As the richest football league in the world, the Premier League and its clubs are not used to selling their biggest stars.
Oscar’s recently announced £60 million move to the Chinese Super League is a rare case of a star player leaving the Premier League for (literally) greener pastures. In fact, only six of the 50 biggest transfers ever involve an English team selling to an overseas rival.
Here are the 10 biggest sales in the history of the EPL.
10. Arjen Robben – Chelsea to Real Madrid (2007) £24 million
Robben still had hair when he made the jump to Real as a 23-year-old, already having won two Premier League titles with the Blues. But despite growing into one of Real’s most important players, Robben was forced out just two years later after incoming president Florentino Perez made deals for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. The Dutchman, though, landed on his feet at Bayern Munich, where he has gone on to achieve great success.
9. David Beckham – Man United to Real Madrid (2003) £25 million
Golden Balls the Galactico.
Beckham played one of his final (and most memorable) games for United in a Champions League thriller against Real, and weeks later became Madrid’s only transfer that summer. Becks was the last piece to the original “Galacticos” side, which already had Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Raul. But that team failed to win a single trophy together, and Beckham only managed one La Liga title with Real before leaving for the LA Galaxy and MLS.
8. Marc Overmars – Arsenal to Barcelona (2000) £25 million
Only Luis Figo, Hernan Crespo and Christian Vieri had demanded a larger transfer fee at the time than Overmars, who won the double with Arsenal in 1998. The modern, speedy Dutch winger won no titles at Barcelona, however, and lasted just four seasons at the Camp Nou before a nagging knee injury forced him to retire.
7. Xabi Alonso – Liverpool to Real Madrid (2009) £30 million
Alonso was part of Liverpool’s most successful team of the new millennium, helping lead the Reds to the Champions League title in 2005 and the FA Cup a year later. Real then swooped for the graceful midfielder, who added a second Champions League title to his resume as well as one La Liga and two Copa del Rey titles.
6. Angel Di Maria – Man United to Paris Saint-Germain (2015) £44 million
Hurry up, Angel! Your plane to Paris is waiting.
United made Di Maria the most expensive Premier League import of all time (a record later broken by Paul Pogba) in 2014, paying Real Madrid £59 million for his services. But Di Maria turned out to be arguably the biggest transfer flop ever, and just one season later United unloaded the Argentine to PSG for a net loss of “only” £15 million.
5. David Luiz – Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain (2014) £50 million
PSG made Luiz the most expensive defender ever (at the time), after the Brazilian had won a Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup title in three years. Luiz faced Chelsea in each of the past two seasons in the Champions League, which must have brought back some old feelings for the Blues, because they brought him back for £34 million on deadline day this past summer.
4. Oscar – Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG (2017) £60 million
Oscar is set to become the biggest star going to the Chinese Super League once the January transfer window opens. The Brazilian playmaker had fallen out of favour with new Blues manager Antonio Conte, but did win a Premier League title and the Europa League in four-and-a-half seasons at Stamford Bridge.
3. Luis Suarez – Liverpool to Barcelona (2014) £75 million
Liverpool’s attack lost its bite after Suarez left.
After Suarez decimated the Premier League with 31 goals in the 2013/14 season, winning the Golden Boot by an insane 10 goals, he joined up with Lionel Messi and Neymar to form arguably the most lethal attacking trio in the history of the sport. The result: a historic quintuple in their first season together and a domestic treble in 2016.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Man United to Real Madrid (2009) £80 million
On the heels of winning the Premier League title and the 2008 Ballon d’Or with United, Ronaldo made the inevitable world record move to Real to form the second-generation “Galacticos,” along with fellow imports Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema. A record 80,000 fans showed up to CR7’s presentation, and he’s been worth every penny, becoming Real’s top scorer in only seven years.
1. Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (2013) £86 million
You are worth more than me?
After one of the most memorable transfer sagas of all time, Real made Bale the most expensive player ever, besting Ronaldo’s previous record before Paul Pogba broke it again in 2016. Bale has won two Champions League titles and a Copa del Rey since his move to the Bernabeu.