Man Utd have two men on this list but Chelsea are the kings of overpaying – with four overspends coming under Todd Boehly.
This is not about judging the players’ performances, but how much their transfer fee outweighed their value at the time, as decreed by transfermarkt. Their valuations are clearly on the low side but you still get a decent idea of the players who went for massive fees for reasons beyond their qualifications.
10) Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United, 2019)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £43m
It looked stupid money at the time and it looks really stupid money four years later. And Manchester United now appear to be stuck with him despite his price tag dropping beyond the kind of fee they should have paid in 2019.
9) Marc Cucurella (Brighton to Chelsea, 2022)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £24m
Brighton can pretty much name their price when it comes to player sales (unless it’s Alexis Mac Allister and he has just won the World Cup and had a clause inserted into his contract) and they absolutely saw Chelsea coming when it came to the Spanish one-cap man. He has looked entirely out of his depth at Chelsea whether playing at left-back, left wing-back or left-sided centre-back. Like with the overpriced man above, Manchester City rather cleverly helped drive up the price before dropping out of the race.
8) Alexander Isak (Real Socieded to Newcastle United, 2022)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £25.78m
It’s fair to say that was a grand old whack of money after a six-goal La Liga season but it was still quite a bit short of the buy-out clause in the Swede’s deal so Newcastle could kid themselves they got a bargain. Ten Premier League goals in his first Newcastle season looks better with the caveat of an extended spell on the sidelines but there’s still little to suggest – even after two goals v Aston Villa on the opening day of 2022/23 – he was worth that club-record fee.
7) Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, 2018)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £21.4m
The price – a club-record deal – was determined by a buy-out clause and Manchester City obviously decided that they needed to make that investment (after backing out of the Virgil van Dijk race) at a time when Nicolas Otamendi was seen as their only really reliable centre-half. Laporte was likely undervalued because he was uncapped. After starting only 11 Premier League games last season, he is now in Saudi Arabia.
6) Wesley Fofana (Leicester City to Chelsea, 2022)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £34.3m
It took three rejected Chelsea bids – worth £50m, £60m and finally £70m with add-ons included – before Leicester finally caved and accepted up to £75m for a defender with 57 top-flight career league appearances. You will gather by now that a) transfermarkt undervalue defenders but also that b) Leicester City used to own all of the cards.
5) Moises Caicedo (Brighton to Chelsea, 2023)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £64.3m
Did they overpay? Absolutely. Did they have little choice because Brighton had them over a barrel? Oh God yes. As soon as Chelsea paid that amount of money for the man at the top/bottom of this list, and Arsenal almost matched it for Declan Rice, the Caicedo price was set. Not yet a British record but it should be (the add-ons will take it to £115m) if he is in any way successful.
4) Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, 2021)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £55.86m
The price was the price was the price – set in Jack Grealish’s Aston Villa contract. Was it too much at the time for what Grealish had actually achieved? Probably yes. Does it still look too much with a Treble in the bag? It’s borderline. There’s no doubt that he struggled under the weight of being British football’s most expensive footballer and was probably glad to hand on that particular baton to the man at the top/bottom of this list.
3) Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, 2018)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £25.8m
While clearly that was a ludicrous valuation, Liverpool paid a January tax on Van Dijk because they had overstepped the mark in the summer when they had pursued him in a £60m deal. Obviously the word-record (for a defender) fee has been more than justified since, but it was still an eyewatering sum of money for a player yet to play at an elite level. And it opened the door for Leicester to name their price for their own centre-halves.
2) Antony (Ajax to Manchester United, 2022)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £30m
Ajax declared him untransferable early in the summer window and thought a £68m price tag would put off Manchester United and their former boss Erik ten Hag. So what did Manchester United do? They started the season disastrously and panicked into paying £80m-plus for the tricky winger.
1) Enzo Fernandez (Benfica to Chelsea, 2023)
Transfermarkt valuation at the time: £47.2m
A combination of January, Chelsea being giddy, a World Cup medal/Golden Boy trophy and a ridiculous buy-out clause for a player bought just £12m a few months before made this not only a British transfer record but the biggest Premier League overpay of all time. He has looked okay in a Chelsea shirt but not yet £106.8m okay; is that even possible?
In case you’re interested, Neymar and Ousmane Dembele are the only players across Europe whose ‘value’ was blown out of the water by their transfer fee to an even greater extent.
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