Football’s Greatest Journeymen: Researched & Revealed
Our research reveals which modern footballers have become the biggest journeymen, playing for the most clubs and travelling the most miles!
Jet-Setting Journeymen: The Most Successful in Today’s Game
In football, sometimes it takes a while for players to find a place to really call home. And for other players a home only feels like a home for a couple of years. Yes, we’re talking about those often maligned breed of footballers. The journeymen.
Players that bounce around from club to club, that put a shift in wherever they go, but are ultimately destined to be a many-club-man. We’re talking Peter Crouch, Craig Bellamy and Andy Cole in the Premier League era.
All top players loved by plenty of clubs. But who’s flying the flag for the journeymen of today? And which players are trotting the globe in search of football fame?
With the summer transfer window open from 10th June until 1st September, we set about finding out with our true celebration of the jet-setting journeymen.
We looked at the players currently plying their trade in the top eight leagues in Europe, specifically those with five or more recorded clubs, 10 or more international caps and total transfer fees of over £10million. We then tracked their clubs throughout their career via Transfermarkt and mapped their total journey between clubs using Google Maps.
And we found some interesting stats. The journeyman with the most kilometres in his legs has been around the world 1.7 times.
Some top players have played in seven different countries in their career and the player with the most clubs has turned out for an unbelievable 23 different teams. But which player is top of the league?
Clocking up 68834km, Chilean Charles Aránguiz is the world’s most well-travelled journeyman. In fact, the current Bayer Leverkusen central midfielder has travelled the equivalent of 1.7 times around the globe across his 10 separate moves during his career. What a journey for a player that’s still only 33.
His fellow countryman Alexis Sanchez has graced La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League across his 11 moves and 66645km of travel in his illustrious career. That’s nearly as many global trips as Aránguiz, while Enzo Roco makes it three Chileans in the top four, each with over 60,000km travelled.
Japanese international, Shoya Nakajima comes in third and former Chelsea youth team headline-maker Gaël Kakuta is fifth having played in six different countries across his unbelievable 23 moves. The Frenchman has played for more clubs than any other journeyman playing today!
Current Premier League players, Thiago Silva of Chelsea and Salomon Rondon of Everton take their places in the top eight with 58557 and 47318km travelled respectively. Silva can also add 33 trophies to his kilometres too, with 23 won with Paris Saint-Germain and the 2021 Champions League with Chelsea.
Some unbelievable stats from these well-travelled footballers!
Romelu Lukaku is the world’s most expensive journeyman
Top of the tree when it comes to transfer fees is Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku with the Belgian amassing a total of £293million across nine different moves. The Blues paid a club-record £97.5million for their number nine in 2021, 10 years after first signing him as a 17-year-old from Anderlecht.
Belgium’s record goal scorer has also enjoyed big money moves to Manchester United (£76.23million) and Inter Milan (£73 million). But money doesn’t always equal success, with just a single Serie A title and the Club World Cup to show for his efforts since his transfer value soared to over £70million.
Lukaku’s big rival Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes the top four behind Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann. The Swede has amassed over £150millon in transfer fees, with his 11 moves across seven different countries.
Arguably, the most successful expensive journeyman is Wales’ Gareth Bale. The winger may be down the pecking order currently at Real Madrid and eighth in the list of most expensive journeymen with total transfer fees of just over £104million, but you can’t ignore his four Champions League titles from his time at the Bernabéu.
French footballers – the most lucrative journeymen with over £1billion in transfer fees
When it comes to the country that produces the most lucrative journey on the planet, France is way out in front with a total of £1,174,540,000 spent in transfer fees on players born in the country.
World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann is top dog with total transfer fees of £165million, whilst Aston Villa’s Luca Digne and West Ham’s Kurt Zouma also make the top 10 of most expensive French journeymen.
With clubs including PSG, Barcelona, Everton and now Villa, Digne has enjoyed six moves and amassed £75million in transfer fees.
Zouma is something of a Premier League journeyman with spells at Chelsea, Everton, Stoke City and now the Hammers. With his time at Everton and Stoke being loan spells, it’s surprising to see the centre half with total transfer fees of £58.8million.
Italian and Spanish players have both amassed transfer fees of over £700million, while Brazilian, Portuguese, English, Argentinean and Belgian players have each totalled sales of over £500million.
In fact, with players from 25 different countries amassing over £100million in transfer fees it truly shows both the global nature and the money involved in the game today.
Wide midfield players are the least likely to become renowned journeymen
With strikers making the big money moves, it seems those that often act as their supply line are the ones least likely to make multiple moves for the top transfer fees. In fact, right and left wide midfield players are the only positions not to hit the £100million mark.
And the ongoing importance of a top quality centre-half to top teams today is shown by the fact that journeymen centre-halves have notched up a total of £1.3billion in transfer fees, second only to centre-forwards.
The BoyleSports view
Leon Blanche, BoyleSports’ Head of Communications, says: “Some of our most beloved players from decades gone by have the journeyman tag. Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Frank Worthington and even Eric Cantona.
“We want to celebrate these multi-club servants by looking at which players in today’s game can be classed as the most successful journeymen.
“The Premier League comes out on top of the transfer fees spent on journeymen players with over £3.5billion spent, so it’s only right we celebrate them in this country.
“From the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Thiago Silva, Zlatan, Kevin De Bruyne and Alexis Sanchez these players have had – and many continue to have – an unbelievable impact on football in the Premier League.
“For us at BoyleSports, we’re saying hats off to the journeymen of the game. It truly wouldn’t be the same without you.”
BoyleSports Football Ambassador Natalie Sawyer adds: “It’s all eyes on the skies for me this summer because there are sure to be some very important incoming journeys in what looks like a crucial transfer window for many clubs in the Premier League.
“Manchester City have already boosted their ranks with Erling Haaland and that is a frightening prospect for the chasing pack, who already have a gap to bridge to the champions!
“Manchester United need four or five at least and it’ll be interesting to see if Erik Ten Hag can bring the likes of Antony or Jurrien Timber with him from Ajax, while Liverpool could benefit greatly from a player like Aurelien Tchouameni, who could give them that added bite in midfield to get back on top next season.”
Have an eye on which journeyman will be making yet another move this summer? You can bet on every single transfer in the summer transfer window with our football transfer betting at BoyleSports.
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