Selection of biggest transfer profits in football history

Liverpool stand to make a profit of up to £134million on Philippe Coutinho after his move to Barcelona.

The Brazil international signed from Inter Milan in 2013 for £8m and his departure, should all the add-ons in the deal be satisfied, could be worth up to £142m.

Here, Press Association Sport looks back at some of the biggest transfer profits in history.


Profit of 164.9m euros / £151.85m
Bought by Barcelona for 57.1million euros (£48.75m), sold for 222m euros (£200.6m)

Selection of biggest transfer profits in football history PLZ Soccer
Paris St Germain spent big on Neymar in the summer (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Barca’s signing of the Brazil star in 2013 was the subject of long-running debate and controversy, eventually leading to the resignation of then club president Sandro Rosell and the club disclosing a full breakdown of payments. These included a charitable donation and a fee for an option on future players from his Brazilian club Santos, as well as his wages and signing-on fee, but the club stood by 57.1m euros as the transfer fee. He moved on last summer when Paris St Germain met his release clause of 222m euros.

Ousmane Dembele

Profit of 91m euros / £86m
Bought by Borussia Dortmund for 14m euros (£10.8m), sold for 105m euros (£96.8m)

Dortmund took just one season, in which Dembele compiled 10 goals and 20 assists in all competitions, to make around seven and a half times what they paid as Barca sought to offset the loss of Neymar. A significant proportion went to his former club Rennes, however, as their 25 per cent sell-on fee on the France winger surpassed their record fee received.

Gareth Bale

Profit of £77.3m
Bought by Tottenham for up to £8m, sold for £85.3m

Selection of biggest transfer profits in football history PLZ Soccer
Gareth Bale introduces himself to Real Madrid fans (Nick Potts/PA)

Southampton could have been in a similar situation to Rennes, having negotiated a 25 per cent sell-on fee when Bale moved to Spurs for an initial £5m plus add-ons. Saints, then in League One and in financial peril, reportedly wrote off the future clauses in exchange for between £2m and £3m plus Tottenham youth-team goalkeeper Tommy Forecast. Bale’s then world-record move to Real Madrid in 2013 would have netted his formative club over £21m – they received barely a tenth of that, plus a keeper who never made an appearance for them, as Spurs trousered over £77m in profit.

Virgil van Dijk

Profit of £63.5m
Bought by Southampton for £11.5m, sold for £75m

Saints can at least take solace from this month’s business, which represents a profit of £63.5m on the former Celtic defender as Liverpool pre-emptively spent a major chunk of their Coutinho windfall – the remainder is effectively tied up in next summer’s move for Leipzig’s Naby Keita. Southampton enjoyed two and a half seasons, 92 appearances and seven goals from Van Dijk before cashing in.

Zinedine Zidane

Profit of £45m
Bought by Juventus for £3m, sold for £48m

Selection of biggest transfer profits in football history PLZ Soccer
Zidane brought trophies, and then a huge profit, to Juve (Michael Steele/EMPICS)

Another world-record capture for Real and another huge profit for the selling club – particularly coming as it did back in 2001. Zidane was named 1996’s Ligue 1 player of the year with Bordeaux before the Italian giants swooped. Five years, a Ballon d’Or, two Champions League finals and two major international titles with France later, Real made him their latest Galactico.

:: All fees are reported and approximate, with currency conversions conducted using exchange rates from the time of the transfer.

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