Modern football demands that a huge amount of money is spent by clubs on youth recruitment and player transfers in the hope that their investments will propel them to domestic and continental glory.
In many instances clubs manage to hold on to their star youngsters like Manchester United's Class of 92', but in some cases those players are sniped by bigger clubs or sometimes youngsters simply slip through the net and their potential is only realized later in their careers.
Everton full-back Leighton Baines is an excellent example after he had an unsuccessful trial with Everton in his youth before becoming one of their best ever left-backs after a £6 million deal in 2007.
Some clubs just decide to cash-in on in-demand players then realize they were a key component of the team after their departure.
Players returning to clubs is not a rare phenomena, think the likes of Thierry Henry, Kaka, Didier Drogba, Carlos Tevez, etc. but players returning for a higher transfer fee is a little more unusual so we've complied a list of players who fit that criteria...
*All transfer figures taken from transfermarkt.co.uk.
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15 Don Hutchison
The much-travelled former Scottish international midfielder was first signed by Harry Redknapp’s West Ham United from Liverpool in 1994 for a fee of £1.5 million. Hutchison’s first stint at West Ham was blighted by disciplinary problems, so he was sold to Sheffield United for £1.26 million just a year-and-a-half later.
After successful periods at Sheffield United and then Everton and Sunderland, Hutchison was re-signed by West Ham United for a club record £5.25 million.
Unfortunately for the midfielder, he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury around six months after re-joining the club and was unable to recover fully. He dropped down the leagues in the twilight of his career playing for Millwall, Coventry City and Luton Town before retiring in 2008.
14 Jermain Defoe
West Ham United product Jermain Defoe has had quite an interesting career in terms of transfers since making his professional debut in September 2000.
After several impressive years with West Ham, Spurs paid £7.35 million for his services in 2004. Defoe had a decent record of 61 goals in 170 appearances in his first spell for the north London club before moving on to Portsmouth for £6.51 million in January 2008.
Defoe played just 36 games for the Fratton Park club before returning to Tottenham for £11.48 million - more than double for what they initially sold him for.
13 Peter Beardsley
Peter Beardsley began his footballing career in the youth ranks of Newcastle United before being released on a free as a teenager. The forward then went to Carlisle United and Canadian outfit Vancouver Whitecaps before being re-signed by Newcastle in 1983 for £150,000.
Beardsley stayed with the club for four years before stints in the North-West with both Liverpool and Everton.
After a successful period with Liverpool where he won the League twice and FA Cup, Beardsley once again headed north to join former team-mate Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United. The England playmaker re-signed for The Toon in 1993 in a £1.2 million deal.
12 Steven Pienaar
Former South Africa captain Steven Pienaar started his career with Ajax Cape Town before moving from the satellite club to Ajax Amsterdam as an 18-year old. The midfielder stayed with the Dutch club for five years before moving on to Borussia Dortmund and Everton respectively.
Pienaar signed for Everton on a permanent deal after an initial loan spell which cost the club a total of just under £2.5 million. After playing for Everton for three-and-a-half seasons, the South African headed to Tottenham in a deal of around £2.5 million after refusing to sign a new contract with the Goodison club.
After failing to break into the first-team at Spurs, Pienaar returned to Everton on loan in January 2012 and completed a £4.03 million transfer in the summer of the same year.
11 Marco Reus
Attacking midfielder Marco Reus started his career in the Borussia Dortmund youth ranks, where he spent a decade from 1996-2006, before moving to Rot Weiss Ahlen.
Initially the German played for the club’s second string before making the step up to the first-team that were playing in the German Third Division at the time. Reus’ performances for Rot Weiss Ahlen were good enough to earn him a move to Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2009.
Reus spent three seasons with The Foals before returning to boyhood club Dortmund in 2012. The transfer fee of around £12 million seemed steep but the attacker has gone on to score a goal every two games for the club and according to transfermarkt has raised his transfer value to around £32 million.
10 Steve Claridge
English journeyman striker Steve Claridge's playing career spanned 24 different clubs over a 27-year period in a journey that saw him play at all levels from semi-professional to the Premier League.
By the time the striker signed with Cambridge United in 1990 for £81,000, Claridge had already played for five different clubs but stayed with his new club for the majority of the next few years albeit with a brief stint at Luton Town.
Luton signed the player in March 1992 for £168,000 after the striker had fallen out with his manager, only to see his old club re-sign him just five months later for £196,000 after Luton started to experience financial difficulties.
After leaving Cambridge, Claridge went on to play for numerous clubs with a stint in the Premier League with Leicester City and played his 1000th career game for Bournemouth in December 2006.
9 Younès Kaboul
French international defender Younès Kaboul signed for Tottenham Hotspur from Auxerre for £8 million in 2007. At the time, Kaboul was the French Under-21 captain and moved to England with a great deal of potential.
