Football remains big business and whilst the Premier League’s leading sides undoubtedly want to keep hold of their top talents, it certainly helps to pull in substantial sums for those stars who do depart.
Premier League sides have spent lavishly on improving their fortunes in the modern era, but driving a hard bargain for sales can create additional funds for investment as clubs bid to progress towards silverware success.
We’ve decided to look at some of the most notable departures in Premier League history and rank the record sales from the division’s biggest clubs.
Here are the most expensive transfer sales by each of the Premier League’s top six:
Arsenal – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£35m)
Arsenal‘s fortunes have faltered in recent years with the Gunners having fallen behind most of their Premier League rivals, whilst a haphazard approach to the transfer market has only widened the gap further.
The north London side have seen stars such as Robin van Persie, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey depart for reduced fees after allowing their contracts to wind down, with the club’s record sale the £35m that Liverpool paid to take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Anfield three years ago.
The England international opted for a new challenge with just one year remaining on his contract after spending six years of largely unfulfilled potential at the Emirates, though he has since progressed and enjoyed a fruitful spell on Merseyside, forming part of the Liverpool side which has won the Champions League and Premier League over the past two seasons.
Unlike with many of the other notable names to leave the club in recent years, Arsenal’s hierarchy managed to recoup a solid fee for Oxlade-Chamberlain, though their record sale remains a significant way short of their Premier League rivals.
Manchester City – Leroy Sane (£55m)
Few leading names have decided to leave Manchester City in recent years given the success and culture ingrained in the club over the past decade, the Etihad outfit the Premier League’s most successful side of modern times having won four league titles in the past nine seasons.
City’s financial power and status as regular challengers for silverware means that players have rarely agitated for a move, their record sale the loss of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich this summer.
The Germany international had refused to sign a new contract at the club and was keen to secure a move back to the Bundesliga, with the lure of the perennial German champions too difficult for the winger to resist.
Bayern capitalised on Sane’s contract situation – the 24-year-old entering the final year of his deal – to secure his signing for a relatively modest initial fee of £40.9m, though the fee could rise to around £55m with performance and trophy-related add-ons – a likely scenario given Bayern’s recent record of success.
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m)
Premier League sides will argue that English football’s top tier is the best domestic league in world football, but even with the league’s formidable finances and reputation, there is an undeniable lure of playing for Spanish football’s top two sides.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have often circled the Premier League’s top talents throughout the years, with the former splashing a world-record £80m to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009.
Sir Alex Ferguson had famously quipped he wouldn’t sell the Spaniards ‘a virus’ amid speculation linking the Ballon d’Or winner with the Bernabeu, but eventually relented following a record-breaking bid as Ronaldo secured a dream move to the Bernabeu.
Whilst United reinvested the fee by signing the rather less glamorous talents of Antonio Valencia, an ageing Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan that summer, Ronaldo proved a bargain buy for Real Madrid, becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer and winning the Champions League and Ballon d’Or on four occasions after moving to the Spanish capital.
Tottenham – Gareth Bale (£85m)
Ronaldo’s record-breaking fee lastest for four years until Real Madrid again came in for the Premier League’s finest footballer, smashing the world-record once more to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
Bale had established himself as one of the most exciting attackers in world football following some scintillating performances for Spurs, being named as the PFA Player of the Year twice in three seasons after developing into a talismanic figure for the north London side.
The Welsh international joined a stellar cast of talent at the Bernabeu and helped Real Madrid to a first Champions League title in more than a decade during his debut season, scoring in the club’s extra-time final victory over Atletico Madrid as the fabled La Decima was secured under Carlo Ancelotti.
Bale has since lifted club football’s biggest prize on a further three occasions – memorably scoring a match-winning brace as a substitute against Liverpool in 2018 – in addition to two La Liga titles, but has become an increasingly peripheral figure after falling out-of-favour in Spain, his public defiance to his ever diminishing status doing little to improve his prospects.
Bale’s Spanish venture looks unlikely to end unhappily, though he remains one of British football’s most successful exports after a Real career that has delivered over a century of goals and a wealth of major honours.
Chelsea – Eden Hazard (£88m)
The third player on this list to leave the Premier League for the bright lights of the Bernabeu, Eden Hazard became Real Madrid’s latest Galactico signing after choosing to leave Chelsea last summer.
Hazard had sparkled throughout seven successful seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa League trophies and both domestic cups before heading to Spain.
The brilliant Belgian was also named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year during the first of those title-winning campaigns, but had long held ambitions to represent Real Madrid and completed a big-money move to the Spanish capital.
Hazard’s debut season has been one of frustration despite Real’s coronation as Spanish giants, however, struggling for form and fitness and suffering a fractured ankle that kept him sidelined for several months.
He finished his first season in Spain having scored just once in 16 league appearances, and will hope to rediscover his best form ahead of the new campaign.
Liverpool – Philippe Coutinho (£142m)
Liverpool‘s success in recent seasons has come from some stellar work in the transfer market, the Merseyside club having regularly received notable fees for outgoing players.
The most significant came with the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018, the Brazilian sold for a Premier League record fee of £142m after agitating for a move to the Camp Nou.
Coutinho’s departure saw the Reds make a huge profit on a player signed for just £8.5m from Inter Milan five years earlier, whilst the record-breaking fee was used wisely to invest in the talents of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, two players who have made vital contributions to the recent success of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Coutinho has enjoyed a wealth of silverware success since his departure two-and-a-half years ago despite his own personal status having slipped somewhat, winning two La Liga titles with the Spanish side before spending the past season on-loan at Bayern Munich, the Brazil international forming part of the squad which claimed a historic Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League treble.