit – but Atletico want a lot more. They reckon Barca owe them another £71million on top of the £107.6million already deposited into their account via Griezmann’s lawyers.

Real Sociedad are watching closely given they are owed 20 per cent of any amount Atletico receive following the sale of Griezmann for £24million in 2014. They already almost doubled their windfall with £21.5million guaranteed to be heading to La Real.


4) Eden Hazard – £87million
The Real Madrid new boy 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 £89 million Chelsea are guaranteed. It seems feasible that Hazard’s form and fortunes would trigger at least half of the add-ons, 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.

And for what? The deal did more for Liverpool than Barca.


2) Ousmane Dembele – £123.8million
Dortmund have doubled up as 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.


1) Neymar – £128.5million
Neymar is back in the headlines for trying to force a move and PSG shouldn’t be surprised. He was similarly forthcoming to escape from Barcelona’s clutches in 2017, when the Parisians were forced to pay £200million to get the Brazilian out of his contract. Though he never resorted to going AWOL.

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.


Ian Watson

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