Five football transfers in which money talked more than anything else

As Rafa Benitez joins Dalian Yifang for purely footballing reasons, we look back at some of the greatest sell out moves in football history.

Neymar PSG


Believe it or not, some people are suggesting that Rafa Benitez’s decision to sign a contract with Chinese side Dalian Yifang may be financially motivated.

While we can be sure that Rafa has actually been a lifelong Dalian Yifang fan and used to dream of managing them as a young boy with posters of the side on the walls of his bedroom, some cynics may suggest that what really endeared the club to him is the many suitcases full of cold, hard cash that he will receive for his work.

Football fans could be accused of setting unfair standards of loyalty when it comes to players and managers. After all, who who wouldn’t immediately quit their current job if they were offered 10 times as much money somewhere else?

But in football there will always be a stigma attached to choosing a pay packet over grafting away for a club close to your heart, and a host of players and managers have committed the cardinal sin of putting money first over the years.

Luiz Felipe Scolari – Bunyodkor

When you’ve won the World Cup with Brazil, more or less any other job you take is going to feel like a bit of an anti-climax.

But if there’s one thing Big Phil likes, it’s managing football teams. That and a carefully curated moustache that makes him look like a 1980s TV detective.

After winning football’s greatest prize with Brazil, Scolari moved on to Portugal and then Chelsea, all of which made sense, but the next move to FC Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan raised a few more eyebrows.

Scolari was full of praise for ‘the project’ but it’s safe to say that the €13 million per year pay packet probably made him view ‘the project’ through rose-tinted, and probably gold-plated, glasses. It made him the world’s highest paid coach at the time.

Amazingly, Scolari didn’t take to life in Uzbekistan but he did manage to put the all-important Uzbekistan Super League title of 2009 on his CV, which was a glaring gap.

Chris Waddle – Marseille

The Geordie winger had become a hero at Spurs and was a key part of the side that finished third in the league in 1987, way before that was something Spurs used to do.

As an England regular excelling on home soil, Waddle’s career was clearly booming when he bravely decided to trade in Tottenham for Marseille.

Most people would have presumed the transfer was motivated by a need to leave the country after releasing ‘Diamond Lights’ with Glenn Hoddle and the inevitable piss taking that would follow, but Waddle quashed those rumours by effectively telling everyone he had in fact moved for the money.

“I had to accept the move,” he said. “Because of what it offered my family for the future.”

To be fair, he wasn’t exactly going to retire off the royalties from ‘Diamond Lights’ was he?

Oscar – Shanghai SIPG

Oscar was at the top of his game in January 2017 when he decided it was time to move on from Chelsea. He could’ve joined Atletico Madrid or Juventus, but he instead opted for Shanghai SIPG, leading to a huge increase in the number of people Googling ‘Shanghai SIPG’.

Aghast journalists, fans and football purists demanded to know the player’s rationale, but it soon emerged that he’d been given around 21 million reasons per year.

At the time Oscar and many others boldly predicted that Chinese football was on the up and that before long all the kids kicking a ball around in the school playground in Leeds would be wearing Shanghai Shenhua and Guangzhou Evergrande shirts.

Oscar’s enjoyed success in China but has had to deal with often being left out of the Brazilian national set-up because everyone in Brazil has presumed he must have died.

In fairness, the insane mass brawl that he managed to start against Guangzhou was worth his wages alone.

Neymar – PSG

When Neymar signed his record-breaking £198 million deal with PSG in 2017, he repeatedly stressed that money was never his motivation. In fact, he stressed that he was ‘offended’ that anyone would think that a £520,000 per-week contract offer would influence his decision making.

The move, Neymar revealed, was all about the challenge. Presumably he meant the challenge of keeping a straight face while he delivered that little spiel.

However, it seems that PSG’s challenge hasn’t quite lived up to expectations and there’s increasing speculation that Neymar will be looking for a new challenge this summer, a nice seven-figure challenge.

Alf Common – Middlesbrough

When the centre forward moved between rivals Sunderland and Middlesbrough in 1905 for an unheard of ‘four-figure’ fee, it rocked the football world.

The fee of £1,000 is pretty much what it costs now to travel between the two places on a train, but at the time it caused anger amongst the football community who felt that the game had gone. There were even discussions in the House of Commons about whether the transfer would have ramifications for the sport.

Common was brought in to keep struggling Boro up and netted on his debut before leading them to survival. He ended up scoring 58 goals in 168 league matches, which is not a bad return on the investment.

However, the club made a net loss of a crushing £1,035 that year and it became clear that they had spent recklessly. So in many ways Neymar owes his fortune to a trend that Middlesbrough set in motion.

Neymar is 8/11 to sign for Barcelona before 9 August 2019

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