Released Players Who’ve Returned For Transfer Fees
It looks like Jose Mourinho has pulled off the coup of this summer’s transfer window as Paul Pogba returns to grey North-West England just 4 years after he left for free.
It’s a move that has cost Man United a world record £89m fee so today we look at other players who’ve been released by clubs only to return again for a transfer fee.
Newcastle United could have saved themselves £15 million if they’d played the future all-time Premier League top scorer in his correct position during a trial as a teenager. The Toon inexplicably stuck the Match of the Day pundit in goals as they were looking for a keeper at the time.
He unsurprisingly didn’t impress during the two-day tryout and joined Southampton instead, where he scored a hat-trick on his league debut.
He subsequently won the league at Blackburn Rovers before Newcastle swallowed their pride and splashed out a world record transfer fee for the striker in 1996.
Lambert spent five formative years at his beloved Liverpool before being released on the scrap-heap at the age of 15, having been told he wasn’t good enough for the club.
A professional career seemed unlikely, never mind a return to Anfield, when he was subsequently given a free transfer by Blackpool. His next move was an improbable one for a future England striker. At 18 Michael Owen was setting the world alight at the 1998 World Cup. At the same age, Lambert began bottling beetroot in a Merseyside factory for twenty quid a day.
However, he was determined to carve a career in the game, working his way up through a series of non- and lower league clubs before signing for Southampton in 2009. His form with The Saints persuaded Brendan Rodgers that the 31-year old was finally good enough for the Anfield club, who paid £4 million to find out they had got it right first time round.
Cesc Fabregas & Gerard Pique
Barcelona’s La Masia complex is renowned worldwide as an exemplary breeding ground for future stars. Graduates include the likes of Victor Valdes, Sergio Busquets, Carlos Puyol, Pep Guardiola, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi. With Barca’s first team highly competitive to break into, it’s therefore unsurprising when some wonderkids slip through the net.
Pique spent seven years in Barcelona’s youth teams before moving to Manchester United in search of first-team action. He made twelve appearances for the Old Trafford club before Barca realised their mistake and bought back Mr. Shakira for £5 million more than they’d let him go for.
Similarly, Fabregas did not feature in the Catalans’ first team plans, despite being a prolific scorer in their youth teams, and moved to Arsenal on a free in 2003. He immediately won his place in the Gunners’ side and spent eight years in London before Barca re-signed their former protégé for £35 million after a two-year pursuit.
Leighton Baines & Phil Jagielka
The person in charge of youth team contracts at Everton in the mid-1990s made a ten million pound mistake. England defenders Baines and Jagielka were both released, along with a bloke called Joey Barton, in 1996 before impressing elsewhere.
Baines shone at Wigan, while Jagielka forged a reputation at Sheffield United before The Toffees bit the bullet and re-signed their former charges for £6 million and £4 million respectively. That combined total is only half of what Man United are expected to pay Paul Pogba’s agent to get the deal of the century over the line.