World Football Transfers: Top 10 Transfer Deals of All Time

Stefan GouyetAnalyst IJune 12, 2011

World Football Transfers: Top 10 Transfer Deals of All Time

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 03:  Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid strikes a free kick to hit the goal post backdropped by his teammate Cristiano Ronaldo during the la Liga match between Real Madrid and Malaga at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 3, 2011 in Madrid, Sp
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    There is always a lot of talk concerning soccer players who fail to live up to expectations. Unfortunately, the players who exceed presumption don't always receive the credit that they warrant.

    Some of these players aren't extremely good, but the transfer fee placed on them makes the deal a superb bargain. 

    Here's a list of players who were sold for too little and exceeded expectations. 

Honorable Mentions

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    8 Nov 1998:  Roy Keane of Manchester United in action against Alan Shearer of Newcastle United during the FA Carling Premiership match against Newcastle United played at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.  The match finished in a 0-0 draw. \ Mandatory C
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Honorable Mentions:

    Kaká- From: Sao Paulo To: AC Milan Price: $12.2 million

    Eric Cantona- From: Leeds To: Manchester United Price: $2 million

    Alan Shearer- From: Southampton To: Blackburn Rovers Price: $5.3 million

    Thierry Henry- From: Juventus To: Arsenal Price: $18 million

Mesut Ozil

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid goes to take a corner kick  during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and UD Almeria at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 21, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    From: Werder Bremen 

    To: Real Madrid

    Date: Aug. 7, 2010

    Cost: $22 million

    After Ozil's superb showings in the 2010 World Cup, the German man secured a move to Real Madrid. Most people weren't completely certain that he would be a success. He was relatively unknown as he had just emerged in South Africa a few months earlier. The people who doubted him were blown away.

    In his debut season, Ozil, in 53 total appearances, assisted 25 and scored 10. He was one behind Lionel Messi in La Liga's top assisters.

    Ozil has only played one season, and he has certainly justified the $22 million that Real spent for him. But the German now has to show that he can maintain his superb form.

Dennis Bergkamp

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    LONDON - JULY 22:  Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Dennis Bergkamp testimonial match between Arsenal and Ajax at the Emirates Stadium on July 22, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    From: Inter Milan 

    To: Arsenal

    Date: June 20, 1995

    Cost: $12 million

    After two unsuccessful seasons in Italy, Bergkamp moved to London to play for Bruce Rioch's Arsenal. His first seasons were good, but it was Arsene Wenger's arrival in summer 1996 that triggered Bergkamp's emergence as a superb player.

    The Dutchman was PFA Player of The Year in 1998, after helping the Gunners win the Double. Arsenal's next piece of silverware came in 2002 with another EPL and FA Cup Double. Bergkamp would end his career with Arsenal in 2009 with four FA Cup titles and three Premier League trophies. 

    Bergkamp scored 104 goals in 11 seasons at the Gunners. He was never able to break the 20-goal barrier in the EPL but is still one of the greatest strikers ever. And Arsenal just had to pay $12 million for the Dutchman. 

Gianfranco Zola

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    SUNDERLAND -  APRIL 5:  Gianfranco Zola of Chelsea celebrates scoring the equalising goal during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Sunderland and Chelsea held on April 5, 2003 at the Stadium of Light, in Sunderland, England. Chelsea won the mat
    Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

    From: Parma 

    To: Chelsea

    Date: November 1996

    Cost: $7.3 million

    Signed in 1996 from Parma, Zola quickly made an impact on Chelsea. He helped Chelsea secure the FA Cup in his first season and was the first ever Chelsea player to receive the FWA (Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year) award.

    He also scored the winning goal in the Cup Winner's Cup a year later. Zola, as an attacking midfielder, scored a total of 80 goals in seven years at the Blues. 

    You don't usually hear nowadays that Chelsea got a bargain for a player, but they certainly did with Gianfranco Zola. He helped Chelsea start winning some trophies, which wasn't very common before the Roman Abramovich era. His contribution on Chelsea was worth a lot more than $7.3 million.


Nicolas Anelka

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    24 Jan 1999:  Nicolas Anelka of Arsenal in action during the AXA FA Cup 4th Round match against Wolverhampton Wanderers played at Molineux in Wolverhampton, England.  The match finished in a 1-2 win for Arsenal. \ Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths /All
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    From: Paris Saint-Germain 

    To: Arsenal

    Date: February 1997

    Cost: $811,400

    Anelka's performances at Arsenal are not what makes this deal so great. Two years after Anelka's transfer to the Gunners, Real Madrid purchased the Frenchman for $36.2 million. Anelka scored 27 goals in three seasons for Arsenal, and Madrid wanted to pay such a huge sum for him! 

    Arsene Wenger is superb with French players. It was a little different with Anelka though as the Frenchman never had the best of relationships with the Arsenal community. Still, Arsenal made a huge profit off Anelka in just three seasons.

Javier Hernandez

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Javier Hernandez of Manchester United shows his dejection after the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Gett
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    From: Guadalajara 

    To: Manchester United

    Date: April 8, 2010

    Cost: Up To $16 million

    Manchester United were extremely smart in purchasing Hernandez before the 2010 World Cup. In South Africa, he scored a crucial goal against France, in a game in which he was Man of The Match. In the Round of 16, he scored a consolation goal against Argentina.

