With this transfer window seeing many players reunited with former clubs, we look at five players who were bought back by their former club for a hugely inflated price.
In the Bundesliga, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels have switched back to Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, respectively, while Chelsea and Manchester United want to splash the cash on Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba after once deeming them dispensable.
Jack Gilmartin looks at five other occasions when a player has returned to a former club for big money – and with a point to prove…
5: Nemanja Matic
In the summer of 2011, Chelsea sold the unheralded Matic to Benfica for £1.5m after he had failed to make an impression on the Blues’ first team. During his time in Portugal, the Serbian was transformed into on of Europe’s top midfielders, won numerous trophies and was voted player of the season. This led to Chelsea having a change of heart, and they re-signed him for £25m, which proved good value as he went on to be at the core of a title winning Chelsea side.
4: Peter Crouch
Crouch was at Tottenham as a teenager but was let go for just £60,000 after failing to make a single appearance. The big striker played for a variety of club over the course of the next nine years, making an appearance in a Champions League final, winning the FA Cup and becoming a cult hero with supporters. He rejoined Spurs in 2009 for £10million, over 15 times what they had originally sold him for.
3: Graeme Le Saux
Le Saux left Chelsea after throwing somewhat of a tantrum at being regularly substituted. The left-back was sold for £70,000 to Blackburn Rovers and was an ever-present member of the title-winning side, becoming a regular England international in the process. In 1997, he was sold back to Chelsea for £5million, making him the most expensive defender in English football in the process, and went on to be a mainstay of the Chelsea team for six years.
2: Cesc Fabregas
After limited opportunities during his six years in Barcelona’s academy, Fabregas moved to Arsenal in 2003. The Spaniard became the key man in their midfield, helping inspire the Gunners to the 2006 Champions League final and winning PFA Young Player of the Year in the process. Known for his incisive passing and movement, he was soon appointed club captain, before eventually rejoining Barcelona in 2011 for £35million, following a long-running transfer saga.
1: Alan Shearer
Unbelievably, Newcastle had the chance to sign Shearer for free but turned down the opportunity after the striker had a trial at the club. The future England captain went on to join Southampton and became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick in the top flight. He subsequently moved to Blackburn, firing Rovers to their first ever Premier League title, while finishing as the division’s top scorer for three-consecutive years. The Magpies eventually signed him for a then-world record £15million in 1996, and he went on to be the club’s all-time record goal scorer.
If Pogba and Lukaku can emulate the success of these returning players, then Manchester United and Chelsea will view the figures as money well spent. No doubt both players will have something to prove after previously being deemed unworthy of being of a place in the respective starting XIs.