Top 15 Footballers Who Returned To Their Club For A Higher Cost

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Top 15 Footballers Who Returned To Their Club For A Higher Cost