    Many big European clubs watched the Mexican's performances in awe, but Manchester United had already signed him. Hernandez's 2010/2011 campaign was superb. He scored 20 total goals, making him the first player since Ruud Van Nistlerooy (2001/2002) to score 20-plus goals in his first season at Manchester United. 

    Hernandez, like Ozil, was only signed one year ago, so it may be too early to tell if this deal was a bargain. If the Mexican striker can emulate this last season, then he may become the next Cristiano Ronaldo-type deal for Manchester United.

Emmanuel Adebayor

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    VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 07:  Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Villarreal and Arsenal at the Madrigal Stadium on April 7, 2009 in Villarreal, Spai
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    From: Monaco 

    To: Arsenal

    Date: January 13, 2006

    Cost: $5 million

    $5 million for 62 goals and 21 assists is a superb deal. Emmanuel Adebayor played for Monaco when they reached the Champions League Final. They decided to sell the Togo striker...for $5 million.

    No matter how much Arsenal fans hate Adebayor right now after the striker's transfer to Manchester City (for various reasons, including his celebration in front of the Arsenal fans), he was an incredibly good deal for the Gunners.  

Wesley Sneijder

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    ROME, ITALY - MAY 29:  Wesley Sneijder of FC Internazionale Milano celebrates after the goal scored by Samuel Eto'o during the Tim Cup final between FC Internazionale Milano and US Citta di Palermo at Olimpico Stadium on May 29, 2011 in Rome, Italy.  (Pho
    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    From: Real Madrid 

    To: Inter Milan

    Date: Aug. 27, 2009

    Cost: $22 million

    In 2007, Madrid signed Sneijder from Ajax for almost $40 million. Like many players at Real, Sneijder failed to completely establish himself. Just two years later, the Dutch playmaker moved to Inter Milan for just $22 million.

    Since then, he has been outstanding. 2010 was an especially incredible year for Sneijder. In May, Inter Milan won the Serie A and the Copa Italia. After that, the team completed an amazing treble by winning the 2009/2010 Champions League. Just one month later, Sneijder was pivotal in helping Netherlands reaching the World Cup Final. All of that for just $20 million!

    Inter Milan already got more than their money's worth out of Sneijder, in just two years. The Italian club will have a big decision to make this summer. They can choose to sell the playmaker this summer and receive a huge sum, or they can keep him.

    No matter what the decision is, this may have been one of the best transfer bargains ever.

Robin Van Persie

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 02:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates Stadium on April 2, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    From: Feyenoord 

    To: Arsenal

    Date: May 17, 2004

    Cost: $4.5 million

    Arsenal purchased van Persie in 2004 from Feyenoord and didn't match the Dutch club's valuation of the striker. Feyenoord wanted around $7 million but agreed to $4.5. They will now be kicking themselves for allowing RVP to move for such a low fee.

    In 230 total appearances for Arsenal, van Persie has scored 95 and has assisted 53. In particular, his form in 2011 has been superb. After injuries kept him out for most of the first half of the season, RVP was on fire for the second half.

    Since the turn of the year, RVP scored 18 league goals, only two behind the leaders Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov (tied at 20).

    Van Persie isn't the most consistent of players, but he was nonetheless a superb buy for the Gunners.  

Patrick Vieira

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    LONDON ENGLAND, JANUARY 29. Patrick Vieira of Arsenal in action during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Highbury on January 29, 2005 in London, England.
    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    From: AC Milan 

    To: Arsenal

    Date: Aug.14, 1996

    Cost: $5.7 million

    After a very unproductive season at AC Milan, Arsenal signed Patrick Vieira for just under $6 million. At 6'3" and 182 pounds, Vieira quickly adapted to the physicality of the English Premier League.

    In 1998, Vieira's partnership with compatriot Emmanuel Petit helped Arsenal win the Double (FA Cup and EPL). In 2002, Vieira was club captain and was crucial in the Gunner's EPL successes in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004, as well as their FA Cup triumphs in 2001/2002, 2002/2003 and 2004/2005.

    Vieira played as starting center midfielder for the Gunners for about nine years. He only scored 32 goals, but his contribution to Arsenal was outstanding. All that for just $5.7 million.   

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    ROME, ITALY - MAY 27:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Barcelona and Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico on May 27, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    From: Sporting Lisbon 

    To: Manchester United

    Date: Aug. 12, 2003

    Cost: $20 million

    I wonder what Sporting Lisbon were thinking when Ronaldo moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid for $130 million. United not only had Ronaldo on their team for six seasons in which he scored a total of 118 goals, but they also obtained a profit of $110 million in just six years.

    Some Manchester United fans may still be angry that Alex Ferguson let the Portuguese striker leave the club, but it was probably a good idea. United weren't sure that Ronaldo would keep his form going and $130 million was just a sum too high to decline. 

    Ronaldo's 42 goals in the 2007/2008 campaign just showed how superb this deal was. He was extremely important in Manchester United's EPL title successes. When Ronaldo left the English club, United weren't the same, and they gave up the title to Chelsea that following year.

    Still, $110 million of profit in just six years probably makes up for that one title loss.

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