Players who re-joined former clubs for more money
Southampton have completed the signing of Danny Ings, who they released as a school boy for being too small, for £18m. In this slideshow we take a look at other examples of clubs swallowing their pride to bring back players they previously let go at vastly inflated prices.
Younes Kaboul (Tottenham)
Sold for £6m, bought back for £9.5m
Kaboul initially joined Tottenham from Auxerre in 2007, but his failure to impress Juande Ramos meant he was on the move again the following summer. Harry Redknapp was happy to take him to Portsmouth, with the centre-back becoming a fans' favourite at Fratton Park.
His performances there tempted Spurs into a reconciliation 18 months later, with Redknapp – by now in charge at the Lane and covering his new club's embarrassment by describing the Frenchman as a "late developer" – happy to fork out another £9.5m for the centre-back. Kaboul went on to make 89 league appearances before joining Sunderland in 2015.
Graeme Le Saux (Chelsea)
Sold for £700,000, bought back for £5m
Jersey-born Le Saux spent two years in Chelsea's youth setup before signing his first professional contract in 1989. The full-back was frustrated at constantly being substituted by manager Ian Porterfield, though, and was sold to Blackburn after throwing his shirt on the floor in a match against Southampton.
Le Saux was ever-present throughout Rovers’ Premier League-winning campaign in 1994-95 and played in the Champions League the following season – but by 1997 he was back at Chelsea as the Blues made him the most expensive defender in England, paying £5m for his signature.
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Sold for nothing, bought back for £5m
A graduate of Barcelona's La Masia academy, Pique joined Manchester United before the Catalan club could offer him a professional deal. The defender spent four years at Old Trafford but made only 12 league appearances as he struggled to break into the starting XI; realising that he might never usurp Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic, he returned to Barcelona in 2008 for around £5m.
Pique has gone from strength to strength since then, establishing himself as one of the world's foremost defenders by winning eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, plus a World Cup and European Championship apiece with Spain.
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Sold for £6m, bought back for £15.75m
Defoe has represented five Premier League clubs in his career, and made over half of his top-flight appearances in north London with Tottenham. The striker, who first moved to White Hart Lane for £7m in 2004, scored 43 goals in 139 matches for Spurs before joining Portsmouth four years later.
Defoe was even more prolific on the south coast, netting almost a goal every game on average in the Premier League, but was back at Tottenham just 12 months later in a deal worth £15.75m – more than double what Spurs had sold him for just a year earlier.
Peter Crouch (Tottenham and Portsmouth)
Spurs: Sold for £72,000, bought for £10m
Pompey: Sold for £5m, bought for £11m
Crouch is a unique player on this list, having been re-signed by two clubs for more money than he was sold for. A youth player at Tottenham in the late 1990s, the striker moved to QPR for £72,000 in 2000 without ever making a single appearance for Spurs.
Spells with the likes of Aston Villa, Southampton and Liverpool followed, before Crouch returned to White Hart Lane in 2009, signing a five-year deal with his boyhood club after Portsmouth – who he had represented in 2001-02 before returning seven seasons later – accepted a bid of £10m.
Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Sold for free, bought back for £15m
While Reus has had plenty of chances to follow Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan and Mats Hummels through the door in recent years, he remains a Borussia Dortmund player after returning to the club for £15m in 2012.
The Germany international did leave the club at one stage of his career, though, joining Rot Weiss Ahlen aged 17 in 2006. He then spent three years at Borussia Monchengladbach, where he established himself as one of the Bundesliga's most exciting young players. BVB wasted little time in snapping him up in 2012, and Reus has shown no signs of wanting to depart again since.
Alan Shearer (Newcastle)
Failed trial, bought 'back' for £15m
When Shearer shot to prominence at Southampton, it was a surprise to many when they discovered he was a born-and-bred Geordie from the opposite end of the country.
The future England international, who remains the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals, would have stayed in the north-east if he'd had his way, but Newcastle were unimpressed at his performance in a trial game. He returned to his boyhood club in 1996, joining the Magpies – who were rewarded with 206 goals over the next decade – for a world-record fee of £15m.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Swapped along with £21m for David Luiz, bought back for £22.95m
A £1.5m pick-up from Slovakian outfit Kosic, Matic joined Chelsea in 2009 but struggled to break through into the starting XI. A loan move to Vitesse brought valuable game time, but Carlo Ancelotti deemed him surplus to requirements in 2011, selling the midfielder to Benfica as part of the deal which took David Luiz in the other direction.
Matic excelled in Portugal as manager Jorge Jesus converted him from a playmaker into a defensive screen. Chelsea recognised their error in 2014 and brought him back to Stamford Bridge for £22.95m, with Matic becoming an essential member of the Blues' title-winning team in 2014/15.