After just one season in north-London, Kaboul was sold to Portsmouth but re-joined Spurs just a year-and-a-half later in a £9.5 million transfer in 2010.
Kaboul stayed at White Hart Lane for the next four years before making a switch to the Stadium of Light with Sunderland at the start of this season and has so far played nice games for his new club.
8 Graeme Le Saux
Former England left-back Graeme Le Saux started his career with Chelsea before being sold to Blackburn Rovers for a fee of £700,000. Despite establishing himself in the Chelsea first team, the youngster was let go after throwing his shirt to the floor in what he perceived as unfair treatment when being substituted off several games in succession.
After joining Blackburn, Le Saux and his new team-mates finished second in his first season then went on to win the championship in his second year. Alan Shearer fired Blackburn to the championship with 34 goals in a season where they finished just one point ahead of Manchester United.
Le Saux was re-signed by Chelsea in a £7.35 million deal that saw him become the most expensive defender in English in 1997.
7 Martin Keown
The former England centre-back started his career in the youth ranks of Arsenal after signing with the north London club on schoolboy terms in 1980. Keown made his debut for the Gunners in 1985 and played in 22 league games before being sold to Aston Villa for £210,000 in 1986.
Keown spent time with Villa and Everton before returning to Highbury in 1993 for a fee of £2.1 million.
During his second spell with Arsenal which lasted 12 years, the uncompromising defender lifted the Premier League on three occasions and the FA Cup twice before winding his career down with Leicester City and Reading.
6 Peter Crouch
The 6'7" Peter Crouch has returned to clubs for higher transfer fees on two separate occasions.
The former England striker started his career at Tottenham Hotspur before being sold to QPR. Crouch made a good impression with the club and made a move to the south coast with Portsmouth in a £1.58 million deal.
Portsmouth sold the player for £5.25 million to Aston Villa in 2002 before Harry Redknapp re-signed him for Pompey six years later for £9.59 million rising to £11 million based on performances.
Once Redknapp left the club and joined Tottenham, he re-signed the player who had started his career at the club for a fee in the region of £7 million.
5 Gary Pallister
Manchester United legend Gary Pallister was signed from boyhood club Middlesbrough in a £1.82 million deal in 1989. At United, the central-defender forged a formidable partnership with Steve Bruce that forged the backbone of the hugely successful championship winning teams of the 1990s.
During his time at Old Trafford, Pallister won ten major honors including both domestic and European trophies before returning to Middlesbrough in the summer of 1998 for £1.96 million.
Pallister continued to play for a further three years before calling time on his career due to a succession of injuries in 2001.
4 Stefan Effenberg
Stefan Effenberg, who is currently undertaking his first steps into management with SC Paderborn, had two separate spells with Bayern Munich in the 1990s.
The former German international midfielder signed with the Bavaria club from Borussia Mönchengladbach before being sold to Fiorentina for £2.63 million in 1992.
Unfortunately for the German, Fiorentina were relegated and so he returned to Mönchengladbach before being re-signed by Bayern Munich for £2.98 million in 1998.
His second spell was much more successful than the first with Bayern, as they dominated domestically and reached two Champions League finals. The first, in 1999 was lost to Manchester United, but Effenberg captained the Bavarians to glory in the 2001 tournament against Valencia.
3 Nemanja Matić
Nemanja Matić first signed for Chelsea from Slovakian club Košice in in £1.23 million deal in 2009. However, the player only managed to make three appearances before a loan spell with Vitesse Arnhem in Holland.
The midfielder was then sold to Benfica as part of the deal that brought David Luiz to Stamford Bridge. After three years in Portgual and a conversion of position to holding midfielder, Matić returned to England.
Returning Chelsea manager José Mourinho had identified the player as a key transfer target and re-signed the Serb in January 2014 for a fee of £17.5 million.
2 Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka started his professional career with Paris Saint-Germain before agreeing to join newly-appoint Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in the English capital. Arsenal paid just £532,000 for the 17-year-old who would go on to become a hugely important player for the club.
Le Sulk, as he became known, left London for Real Madrid in 1999 in a £24.5 million deal after winning the League and Cup with the Gunners in the 1997–98 season.
After failing to settle and experiencing disciplinary problems in Madrid, Anelka was off-loaded to the club he had left just three-and-a-half years prior for £24.15 million.
1 Cesc Fàbregas
Cesc Fàbregas was a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy after signing with them as a 10-year old before signing with Premier League club Arsenal in 2003.
On joining the English club, it took Fabergas just over a month to make his first-team debut in the League Cup against Rotherham United.
After over 300 games and captaining the North London club for just shy of three years, Fàbregas re-joined his boyhood club in August 2011 after stating that it was his dream to one day return to the Nou Camp.
The Catalonians paid Arsenal £23.8m for the midfielder plus add-ons based on performance, with the player contributing £880,000 from his salary each year of the initial contract.
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