On September 1, the curtain will fall on the summer transfer window before the upcoming season begins. It has been an eventful window that started with a neck-to-neck tussle between Real Madrid and PSG for Kylian Mbappe, and gained pace after Manchester City and Liverpool upped the ante by breaking the bank on Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez respectively. With just over two days remaining, the headline is dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo, who is desperate to leave his club Manchester United, but is not getting the buyers of his choice – clubs which plays Champion League.
On average, more than 10,000 transfers happen every year at the professional level in Europe alone. But there are certain limits to the human brain, and only the big signings by big clubs get etched in the public imagination. Mostly, these are generational talents playing far away from the glam of the biggest leagues in the world but are more than capable of replicating their feat at any stage. They are chased by a coterie of premium clubs competing with each other. This is how the business model works for them. But for those on the slightly lower rungs, the main source of income is their robust academy, where they develop players for years before selling at hefty prices.
Let’s take a look at nine such clubs that generated a record profit in the last decade by selling promising talents to Europe’s powerhouses.
Since 2010/11, the Portuguese club Benfica has earned a whopping total of €690 million by selling players. They sold the young striker Darwin Nunez to Liverpool for €75.00m in the current transfer window. Their most expensive departure in the last decade was Jaao Felix, for whom Atletico Madrid paid €127.20m. They made over €100 million by selling Ederson and Ruben Dias To Manchester City.
Just like their arch-rival Benfica, Porto is one of the most consistent talent feeders to the top European clubs. In the last few seasons, they’ve sold Eder Militao to Real Madrid for €50m, Luis Diaz to Liverpool for €67m and most recently, Fabio Viera to Arsenal for £34.2m. In 2013/14, they got an eye-watering sum of €90m from the sale of James Rodriguez to Real Madrid.
Ajax has made generated a profit of over €402 million in the last decade. Reaching the semi-final of the Champions League in 2019/20 helped them offload two of their biggest players, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt for a combined total of a whopping €200m.
Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal for €79m remains the most expensive departure from LOSC Lille to date. Almost a decade ago, they got €35m for Eden Hazard. They have also generated huge profits through the sale of Rafael Leao, Lucas Digne, Adama Traore, and Victor Osimhen.
It was at Red Bull Salzburg where Erling Haaland first rose to prominence, and attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs before shifting to Borussia Dortmund. In the last few years, they have become a talent powerhouse, and their biggest players often join their sister club, RB Leipzig, in Germany.
Bruno Fernandes, Nuno Mendes, Joao Moutinho, Rafinha, and Rui Patricio are some of the prominent names who took flight to greener pasture from Sporting CP. While not as big as Porto or Benfica, they still have recorded a healthy profit of €261 million in the transfer window in this decade.
Udinese is the sole Italian club on the list, recording a profit of €247 million in the last decade. Rodrigo de Paul to Atletico Madrid at €35 million remains their most expensive departure, followed by Marcio Amorosso, Alex Meret, and Alexis Sanchez.
Olympique De Lyon is placed eighth on the list, with a net income of €243 million in the transfer window. They sold Tanguy Ndombele to Tottenham for €61 million, Alexandre Lacazette to Arsenal for €60 million, and Ferland Mendy to Manchester City for €48 million.
In 2013/14, Santos FC sold their homegrown talent Neymar to Barcelona for €57.1 million. They are the only club outside Europe to be ranked inside the top ten. They also made a good profit through the sale of Rodrygo, Gabriel Barbosa, and Thiago Maia.
Featured Image Credit: Manchester City