Neymar, Alderweireld, Tevez: An XI of players who 'followed the money'


When it was announced on Tuesday that Belgium international centre-back Toby Alderweireld had departed Tottenham Hotspur after seven seasons at the club, his next destination probably came as a shock to many.

Still only 32 years old, Alderweireld would surely have been of interest to many top clubs around Europe. However, you won’t be seeing him ply his trade in the Champions League during the upcoming season. 

Instead, Alderweireld will turn out for Qatari club Al-Duhail next term. The move to the other side of the world is a dramatic one – and, of course, won’t be solely due to the lure of the Qatar Stars League either.  While no figures have been made public, Alderweireld will no doubt be being paid incredibly well following his switch to the Doha-based outfit.

Official: Arsenal sign Ben White for £50m (The Football Terrace)

History shows us that Alderweireld is far from the first play to seemingly prioritise financial security over sporting competition when offered a lucrative deal overseas. Here, per, is a full XI made up of stars who have followed the money when the big offers came calling.

Gordon Banks

One of the heroes of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, Banks had been out of the game for five years when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League tempted him out of retirement in 1977.

Banks had originally called time on his career after losing sight in his right eye during a 1972 car accident. Despite this obvious handicap, Banks went on to be named the NASL Goalkeeper of the Year in his first season with the Florida outfit. Throughout his time with the franchise, Banks was praised for his impeccable professionalism. The legendary shot-stopper may have been on a decent salary, but certainly didn’t go out to the US to take it easy.


Toby Alderweireld

As explained above, the former Ajax and Spurs man hasn’t nipped out to Qatar for the renowned quality of its domestic football. We suspect, though, that his time in the Middle East will be pretty lucrative.

Chris Samba 

The number of big names that Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala brought in between 2011 and 2013 was ridiculous. The likes of Samuel Eto’o and Willian were among those tempted out to the Russian Premier League by the club’s billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov.

In February 2012, a salary of £100,000 a week was enough to persuade Blackburn’s Samba to join the project. The giant defender left Lancashire for a fee of £12.5m. His initial spell with the club lasted less than a year, as he was offloaded to Queens Park Rangers. However, Samba would return to Russia six months later when QPR were relegated – presumably on a similarly large contract.


Roberto Carlos

Another beneficiary of the Kerimov revolution at Anzhi, the iconic Brazilian left-back was handed the keys to a Bugatti Veyron when he agreed to join the party in Russia. Valued at around £1m, we can think of worse signing bonuses.

Yannick Carrasco

The Belgian winger set CSL side Dalian Yifang back £27m when they signed him from Atletico Madrid in 2018. Carrasco must surely have questioned his choice to move when his new team capitulated to an 8-0 defeat on his debut. Still, he stuck it out in China for two seasons – before rejoining Atletico last year.



Axel Witsel

Another Belgian who did very well out of the CSL was midfielder Witsel. The man himself made no secret of why he joined Tianjin Quanjian in 2017.

“No European club would be able to match the offer I got from China. It was hard to refuse,” Witsel explained to reporters after his spell with the team ended. 

Top marks for honesty, Axel.

Alex Teixeira

The Brazilian forward has been widely tipped to join Liverpool in early 2016, before a monster bid from (you guessed it) China derailed things for the Reds. Teixeira linked up with Jiangsu Suning, who paid Shakhtar Donetsk a huge £38.5m for his services. His reported wages of nearly £200,000 a week were nothing to be sniffed at either.



Teixeira was doing well for himself in China, but even his salary was blown out of the water by the almost £400,000 per week that Shanghai Shenhua agreed to pay Oscar following his £52m move from Chelsea. 

It was a crazy time in Chinese football – and the trend of outrageous spending was soon clamped down upon by authorities. As this list shows, however, there has been a number of players that managed to grab themselves some very good money while it lasted.

Carlos Tevez

When the former Manchester City man upped sticks for the CSL from his beloved Boca Juniors in 2016, he definitely had a game plan in mind. Speaking of his move to Shanghai Shenhua, Tevez referred to his time in China as a “vacation”.

 “It’s fine because I was on vacation for seven months,” he claimed. “When I landed in China, I wanted to return to Boca.”

And return to Boca Tevez did, after just one season in the Far East, a great deal richer than when he departed. His reported weekly wage during his spell was close to £600,000 a week.



This one is a lot more justifiable. The numbers involved are still huge, but there can be little argument that the Brazilian is one of the best players on the planet.

As you’d expect, Neymar negotiated an eye-watering salary package when he joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in 2017. On top of the fee of £198m that PSG paid the Blaugrana for his services, PSG also agreed to lay out some £537,000 a week in wages for Neymar.

For that sort of outlay, the Paris club will be hopeful that their star man can finally land them a Champions League trophy this season.

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Garry O’Connor

Ok, so this particular deal isn’t anywhere near a Nemar scale. However, the money that Hibs striker O’Connor made when he agreed to join Lokomotiv Moscow in 2016 were described as “life-changing for Garry and his family,” by his former manager Tony Mowbray.

“I can set my family up for life,” revealed O’Connor after sealing the deal. “If I was single and never had my fiancee or son I maybe would not have made the move to Russia.”

In a touch of class, O’Connor later donated part of his newfound wealth to his former club to help improve their training facilities.

A heartwarming note to end this countdown on.

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