Pogba, Neymar, Grealish: The most overpriced XI in football history

Pogba, Neymar, Grealish: The most overpriced XI in football history

With less than a month to go until the 2022/23 season gets underway in the majority of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, the transfer market is a hive of activity.

We’ve already seen a number of high-profile deals completed this summer. Chief among them has been Manchester City’s signing of prolific Norwegian striker Erling Haaland.

Thanks to a release clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract, City were able to snap up the 21-year-old for a mere £54 million – some £81m less than his actual market value.

Bargains like Haaland are few and far between in the modern game. In their quest to put together the most successful squads possible, clubs have frequently paid vastly inflated transfer fees down the years.

Sometimes these gambles have paid off, on other occasions they have backfired spectacularly.

Thanks to the number crunchers over at Transfermarkt, we’ve been able to identify the most ‘overpriced’ players in the game (based on the transfer fee that was paid for them, less their market value at the time).

We’ve then sorted them by position to assemble the most overpriced XI in football history. Inclusion is based purely on the data, meaning that performance isn’t taken into account.

Erling Haaland
DORTMUND, GERMANY – OCTOBER 16: Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund thanks fans after his sides victory in the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and 1. FSV Mainz 05 at Signal Iduna Park on October 16, 2021 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Man City might have bagged a great deal where Haaland is concerned, but the reigning Premier League champions are certainly no strangers to paying over the odds for a star name.

Let’s now take a look at the most overpriced XI of all time.

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea) – £54m difference

Transfer fee: £72m

Market value at time of deal: £18m

CB: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool) – £49.19m

Transfer fee: £76.19m

Market value at the time of deal: £27m

Virgil van Dijk
LEEDS, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on September 12, 2021 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

CB: Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City) – £36m

Transfer fee: £58.5m

Market value at the time of deal: £22.5m

CB: Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United) – £33.3m

Transfer fee: £78.3m

Market value at the time of deal: £45m

CM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona) – £40.5m

Transfer fee: £121.5m

Market value at the time of deal: £81m

Coutinho at Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 30: Philippe Coutinho of FC Barcelona looks dejected during the LaLiga Santander match between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on October 30, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

CM: Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United) – £31.5m

Transfer fee: £94.5m

Market value at the time of deal: £63m

CM: Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg to Manchester City) – £27.9m

Transfer fee: £68.4m

Market value at the time of deal: £40.5m

LW: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City) – £47.25 million

Transfer fee: £105.75m

Market value at the time of deal: £58.5m

RW: Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona) – £91.8m

Transfer fee: £121.50m

Market value at the time of deal: £29.7m

Dembele at Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 18: Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona reacts during the LaLiga Santander match between FC Barcelona and Cadiz CF at Camp Nou on April 18, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

CF: Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain) – £109.8m

Transfer fee: £199.8m

Market value at the time of deal: £90m

CF: Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain) – £54m

Transfer fee: £162m

Market value at the time of deal: £108m

Kylian Mbappe
MADRID, SPAIN – MARCH 09: Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates after scoring their team’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round Of Sixteen Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 09, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Eyebrows were raised when Man City smashed the British transfer record to sign Grealish last summer. In his first season at the Etihad, the Englishman struggled to justify his lofty £105.75m price tag. Realistically, his form was even a fair way short of his £58.5m market value from last August.

City have gambled big in the past and succeeded, though, with both Laporte and De Bruyne becoming key men in Pep Guardiola’s side.

Laporte and De Bruyne
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte of Manchester City embrace prior to kick off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on February 19, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Liverpool’s Van Dijk is another example of a major investment paying off in a handsome fashion. However, for every success there seem to be many more failures.

Man United broke the bank to sign Pogba for £31.5m over his market value in 2016 – and soon regretted it. The controversial Frenchman walked away from Old Trafford at the end of his contract for absolutely nothing last month. Few were sorry to see him go.

That hasn’t been the Red Devils’ only transfer gaffe, either. The club splashing out £78.3m on Maguire in 2019 seemed excessive from the outset, with the former Leicester man doing little to change that narrative with his performances over the past three years.

Harry Maguire frustrated
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 09: Harry Maguire of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on April 09, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Elsewhere, it’s no secret that PSG have spent a frightening amount of money on players in hopes of bringing the Champions League back to the French capital. It hasn’t happened yet and the club are reportedly willing to cut ties with £199.8m man Neymar this summer.

The worst business in this XI, though, has to be Barcelona paying a staggering £91.8m over the odds for Dembele – a player they are now desperate to simply get off the wage bill at Camp Nou. It’s no wonder that the Catalan club is in financial disarray after signing off on deals such as this.

The most overpriced XI in football history

Most overpriced XI in football history

Virgil van Dijk quiz: How well do you know the Liverpool superstar?

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Van Dijk rallies the troops.

Let’s start easy: what number does Van Dijk wear for Liverpool?

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