Profitable Player Transfers in European Football: Neymar, Coutinho, Pogba
|poses with his jersey next to Paris Saint Germain's (PSG) Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi during his official presentation at the Parc des Princes stadium on August 4, 2017(Image-Getty)
Create athletes in your academy and sell them at high prices before they become big stars—this is the mantra through which some clubs in European football are making significant profits through player transfers. The cabinets of these clubs may not be filled with trophies, but they are certainly dominating in terms of financial gains through player sales.
Two such clubs are Benfica and Porto. In the past nine seasons, these rival clubs from Portugal have earned approximately 140 million euros through player transfers. And if we consider a specific season, Chelsea tops the list. The club from London has sold six footballers in just 10 days this month, accumulating a deposit of 22.54 million euros. An report from The Athletic states that Chelsea leads among English clubs in terms of profits from player transfers over the past decade.
However, if the question arises about which club holds the record for the highest profit from selling a player, it requires some thought. The names of Benfica, Porto, Borussia Dortmund, and Arsenal may come to mind for many. Because these clubs have a rich tradition of selling players at high prices.
Santos ➠ Barcelona: 80 million euros
Barcelona ➠ PSG: 222 million euros
Barcelona's profit: 134 million euros
But none of them. Only one player leaving and generating the highest profit record belongs to Barcelona. Just by mentioning Barcelona, one can immediately recall the name of the player—Neymar.
The Brazilian star forward was sold to Barcelona for 80 million euros in 2013. Although the exact contractual value was kept secret at the time, it later became known that Neymar went to the Catalan club for 80 million euros.
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Neymar, who created a formidable attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez (known as 'MSN'), helped the club win eight trophies, including the Champions League, during his tenure at Barcelona. However, in 2017, Messi's departure from Barcelona was unexpected, and Neymar decided to leave the club by mutual agreement. That year, PSG bought Neymar for 222 million euros from Barcelona, which is still the highest transfer fee in football history. From buying him to selling him, Barcelona made a profit of 134.4 million euros, which is also the highest so far.
Philippe Coutinho (Brazil)
Inter Milan ➠ Liverpool: 30 million euros
Liverpool ➠ Barcelona: 135 million euros
Liverpool's profit: 120 million euros
In the list of players sold for the highest profit, Liverpool follows Barcelona. The English club sold a Brazilian player, Philippe Coutinho, who became the most expensive player in the list after Neymar. Apart from Neymar and Coutinho, the top six players in terms of transfer fees are all French—Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann. Another addition to this list is Jude Bellingham, who was recently transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid.
Coutinho joined Liverpool from Inter Milan in 2013. He was bought by Liverpool for 30 million euros. However, despite his impressive performances, he couldn't win any major trophies with the English club. His main goal was to win the Champions League, which led him to join Barcelona in 2018. Barcelona sold him for 135 million euros, making a profit of 120 million euros for Liverpool.
However, Barcelona couldn't extract the best out of Coutinho's style of play. He also suffered from injuries. In 2020, his dream of winning the Champions League was fulfilled, but not with Barcelona; it happened while playing for Bayern Munich. After that, Barcelona didn't keep Coutinho for long and sold him to Aston Villa.
Paul Pogba (France)
Manchester United ➠ Juventus: Free transfer
Juventus ➠ Manchester United: 105 million euros
Juventus' profit: 100 million euros
After Neymar and Coutinho, it's the turn of the World Cup-winning French players. In the list, we have Juventus midfielder Pogba, Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
Manchester United did not renew their contract with Pogba when it expired in 2012. He became a free agent and joined Juventus. However, United quickly felt the absence of Pogba. Juventus also didn't waste the opportunity and brought Pogba back to United by paying 105 million euros. They made a profit of 100 million euros. Pogba's return to United became the record for the highest transfer fee for a player bought at a free transfer.
Jude Bellingham (England)
Birmingham City ➠ Borussia Dortmund: 32 million euros
Borussia Dortmund ➠ Real Madrid: 135 million euros
Borussia Dortmund's profit: 100 million euros
Recently, Borussia Dortmund has taken the upper hand in selling Bellingham at a high price in the list of highest-profit players. The German club sold the English midfielder to Real Madrid for 135 million euros, making a profit of 100 million euros. Bellingham, after Eden Hazard, became the most expensive player in Real Madrid's history.
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Even among English footballers, Bellingham has emerged as the second most expensive player in the list. He went to Manchester City for 117 million euros.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
Real Sociedad ➠ Atletico Madrid: 30 million euros
Atletico Madrid ➠ Barcelona: 120 million euros
Atletico Madrid's profit: 90 million euros
Like Coutinho, Griezmann also faced criticism in the Champions League. He couldn't replicate the success he had at Atletico Madrid after joining Barcelona. He couldn't achieve the trophy as he came close to doing so with Atletico in 2016. His dream was shattered by their city rivals, Real Madrid.
Eventually, Griezmann made the decision to leave Atletico Madrid. In 2019, he joined Barcelona. Atletico Madrid made a profit of 90 million euros by selling him. However, after just two years, Griezmann returned to Atletico Madrid, unable to stay away.