The top three most expensive manager appointments ever as Xabi Alonso, Ruben Amorim await big moves

Julian Nagelsmann, Graham Potter and Andre Villas Boas

These managers all changed clubs for huge fees

With top teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona all in the search for a manager, there are a few top candidates out there.

The likes of Ruben Amorim and Xabi Alonso especially are the names on a lot of fans’ lips. However, they’ll likely come at a big cost.

But how much are the most expensive managers ever?

1. Julian Nagelsmann – RB Leipzig to Bayern Munich for £21.7m

At one point Nagelsmann was one of the managers considered to be a future elite manager to become one of the best. The fact he was named as Bundesliga manager of the year back in 2016/17 makes you realise just how long he’s been in the game.

But the biggest shock is the fact he’s only 36 right now – meaning when he won manager of the year back at Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann was only 29 years old! For such a young manager he’s achieved a lot already and impressed at many stages.

Moving to RB Leipzig in 2019, he brought an exciting attacking style which mixed well with the pressing Red Bull style.

At Leipzig he impressed a lot. This is where his reputation reached it’s highest. Each year they were improving. In 2019-20 Leipzig finished in 3rd place in the Bundesliga and got into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League – an impressive feat for such a young manager and team.

RB Leipzig finished third in the 2019-20 Bundesliga

Julian Nagelsmann led RB Leipzig to third in the 2019-20 Bundesliga

It was a team that featured the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, Christopher Nkunku, Dani Olmo, Marcel Sabitzer, Timo Werner, Ademola Lookman, Tyler Adams, Ethan Ampadu and many more top players.

The following season (2020/21) Leipzig finished in 2nd place behind champions Bayern Munich, were the runners up in the DFB-Pokal to Borussia Dortmund, and finished 2nd behind PSG and ahead of Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir in their Champions League group, then were knocked out by Liverpool in the round of 16. It was a successful season for Leipzig and the highest they’ve reached in the league in their history in consecutive seasons.

It was clear that Bayern wanted to weaken their rivals whilst strengthening themselves by securing the signature of the most exciting young manager around.

During his tenure at Bayern Munich he won one Bundesliga title and two German Super Cups. In his first season (2021/22) his Bayern side were knocked out of the Champions League by Unai Emery’s Villarreal in the quarter-finals with an on-aggregate scoreline of 2-1.

It was a very disappointing end to their Champions League campaign considering the expectation is for them to reach the latter stages as Bayern are always one of the favourites.

Along with this they of course managed to win the league and Super Cup, but did get knocked out of the DFB-Pokal in only the second round with an emphatic 5-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach.

READ MORE7 candidates to replace Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich: Former Man Utd boss, Liverpool icon

With such a young manager, time is needed as they’re often learning on the job and don’t come with vast experience and especially little to no experience at the elite side of football where expectations are highest. But a lot of time wasn’t given and in the end he was sacked in the middle of the 2022/23 season.

Following that, Nagelsmann is now the Germany manager. Another big task. He might be on the move in the near future though as there’s a lot of top teams in need of their next long-term manager.

2. Graham Potter – Brighton to Chelsea for £20m

Next up is English manager Graham Potter. The timing of when he moved came as a reaction to how good his Brighton side had become in 2022/23.

Potter had taken over at Brighton in 2019, moving from Swansea City. In 2018/19, Chris Hughton was the Brighton manager and it wasn’t till May that Potter came in. In that season Brighton finished 17th and in Potter’s first full season, Brighton finished 15th in the Premier League.

The following season they’d finish 16th. Only a slight improvement on paper, but on the pitch there was a big improvement in how entertaining and attacking their style of play was. This showed even more so the following season (2021/22) where Brighton finished 9th, which included an impressive 4-0 win against Manchester United at the end of the season.

It was then the following season when Potter was brought in by Chelsea as the successor to Thomas Tuchel who was sacked in September 2022 after a poor start to the season and the rumours of him falling out with the new owner Todd Boehly.

Potter’s arrival seemingly was the start of a new era for Chelsea where they changed their recruitment strategy to focussing on bringing in lots of young players with high potential. In order for this to be a success they needed a manager who put his trust in youth and could be a young exciting manager they could invest into their long-term future.

Potter seemingly fit the bill and was brought in for a record fee in English football. Owner Todd Boehly saw what Brighton were doing and wanted to bring it over to Chelsea. Potter is actually just one of 11 staff members at Brighton that have been signed by Todd Boehly at Chelsea in just 17 months. Others include Potter’s assistant Bruno Saltor (who was interim manager after Potter was sacked), Paul Winstanley and players such as Robert Sanchez, Marc Cucurella and Moises Caicedo.

It should come as no surprise then that one of their top candidates for their next manager is Roberto De Zerbi.

Graham Potter's managerial spells

Graham Potter’s managerial spells

Potter’s Chelsea career didn’t last too long as he was sacked in April, only seven months after he was brought in. Without even a full season, it’s a strange investment of such large money to sack a manager so quickly.

Potter’s contract when signed was a five-year contract worth over £50m. When sacking him, Chelsea had to pay him compensation, making Potter a very expensive outlay for only seven months at the club.

Potter hasn’t moved to another club since he’s left Chelsea but with teams like Manchester United linked, we might see him back in the Premier League real soon.

3. Andre Villas-Boas – FC Porto to Chelsea for £13.3m

Probably the most staggering thing about this transfer fee is that despite being the third highest it’s also the oldest deal out of the lot of them. Villas-Boas moved to Chelsea back in 2011 whereas the other four managers in the top five (including Brendan Rodgers to Leicester in fourth and Amorim himself to Sporting in fifth) were between 2019 to 2022, all of them much more recent since money in football has reached astronomical heights.

But it just shows how much then owner Roman Abramovich spent to bring the young Portuguese manager relative to the current market. At the time, the record fee was the £6.8m that Real Madrid spent to bring in two-time Champions League winner Jose Mourinho over from Inter Milan.

The reasoning for Chelsea bringing in Villas-Boas was seemingly linked to the club’s previous successes with the aforementioned Mourinho. Villas-Boas got into coaching at a young age and worked under Mourinho as one of his assistants at Porto, Chelsea, and Inter Milan.

Following this, he went on to pursue his career as a manager with his first managerial job coming managing Academica in the Primeira Liga. At the time they were in the relegation zone and Villas-Boas got them to safety in style playing attractive football which brought him to Porto’s attention.

In 2010, he became Porto manager where he had an outstanding season for the club. He started the season with a win in the Portuguese Super Cup against bitter rivals Benfica.

Villas-Boas’ Porto won the 2010/11 Primeira Liga going unbeaten for the whole season, winning the title by 21 points and only conceding 13 goals.

On top of this, his Porto side also won the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League. At only 33 years old, he was the youngest manager to win the Primeira Liga and the youngest to win a European competition.

A young Portuguese manager at Porto winning a European trophy and winning a title, playing attractive football all whilst not conceding many goals. Sound like someone else?

The comparisons to Mourinho were natural and Abramovich thought he’d have the same level of success at Chelsea.

Unfortunately for Villas-Boas, he didn’t last too long at Chelsea where he was sacked in March. Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo then took over and led Chelsea to an FA Cup win and their first ever Champions League win. They also finished 6th in the Premier League.

Maybe if Villas-Boas had stayed he could’ve won this too, but this certainly ruined his reputation after it had been sky high as the next potentially elite manager.

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