Nicolas Anelka (PSG)
Sold for £500,000, bought back for £22m
Anelka took his first steps at PSG in 1996, and it wasn't long before Europe's elite (the Parisians rarely even won Ligue 1 in those days, kids) were being linked with the talented French forward. Arsenal parted with £500,000 to bring him to Highbury; two years later, Real Madrid – armed with £22.3 million – came calling.
Anelka struggled to settle in Spain and soon went on the hunt for another club. He ultimately ended up full-circling his way back to the Parc des Princes, with PSG paying around £22m for his services in 2000. Ten goals in 39 league outings didn’t appease supporters, though, and Anelka was on the move again in 2001.
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)
Sold for free, bought back for £27m
Like Gerard Pique, Fabregas also began his youth career at Barcelona but departed for England at an early age. Arsenal were the beneficiaries on this occasion, and the Spaniard became the Gunners' youngest ever player in 2003 before going on to wear the armband as club captain a few seasons later.
A return to Barça was always in the midfielder's mind, though, and Fabregas eventually sealed a move back home for £27m in 2011. But things didn't really work out at the Camp Nou, and the then-27-year-old returned to the Premier League with Chelsea three years later.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Sold for free, bought back for £89m
Manchester United were accused of tapping up a teenage Pogba in 2009, when they brought him to Old Trafford from French side Le Havre. The midfielder initially joined United’s youth academy but gradually progressed to the first team, although a lack of senior appearances ultimately drove him to Juventus on a free transfer in 2012.
Pogba starred for the Italian outfit, winning four Serie A titles and helping Max Allegri’s side reach the 2015 Champions League Final over four seasons in Turin. United, realising the error of their ways, parted with a world-record fee of £89m to bring him back to Old Trafford in 2016 - but he could be on the move again this summer, perhaps even to Juventus.
Peter Beardsley (Newcastle)
Released for nothing, bought back for £150,000
A member of the famous Wallsend Boys Club which helped to launch the careers of Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick and Steve Bruce among others, Beardsley caught the attention of Newcastle scouts as a boy. He failed to make the cut at his boyhood club, though, and was released as a teenager.
The forward spent the next three years at Carlisle, Vancouver Whitecaps and Manchester United (that well-trodden path), before Newcastle tucked into some humble pie and brought him back on board for £150,000 in 1983. In fairness to the Magpies he proved to be worth every penny, scoring 61 goals in 162 appearances to earn a £1.9m switch to Liverpool. Beardsley later re-joined the Magpies for a second time, spending four more years at St James' Park in the mid-1990s.
Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)
Sold for £3.8m, bought back for £31.5m
Hummels first joined Bayern at the age of six and remained in the club’s youth ranks for 11 years, before graduating to the first team in 2006/07. He only made two senior appearances for the Bavarians, however, before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund in 2007, a move which was later made permanent for £3.8m.
Hummels gradually established himself as one of Europe’s top centre-backs at Signal Iduna Park, winning two Bundesliga titles and reaching the Champions League final under Jurgen Klopp. Yet in terms of status Bayern remained top dogs in Germany, and they duly snapped up Hummels for £31.5m in 2016. Three years on and he’s back at Dortmund, re-signing for around £29.6m last month.
Don Hutchison (West Ham)
Sold for nothing, bought back for £5m
Five million pounds is small change to Premier League clubs these days, but that represented the highest transfer fee West Ham had ever paid when they deposited it in Sunderland's bank account in exchange for Hutchison in 2001. The Scotland international was returning for a second spell with the Hammers having departed five years earlier, when he joined Sheffield United for £1.2m.
The midfielder ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during his first season back at Upton Park, an injury which saw him miss the remainder of 2001/02 and most of the following campaign too. Finding himself out of favour upon his return, Hutchison joined local rivals Millwall after being released in 2005.
Martin Keown (Arsenal)
Sold for £200,000, bought back for £2m
Handed his Arsenal debut by Don Howe in November 1985, Keown was well regarded at Arsenal and expected to become a first-team regular in the coming years. George Graham, Howe's successor, didn't take to the centre-back, though, and Keown was shipped off to Aston Villa for £200,000 in 1986.
That wasn't the end of his Gunners career, however - far from it. Keown returned to north London in 1993, Graham recognising the error of his ways by sanctioning a £2m deal. The England international went on to win three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Cup Winners' Cup at Highbury, before hanging up his boots in 2005 after short spells at Leicester and Reading.
Mariano Diaz (Real Madrid)
Sold for £7.2m, bought back for £19.35m
When Cristiano Ronaldo made it clear that he wanted to join Juventus last summer, Real Madrid faced the onerous task of trying to replace a man who had scored 450 goals over the last nine seasons. In the end los Blancos decided to largely stick with what they had - a decision which resulted in their worst campaign for years - although the then-European champions did opt to bring Mariano back from Lyon.
The striker had only been away from the Santiago Bernabeu for 12 months, sold for £7.2m in 2017 and re-acquired for almost three times that amount. Bravely accepting Ronaldo's No.7 shirt, Mariano scored four goals in 19 outings.
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