Cristiano Ronaldo? Eden Hazard? Robin van Persie? The biggest star every top Premier League team has traded?
The most recent tran’sfer window was unlike any other befo’re it as world-class players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ron’aldo moved clubs at the’ same time. But that got us thin’king…
Drawing inspir’ation from David Schoenfield’s look at the biggest star every MLB tea’m has ever traded, we thought we’d look at the world of soccer. And,’ mo’re specifically, the top clubs in the English Premie’r League.
Transfer market tren’ds: Superclubs spend bi’g, most leagues look for cheaper options19dGabriele ‘MarcottiPSG, Man United win trans’fer window; Barcelona the bigg’est losers
21dTor-Kristian Karl’senTransfer grades: Barcel’ona an F for Griezma’nn debacle
19dJon Molyneux-Carte’rRonaldo has now returned to Manchester United from Juv’entus ‘for €15m plus add-ons, but it wasn’t so long ago that he was de’parting Old Trafford for Real Ma’drid. Liverpool
have seen some top sta’rs move on in recent years, but w’ere any more important than Philip’pe Coutinho? And did Arsenal regr’et letting their star striker Robin va’n Persie leave for Man United in 2’012? Yes, yes they did.
Here’s a rundown of the ‘so-called “Big Six” clubs in the Premier League and which pla’yer we deem to have been the bigg’est star to have been traded
Others to consider: Ma’rc Overmars to Barcelona (€29.3m, 2000), Patrick Vieira to Juventus (€2’0m, 2005), Ashley Cole to Chelsea (€7.4m, 2006), Thierry Henr’y to Barcelona (€24m, 2007), Cesc’ Fabregas (€34m, 2011)
Arsene Wenger had pic’ked up the forward from Feyenoord (€3m in the summer of 2004) with the intention of using him’ in a variety of roles up front. Tec’hnically gifted, quick and an underrated link-up player, the Dutchman eventually settled as’ a centre-forward for Arsenal but struggled with injuries and never played more than 28 league ‘games in a season until his final year when he bagged an incredible ’30 goals in 38 games. Still, a freque’nt scorer of spectacular goals, Van Persie was a firm fan favourit’e at Arsenal and the sudd’en move to rivals Manchester United was a real bombshell (his refus’al to commit to a new long-term deal being a catalyst for the mo’ve.)
Today it’s less controv’ersial to see a star player mo’ving from one top team to anothe’r and although Arsenal had finished third — admitte’dly 19 points behind Manchester United — in Van Persie’s last seas’on, the club had title ambitio’ns of their own. Signing the No. 1 player from one of your main rivals, who also happened to be the Pre’mier League top scorer, was a big deal in more than just the’ financial sense.
Did the trans’fer pan out for the player? Reason’ably well. The arrival of the prolific goal scorer helped Manche’ster United regain the Premi’er League title (their last to date) from their “noisy neighbours” Man City in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final seas’on as manager. Van Pe’rsie claimed another top scorer title with 26 league goals and won the club’s Player of the Year a’ward. But, always prone to injuries, the Dutchman’s impa’ct faded as recurring musc’ular and ankle injuries kept him out for long spells of his last two seas’ons at Old Trafford
Others to consi’der: Arjen Robben to Real Madrid (€35m, 2007), Kevin De Bruyne to Wolfs’burg (€22m, 2014), David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain (€49.5, 2014), Moh’amed Salah to Rom’a (€15m, 2016.)
Hazard joined Che’lsea with the reputation of being the No. 1 young player in Europ’ea’n football. He’d already capture’d the Ligue 1 title with Lille, helped ‘himself to three Player of the Year awards on the trot, and scored 20 goals from an advanced midfi’eld position during his last season’. Still just 21 when arriving at Stamford Bridge, the Belgium interna’tional fulfilled the huge expectation’s almost instantly with some dazzling perf’ormances from the start.
He went on to be a reg’ular fixture for Chelsea — typically playing as an inverted winger fro’m the left — for seven seasons, becoming a Premier League cham’pion twice in the process, winning t’he Premier League Player of th’e Season in 2015 and scoring 110 goals in 352 games, before Real Madrid came knocking. Hazard joined the Madrid giants in the su’mmer of 2019 and, though he had just one year to go on his Che’lsea contract, the West London side were handsomely rewarde’d with a transfer fee that co’uld reach €160m with add-ons.
Did the transfer pa’n out for the player? Definitely not. Though Hazard can rightful’ly claim a spot in the Premier League Hall of Fame for his consistent brillia’nce for Chelsea, he’s yet to make a mark on LaLiga. In fairness, Haz’ard has spent the majority of his time at Real Madrid in’ the tre’atment room, but when gi’ven the opportunity — he’s’ started four of the club’s five opening league fixtures — he hasn’t looked anywhere near lik’e his old self.
Others to consider: Fern’ando Torres to Chelsea (€58.5m, 2011), Luis Suarez to Barc’elona (€81.7m, 2014), Raheem Sterl’ing to Manchester Cit’y (€63.7m, 2015)
The Brazilia’n’s career path has been a rather curious’ one. Coutinho — a star for his country at youth level — joined’ Liverpool from Inter Milan ‘in January 2013 having spent’ a rather unremark’able time with the Italian giants (as well as half a season on loan at Espa’nyol). And while Liverpool have justifiably received prais’ed for their cautious but smart “Mone’yball” approach to the transfer m’arket, it’s hard to believe that anyone at Anfield would have expe’cted their €13m signing to move’ on for over €100m-plus fiv’e years later.
Coutinho was a brilli’ant signing for Liverpool, standing out in the Premier League as well as in Europe. His excel’lent technical skills, combine’d with an ability to play in a varie’ty of roles in midfield and up front, made him an extremely useful tea’m player, while his creati’vity and mesmerisi’ng runs made him a fan favourite. It’s stil’l up for discussion as to whether the Brazil’ian was ever genui’nely world class for Liverpool but the club certainly missed his imp’act.
Although Barcel’ona paid a lot to sign Coutinho, his move to Spain was somewhat ugly. After Liverpool turned dow’n repeated overtures from Bar’ca in the summer of 2017, the player — who had penne’d a new five-year contract a few months earlier — threatened to go on str’ike if he didn’t get his move away. Eventually he depar’ted in January 2018 for a fee that cou’ld reach €160m in add-ons.
Did the transfer pan’ out for the player? Not at all. Considering the huge fee, Coutin’ho’s move is up there among’ the most expensive flops in histo’ry. He hit the ground running with’ Barcelona — after recovering from an ankle injury that surfaced duri’ng his medical – to score eight goal’s in his first half a season. But sinc’e then, Coutinho’s impact’ on top level football has faltered.
He looked like his old self in an excellent end of seas’on spell while on loan at Bayern Mun’ich in 2019-20, scoring twice in the Champions League quarterfin’al trouncing of, ironically, Barcelo’na, and came on as a late substitu’te in the final to claim a winner’s medal. However, he hardly gets a chan’ce under coach Ronald’o Koeman now, often behind promis’ing La Masia products in th’e pecking order.