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5 football clubs who sold their best players

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates with the trophy after victory in the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Gareth Bale with the Champions League trophy in 2016
Tina Kaviraj
Modified 18 Jan 2017, 10:29 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

When you’re a club like Real Madrid, Manchester United or Barcelona, money is never an issue. Teams like these have the backing of millions, nay billions, at their disposal and, therefore, the power to but some of the biggest star footballers in the world. Of course, most don’t have such good fortune and have to work that extra bit to scout well and scout cheap and work at developing young talent. 

Many notable players in the past and even today are the result of such management. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t get his start at a big European club but instead at a modest club in Portugal. It was Sir Alex Ferguson who recognised his potential and signed him as a teenager. There are many clubs who nurture their own talent, scale the heights of greatness only to sell their best and pass into ignominy, sometimes. 

Football is replete with instances of clubs who sold their best players and suffered the brunt of that decision.

Here’s a look at five clubs who sold their success:

#5 Tottenham Hotspur 

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 25: Gareth Bale (L) of Real Madrid CF tocuhes his teammates head Luka Modric (L) during the celebration of their victory on the UEFA Champions League Final match against Club Atletico de Madrid at Cibeles square on the early morning of May, 25, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Real Madrid CF achieves their 10th European Cup at Lisbon 12 years later.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gareth Bale and Luka Modric during Real Madrid’s Champions League celebrations in 2016

The story of Tottenham Hotspur in recent years has been a case of ‘what if’. With no silverware to speak of since the League Cup victory of 2007-08, Spurs have only aspired to greatness without actually getting there. Case in point, the Premier League title race last season. In their second last game of the season against Chelsea, they lost their two-goal lead to hand Leicester City their extraordinary title win. 

While they were consumed by a sense of opportunities lost, they saw two of their former players, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, lift the Champions League trophy for the second time in three years. Both former Spurs players are at the height of their careers at the Bernabeu.


Ever since Spurs signed Mauricio Pochettino as manager in 2014, the side has seen an upward rise in their fortunes. The squad which boasts the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen combine attacking prowess with a strong defensive back-line. But with no replacement for Kane’s striking abilities and Eriksen's creativity, they could have loved to have the services of Bale and Modric. 

While the sale of the two stars brought in over £130 million to the club, there’s no price tag on a championship that could have been theirs if the stars had remained and played alongside their current squad.

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Published 18 Jan 2017, 10:03 IST
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