With less than a month to go until the 2022/23 season gets underway in the majority of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, the transfer market is a hive of activity.
We’ve already seen a number of high-profile deals completed this summer. Chief among them has been Manchester City’s signing of prolific Norwegian striker Erling Haaland.
Bargains like Haaland are few and far between in the modern game. In their quest to put together the most successful squads possible, clubs have frequently paid vastly inflated transfer fees down the years.
Sometimes these gambles have paid off, on other occasions they have backfired spectacularly.
Thanks to the number crunchers over at Transfermarkt, we’ve been able to identify the most ‘overpriced’ players in the game (based on the transfer fee that was paid for them, less their market value at the time).
We’ve then sorted them by position to assemble the most overpriced XI in football history. Inclusion is based purely on the data, meaning that performance isn’t taken into account.
Man City might have bagged a great deal where Haaland is concerned, but the reigning Premier League champions are certainly no strangers to paying over the odds for a star name.
Let’s now take a look at the most overpriced XI of all time.
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea) – £54m difference
Transfer fee: £72m
Market value at time of deal: £18m
CB: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool) – £49.19m
Transfer fee: £76.19m
Market value at the time of deal: £27m
CB: Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City) – £36m
Transfer fee: £58.5m
Market value at the time of deal: £22.5m
CB: Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United) – £33.3m
Transfer fee: £78.3m
Market value at the time of deal: £45m
CM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona) – £40.5m
Transfer fee: £121.5m
Market value at the time of deal: £81m
CM: Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United) – £31.5m
Transfer fee: £94.5m
Market value at the time of deal: £63m
CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg to Manchester City) – £27.9m
Transfer fee: £68.4m
Market value at the time of deal: £40.5m
LW: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City) – £47.25 million
Transfer fee: £105.75m
Market value at the time of deal: £58.5m
RW: Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona) – £91.8m
Transfer fee: £121.50m
Market value at the time of deal: £29.7m
CF: Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain) – £109.8m
Transfer fee: £199.8m
Market value at the time of deal: £90m
CF: Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain) – £54m
Transfer fee: £162m
Market value at the time of deal: £108m
Eyebrows were raised when Man City smashed the British transfer record to sign Grealish last summer. In his first season at the Etihad, the Englishman struggled to justify his lofty £105.75m price tag. Realistically, his form was even a fair way short of his £58.5m market value from last August.
City have gambled big in the past and succeeded, though, with both Laporte and De Bruyne becoming key men in Pep Guardiola’s side.
Liverpool’s Van Dijk is another example of a major investment paying off in a handsome fashion. However, for every success there seem to be many more failures.
Man United broke the bank to sign Pogba for £31.5m over his market value in 2016 – and soon regretted it. The controversial Frenchman walked away from Old Trafford at the end of his contract for absolutely nothing last month. Few were sorry to see him go.
That hasn’t been the Red Devils’ only transfer gaffe, either. The club splashing out £78.3m on Maguire in 2019 seemed excessive from the outset, with the former Leicester man doing little to change that narrative with his performances over the past three years.
Elsewhere, it’s no secret that PSG have spent a frightening amount of money on players in hopes of bringing the Champions League back to the French capital. It hasn’t happened yet and the club are reportedly willing to cut ties with £199.8m man Neymar this summer.
The worst business in this XI, though, has to be Barcelona paying a staggering £91.8m over the odds for Dembele – a player they are now desperate to simply get off the wage bill at Camp Nou. It’s no wonder that the Catalan club is in financial disarray after signing off on deals such as this.
The most overpriced XI in football history
Virgil van Dijk quiz: How well do you know the Liverpool superstar?
Raphinha to Chelsea latest | Via The Football Terrace