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10 players whose transfer fee didn't match their talents

  • Transfer fees are a constant point of contention, and the following 10 players were bought for fees that simply didn't match their talents.
Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 06 Mar 2020, 02:27 IST

Did Barcelona pay too much for Ousmane Dembele?
Did Barcelona pay too much for Ousmane Dembele?

There are few things in football that garner as much attention and column inches as a player’s transfer fee. The modern world of football is simply obsessed with money, and so discussion of the worth of a player is always a hot topic.

Of course, throughout the history of football – especially from the 90s onwards, when transfer fees began to spiral wildly out of control – there have been plenty of players who moved for fees that simply didn’t match up to their abilities – and eventual achievements – on the pitch.

Here are 10 players whose transfer fees didn’t match up to their talents – players that were either extraordinarily cheap, or far too expensive.

#1 Eric Cantona - £1.2m (Leeds United to Manchester United, 1992)

Eric Cantona cost Manchester United a bargain £1.2m
Eric Cantona cost Manchester United a bargain £1.2m

Eric Cantona arrived in England from France in January 1992 with Leeds United, carrying the reputation of a player who was sublimely talented, but somewhat of a loose cannon. Leeds fans, however, only saw the good side of him, and in his debut season with the club, he helped them to win the old First Division title.

After scoring 6 goals in 13 games during the maiden Premier League season, though, the French forward made a shocking move, heading to Leeds’ bitter rivals Manchester United for a fee of just £1.2m.

Football legend suggests that United weren’t initially looking to sign Cantona, and only enquired about his availability when Leeds made an enquiry about defender Denis Irwin; regardless, the move turned out to be a hugely significant one for the Red Devils.

When Cantona arrived at Old Trafford, United were lagging behind in the Premier League title race – but the Frenchman’s talents galvanised the team and they ended up storming to their first top flight league title in 26 years.

Cantona went on to score 82 goals for the Red Devils over the course of 5 seasons, helping them to win another 3 Premier League titles and 2 FA Cups, and was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1993-94.


Not only did ‘King Eric’ become the Premier League’s first overseas superstar – paving the way for future talents like Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo – but he also cost around the same amount of money as current star Paul Pogba earns in a month, making him one of football’s all-time great bargains.

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Published 06 Mar 2020, 02:27 IST
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