It’s a fact of life that the very best players attract the biggest transfer fees.
Whether your name’s Neymar, Romelu Lukaku or Kyle Walker.
Over the last few years, some of the worlds best players in the game have attracted exorbitant transfer fees.
And while the selling club is often left ruing the loss of their star man, they do find themselves significantly well-off thanks to the windfall they receive.
So how have the biggest transfer fees been spent by those selling clubs over the years?
From panic buys to like-for-like replacements, we’ve taken a look:
Paul Pogba – £89.3 million
Manchester United smashed the transfer world record last summer when they paid Juventus £89.3 million (plus bonuses) for Paul Pogba.
Which is pretty mad, considering the French midfielder had previously been on the books at United, joining their youth academy from Le Havre in 2009.
Having risen through the ranks at Old Trafford, Pogba grew frustrated with his lack of opportunities in the first-team, making only a handful of substitute appearances during the 2011–12 season.
So he opted to leave United for Turin, where he became an automatic starter in their stylish midfield.
Four years later, United decided to make their former man the most expensive footballer of all-time.
Coupled with the £24m sale of Alvaro Morata to Real Madrid, Juve suddenly had enough money to purchase a small island.
But they used it to strengthen their squad instead, splashing the cash on the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic.
Juve’s aggressive transfer approach saw them spend big while simultaneously weakening their opponents; paying Serie A rivals Napoli £75m for Higuain (see below) and Roma £25.4m for Pjanic.
Despite being signed a month prior to Pogba’s sale, Pjanic was the obvious replacement for the Frenchman in midfield, while the likes of Mario Lemina and Tomas Rincon saw more game time as a result of Pogba’s departure.
Juve also added veteran (but still quite brilliant) full-back Dani Alves to their ranks on a free transfer from Barcelona, along with young Croatian winger Marko Pjaca from Dinamo Zagreb, with Medhi Benatia and Juan Cuadrado joining on loan.
Money well spent?
We’d say so.
Gareth Bale – £85 million
Tottenham couldn’t bear the thought of losing Gareth Bale in the summer of 2013, but when Real Madrid came knocking with an offer that broke the transfer record at the time, they couldn’t really say no, could they?
Besides, with that sort of money, they could considerably strengthen their title-chasing squad.
But instead, they went a bit nuts.
Newly appointed ‘director of football’ Franco Baldini oversaw the sale of Bale, and used the cash to buy seven new players, all of whom enjoyed mixed levels of success at White Hart Lane.
Nowadays, only two remain; Erik Lamela and the excellent Christian Eriksen.
Lamela was seen as the direct replacement for Bale, having made a name for himself as a goalscoring winger with Roma, while Eriksen was a younger creative option in midfield.
You could certainly argue that Nacer Chadli was a success; having been signed from Twente for £7m, he became a regular in the first-team before leaving for West Brom last summer.
The same could be said for highly-rated French midfielder Etienne Capoue, who never really got going at Spurs, but is flourishing at Watford these days.
But Tottenham’s transfer business that summer is generally considered a bit of a disaster.
While nobody had particularly heard of defender Vlad Chiriches, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado are largely considered two of the worst signings the North London side have ever made.
Cristiano Ronaldo – £80 million
Cristiano Ronaldo was always destined to move to Real Madrid.
And in the summer of 2009, he finally got his wish, leaving the safety net of the Premier League for the bright lights of the Spanish capital.
So how do you go about replacing the best player in the world?
Renowned for usually getting it right in the transfer market, Fergie replaced the Ronaldo-shaped gap on the right-wing with Wigan’s Antonio Valencia for around £16m.
Although he never became the free-scoring demi-God that he replaced, the Ecuadorian has gone on to play more times for United than Ronaldo, becoming a firm fan favourite.
Ferguson also surprised many when he added former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward Michael Owen to his ranks on a free transfer.
The England striker had been ravaged by injuries in recent years, but was still a useful squad player.
And he did score that goal against Man City in the Manchester derby, so he was probably worth it.
Youngsters Gabriel Obertan and Mame Biram Diouf were also summer buys, and while neither managed to consistently break into the first-team at Old Trafford, both have gone on to play for various clubs in the Premier League.
Gonzalo Higuain – £75 million
Having left Real Madrid for Napoli in 2013, Gonzalo Higuain managed to reestablish himself as one of the world’s best centre-forwards when he scored 36 goals for the Serie A side during the 2015–16 season.
Despite his goal scoring prowess, the Neapolitans were just short of challenging the almighty Juventus in the Italian top-flight.
But just to make sure, Juve decided to fork out £75m of their Pogba money for the Argentinian.
Having shipped their star man off to their biggest rival, Napoli needed someone new to guarantee the goals.
That someone was Ajax forward Arkadiusz Milik, who’d managed 21 for Ajax the previous season.
The towering-striker began his career at the Stadio San Paolo well – scoring twice on his debut against AC Milan – but he then tore his anterior cruciate ligament playing for Poland in October, missing most of the season.
Luckily, Napoli managed to fill the void up front with Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, who both managed to reach double figures in the scoring charts.
They delved into transfer market too, adding Sunderland flop Emanuele Giaccherini, talented Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski and defender Lorenzo Tonelli, along with youngsters Amadou Diawara and Marko Rog.
Neymar – £71 million
Santos are renowned for developing some of the finest players to ever come out of Brazil.
From the former greats of Pele, Coutinho and Clodoaldo, to modern talents such as Diego, Robinho, Elano, Alex.
But the emergence of Neymar in 2009 really got pulses racing, and it wasn’t long before a plethora of clubs were linked to the Samba star.
But it was Barcelona who got there first, submitting an offer of £71.5m for the forward (it wasn’t quite that straight forward, but we don’t want to go into the complexities of Neymar’s transfer investigation).
As a result of Neymar’s departure and the club’s poor performance in the league that season, manager Muricy Ramalho was dismissed by the club, with goalkeeper Rafael Cabral leaving for Napoli and Felipe Anderson heafing to Lazio.
In the past, Santos have often turned to their excellent youth academy to replace players who have left for Europe.
They began by promoting youngster Victor Andrade, while signing Thiago Ribeiro from Cagliari, handing the forward Neymar’s old No 11 shirt.
No pressure, eh?
It wasn’t until 2014 that they started to splash the cash, signing long-term Spurs target Leandro Damiao for around £11m (which was the biggest transfer in history between two Brazilian clubs) along with Lucas Lima, both from rivals Internacional.
They even brought back Robinho, signing their former academy graduate on a year-long loan from Milan.
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