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5 players who were sold for ridiculously cheap fees

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 15:54 IST

Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League
Crystal Palace paid just £3m to bring Wilfried Zaha back from Man United

Transfers in football are an important business and getting the most out of the transfer market is one of the key areas to succeeding as a club and as a manager. Overpay for a player who turns out to be a flop and it can not only cause embarrassment, but it could also cause major damage to the prospects of a season.

Sometimes though, for one reason or another, great players have been sold incredibly cheaply and then gone on to tremendous feats at their new club, winning leagues and cups and ending up with far more success than their initial club figured they would. I’m not talking unknowns who turned out to be bargains here – more well-known players who fell out of favour at a club.

Here are 5 players who were sold at ridiculously cheap prices.

#1: Eric Cantona - £1.2m

Eric Cantona of Manchester United
Eric Cantona went on to legendary status at Manchester United - but only cost £1.2m

It remains one of football’s all-time greatest head-scratchers. Why Leeds United decided to sell Eric Cantona to bitter rivals Manchester United for an incredibly low fee of £1.2m remains somewhat of a mystery over 25 years on. Granted, he’d only cost Leeds a paltry £900k to begin with, but even so, to sell him to United – who’d finished second to Leeds in the 1991/92 season prior to the inauguration of the Premier League – was bizarre.

Some would argue that in 1992, transfer fees were much smaller. But even by the standards of the time, £1.2m was remarkably low for a player the calibre of Cantona. While at Leeds he hadn’t quite developed the monstrous reputation he’d go on to earn at United, but he’d still been an important part of the side, and for comparisons sake United also spent £1m on Dion Dublin just months prior to signing the Frenchman.

Of course, history has shown ‘King Eric’ to be one of football’s all-time great bargains. He went on to inspire United to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups and is generally considered one of the Red Devils’ true legends. Cantona for his part has since stated that the reason Leeds allowed him to leave was due to his poor relationship with then-boss Howard Wilkinson, but even so – surely they could’ve demanded more than just £1.2m for him.

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Published 10 May 2018, 16:23 IST
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