The 50 players with the most expensive market values on the day they retired

Portuguese forward Luis Figo (L) control

Deciding when to retire is one of the toughest decisions that a footballer has to make.

Recognising when the time has come to hang up the boots isn’t easy. If they could, most of them would play on forever.

Sometimes the decision will be taken out of their hands. For example, a club may decide to release them during the latter stages of their career or, if they’re really unfortunate, they suffer a career-ending injury. But a lot of players have to make the decision themselves.

Some players retire and you can’t help by think: ‘they retired too early’. Others, though, make you think ‘it’s about time they called it a day’.

There’s an interesting section on Transfermarkt.com’s website which shows the most expensive players (based on market value) on the day they retired. You could say that the players on this list all retired slightly before their time - whether they wanted to or not.

50. Xabi Prieto | 2018, aged 34

Market value on day of retirement: £2.7 million

A one-club man, the Spanish midfielder spent his entire professional career with Real Sociedad.

49. Wesley Sneijder | 2019, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £2.7 million

Sneijder scored 18 goals in 29 appearances for his final club, Al-Gharafa, but he decided that enough was enough earlier this year.

Netherlands v Peru - International Friendly

48. Héctor Berenguel | 2008, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £2.88 million

Spent his entire career in Spain and ended it with Mallorca in 2008.

47. Christophe Dugarry | 2005, aged 32

Market value on day of retirement: £2.93 million

Part of France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad, the striker was one of Zinedine Zidane’s closest friends in football.

46. Pedro Mendes | 2012, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £3.06 million

The Portuguese midfielder was famously denied a goal at Old Trafford while playing for Tottenham after embarrassing Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll with a long-range effort.

45. Hidetoshi Nakata | 2006, aged 29

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

One of the first stars of Japanese football, Nakata’s decision to retire at the age of 29 came as a shock in 2006.

44. Georgi Kinkladze | 2006, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

The former Manchester City midfielder ended his career with Russian side Rubin Kazan.

43. Rui Costa | 2008, aged 36

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

One of the most talented midfielders of his era.

Benfica's Rui Costa waves to the crowd b

42. Rigobert Song | 2010, aged 34

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

The Cameroonian defender played for both Liverpool and West Ham during his days in England.

41. Roy Makaay | 2010, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

You rarely hear him spoken about these days but Makaay was absolutely deadly in front of goal. Finished the 2002-03 season as La Liga’s top goalscorer (29 goals) while playing for Deportivo.

40. Blaise Nkufo | 2011, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

The Swiss striker retired in 2010 after a brief spell with Seattle Sounders.

39. Miguel | 2012, aged 32

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

A Portuguese wing-back who ended his career in 2012 after seven years at Valencia.

38. Xabi Alonso | 2017, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.15 million

What a class act. Alonso will always be remembered fondly by Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich fans.

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37. Ivan Ergic | 2011, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £3.33 million

Not a player that your average football fan will remember, Ergic spent most of his career with FC Basel before a two-year spell at Bursaspor.

36. Giovanni van Bronckhorst | 2010, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.38 million

Scored one of *the* great World Cup goals in 2010, weeks before he retired, which probably bumped up his market value a tad.

35. Malkhaz Asatiani | 2010, aged 29

Market value on day of retirement: £3.42 million

The versatile Georgia international ended his career with Lokomotiv Moscow.

34. Jose Francisco Molina | 2007, aged 36

Market value on day of retirement: £3.47 million

Goalkeeper who played for several Spanish clubs including Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

33. Ivan Perez | 2005, aged 29

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

Began his career with Real Madrid and retired before his 30th birthday.

32. Flavio Conceicao | 2005, aged 31

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

A decent midfielder who played 44 times for Brazil, Conceicao also spent four years with Real Madrid.

UEFA Champions League - Barcelona v Panathinaikos

31. Juan Sanchez | 2006, aged 34

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

Part of the Valencia squad that won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup in the early 2000s.

30. Johan Micoud | 2008, aged 34

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

A quality attacking midfielder best known for his spells at Werder Bremen and Bordeaux.

29. Darko Kovacevic | 2008, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

Was briefly at Sheffield Wednesday in the mid-90s, Kovacevic went on to play for the likes of Juventus and Lazio.

28. Jorge Andrade | 2009, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

The defender suffered a series of injuries after signing for Juventus in 2007 and only managed to make five appearances for the Old Lady before retiring aged 30.

27. Guti | 2011, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

A somewhat underrated midfielder, Guti had quality in abundance and made over 500 appearances for Real Madrid during a fine career.

Besiktas JK v Antalyaspor - Turkish Spor Toto Super League

26. Stefan Reinartz | 2016, aged 27

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

The Germany international announced his retirement in May 2016 due to injuries.

25. Daniel Agger | 2016, aged 31

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

The former Liverpool defender could have played on for longer but decided to retire after a couple of seasons back at Brondby.

24. Arjen Robben | 2019, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £3.6 million

One of the world’s best players at his peak, Robben enjoyed a brilliant career, playing for the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich while also scoring 37 goals in 96 games for the Netherlands.

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23. Dario Silva | 2006, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £3.83 million

The Uruguayan striker left Portsmouth in 2006 and then suffered a serious car crash months in Montevideo later, tragically losing one of his legs in the process.

22. Miroslaw Szymkowiak | 2007, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £4.03 million

After going through multiple surgeries, the Polish playmaker had had enough. “I feel older than my dad, and in a couple of years time I'd like to walk like a normal person,” he told reporters after announcing his decision to retire.

21. Claus Jensen | 2007, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £4.05 million

An underrated midfielder, Jensen could probably have played for a bigger club than Bolton, Charlton or Fulham in his pomp.

20. Oliver Kahn | 2008, aged 39

Market value on day of retirement: £4.03 million

A legendary goalkeeper, the 2002 World Cup Golden Ball winner was still valued at just over £4 million in 2008, when he was not far off turning 40.

German league and Cup champions Bayern M

19. Pauleta | 2008, aged 35

Market value on day of retirement: £4.28 million

The Portuguese striker was still banging in goals consistently for PSG shortly before he retired, hence the reasonably high market value.

18. Sebastian Deisler | 2007, aged 27

Market value on day of retirement: £4.5 million

The German midfielder retired aged just 27 after a string of knee problems. He also suffered depression throughout his career.

17. Argel | 2007, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £4.5 million

The Brazilian defender with a very rude surname retired in 2007 after a short spell with Chinese club Zhejiang Greentown F.C.

16. Fabrice Muamba | 2012, aged 24

Market value on day of retirement: £4.5 million

Muamba is incredibly lucky to be alive after suffering a cardiac arrest during Bolton’s FA Cup clash against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in 2012. Doctors told the former England Under-21 international that he had no choice but to retire.

Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

15. Daniel Osvaldo | 2016, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £4.5 million

A bit of a football bad boy, Osvaldo retired in 2016 in order to become a rock star. We’re not sure if that dream became a reality but we haven’t heard much about him since.

14. Mirko Vucinic | 2017, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £4.5 million

Vucinic, who played for several clubs including AS Roma and Juventus, netted 25 goals in just 23 games during his final season in professional football with Al Jazira.

13. Vagner | 2006, aged 32

Market value on day of retirement: £4.95 million

Brazilian who briefly played in Europe with AS Roma and Celta Vigo.

12. Steve McManaman | 2005, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £5.22 million

Best known for his spells at Liverpool and Real Madrid, McManaman ended his career in 2005 after two seasons at Man City.

Steve McManaman of Manchester City

11. Steve Savidan | 2009, aged 31

Market value on day of retirement: £5.4 million

A defect in the French striker’s heart was detected during a medical with AS Monaco and he was subsequently forced to hang up his boots.

10. Alvaro Dominguez | 2016, aged 27

Market value on day of retirement: £5.4 million

Suffered with chronic back problems towards the end of his career and retired aged just 27.

9. Dean Richards | 2004, aged 30

Market value on day of retirement: £6.3 million

Richards retired after receiving "evidence that it would be harmful to his health to continue". Tragically, he passed away in 2011 at the age of 36.

8. Luis Figo | 2009, aged 36

Market value on day of retirement: £6.3 million

A legendary winger, Figo was still playing at the highest level with Inter Milan when he decided to retire.

Inter Milan's Portuguese midfielder Luis

7. Ryan Mason | 2018, aged 26

Market value on day of retirement: £6.3 million

A talented midfielder, Mason suffered a fractured skull that required surgery after a clash of heads with defender Gary Cahill in January 2017. Just over a year later, doctors decided that it would be too risky for the England international to continue playing.

6. Martin Laursen | 2009, aged 31

Market value on day of retirement: £7.2 million

The Denmark international, like others on this list, suffered various injuries towards the end of his career. He decided in May 2009 that he’d rather retire than undergo another major surgery.

5. Dean Ashton | 2009, aged 26

Market value on day of retirement: £7.65 million

Life can be cruel at times. Ashton broke into the England squad in 2008 and retired the following year after failing to recover from a long-term ankle injury.

4. Pavel Nedved | 2009, aged 36

Market value on day of retirement: £8.1 million

A genius of a midfielder, Nedved replaced Zinedine Zidane at Juventus in 2001 and went on to become a club legend.

Juventus Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved c

3. Willy Sagnol | 2008, aged 31

Market value on day of retirement: £8.55 million

The France international walked away from football at the age of 31 because of continuing problems with his Achilles tendon.

2. Philipp Lahm | 2017, aged 33

Market value on day of retirement: £9.9 million

One of the best full-backs of his generation, Lahm could certainly have played for two or three more seasons.

1. Zinedine Zidane | 2006, aged 34

Market value on day of retirement: £11.25 million

Never mind the headbutt, Zidane was officially the best player at the 2006 World Cup. One of the all-time greats, it’s such a shame that Zizou didn’t opt to play on for longer - especially considering what happened during his final match as a professional footballer.

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