West Ham have agreed a deal to sell Declan Rice to Arsenal in a transfer that will make the midfielder the most expensive British footballer of all time.
Even given the extraordinary sums spent in modern football, the £105m fee will provide West Ham with a significant war-chest to attack the transfer market this summer.
Not all sides have improved after the sale of a high-profile star however, and as the Hammers plan how to spend their Rice windfall we’ve looked back at how other Premier League clubs re-invested after record sales.
Manchester United (2009)
Sold: Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m)
Bought: Antonio Valencia (£16m), Gabriel Obertan (£3m), Mame Diouf (£3.5m), Michael Owen (Free)
Manchester United fought to retain the services of Cristiano Ronaldo despite public interest from Real Madrid, but the forward’s inevitable move to the Spanish giants was completed in 2009 for a then-world record fee of £80m.
Ronaldo has evolved into arguably world football’s finest talent across six seasons at Old Trafford, with his final three campaigns having delivered consecutive Premier League titles, the Champions League, back-to-back PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards and a maiden Ballon d’Or.
Sir Alex Ferguson opted to re-invest only a small percentage of Ronaldo’s record fee however, bringing in Antonio Valencia from Wigan and the experienced Michael Owen on a free transfer from relegated Newcastle, alongside prospects Gabriel Obertan and Mame Diouf.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 26, 2020
Valencia spent a decade with the club and proved a fine servant, though each of the other arrivals proved underwhelming. United missed out on the 2009/10 title to domestic double winners Chelsea, despite a then-career best goal return from Wayne Rooney.
Sold: Gareth Bale (£86m)
Bought: Roberto Soldado (£26m), Erik Lamela (£25.8m), Paulinho (£17m), Christian Eriksen (£11.5m), Etienne Capoue (£9.4m), Vlad Chiriches (£8.5m), Nacer Chadli (£7m)
Real Madrid came calling once again for the Premier League’s leading light in the 2013 summer window, securing a world-record deal to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham.
Bale had been the Premier League’s standout star the previous season to win a PFA Players’ Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year treble, having scored 26 goals in all competitions.
Spurs’ recruitment drive to replace Bale proved a scattergun approach, as the north Londoners splashed the cash on seven players they believed could improve the squad as a whole. Dubbed the ‘Magnificent Seven’, only Christian Eriksen can be judged an unquestionable success.
When Tottenham sold Gareth Bale in 2013, they replaced him with the ‘magnificent seven’.
All seven have now left the club. pic.twitter.com/S4sjQwUWSN
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 26, 2021
Roberto Soldado – viewed as coup upon his £26m arrival after a prolific record in La Liga – struggled in the Premier League and scored just seven goals in 52 league appearances, while Paulinho was a major disappointment despite the excitement that greeted his arrival. Etienne Capoue and Erik Lamela showed only moments of quality, while Nacer Chadli and Vlad Chiriches failed to make a memorable impact.
Sold: Luis Suarez (£75m)
Bought: Adam Lallana (£25m), Dejan Lovren (£20m), Lazar Markovic (£20m), Mario Balotelli (£14m), Alberto Moreno (£12m), Divock Origi (£10m), Emre Can (£10m), Rickie Lambert (£4.5m)
Luis Suarez left Liverpool with a reputation as the Premier League’s leading forward, signing for Barcelona in a £75m deal.
Brendan Rodgers failed to learn lessons from Tottenham’s approach to replacing a departed star however, re-investing the Suarez fee on eight new faces. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert all arrived from Southampton with mixed success, while the gamble on former Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli backfired as the Italian flopped at Anfield.
Alberto Moreno failed to live up to expectations and the less said about the £20m capture of Lazar Markovic (remember him?), the better.
In terms of success, Emre Can proved value across four seasons at Liverpool and Lallana began brightly before fitness issues plagued his latter time with the club. Divock Origi overcame a difficult start to earn cult status with a number of important goals, including the clincher in the club’s 2019 Champions League final win over Tottenham.
Sold: Romelu Lukaku (£75m)
Bought: Cuco Martina (Free), Wayne Rooney (Free), Davy Klaassen (£24.8m), Jordan Pickford (£25m), Henry Onyekuru (£7m), Michael Keane (£25m), Gylfi Sigurdsson (£45m), Nikola Vlasic (£9.9m), Sandro Ramirez (£5.5m)
Romelu Lukaku’s return of 87 goals in 166 appearances for Everton persuaded Manchester United to spend £75m on the forward, with the Belgian becoming Everton’s record sale.
Ronald Koeman and recruitment chief Steve Walsh were tasked with rebuilding the side and, like others before them, delivered a rather mixed bag from a wealth of new arrivals.
Wayne Rooney’s return was welcomed and the forward scored 10 league goals in a single season back at the club where he came through the ranks, while Jordan Pickford has cemented his place as England’s number one goalkeeper across six seasons at Goodison Park.
Henry Onyekuru, Sandro Ramirez and Nikola Vlasic failed to live up to early promise however, and neither Michael Keane or Gylfi Sigurdsson justified a combined outlay of £60m.
📆 July 2017:
✍️ Everton sign Davy Klaasen from Ajax for £24m.
📆 July 2018:
❌ Everton make a £12m loss on Davy Klaasen & sell him to Werder Bremen.
😳 He played 251 Minutes of PL Football:
🎯 £5.8M per PL shot.
🏟 £3.86M per PL start.
⏰ £46,215 per PL minute. pic.twitter.com/K5gddVSEHY
— SPORF (@Sporf) July 27, 2018
Davy Klaassen was arguably the biggest disappointment and made just seven league appearances after his arrival from Ajax. The 41-cap Dutch international has since rebuilt his reputation after a return to the Eredivisie side, via Werder Bremen, in 2020.
Sold: Philippe Coutinho (£142m)
Bought: Virgil van Dijk (£75m), Alisson (£65m), Fabinho (£40m), Naby Keita (£52.75m), Xherdan Shaqiri (£13m)
Liverpool might have feared the worst after Philippe Coutinho’s exit to Barcelona in January 2018, with the Brazil international an influential figure across five seasons at Anfield.
The record-breaking £142m sale instead allowed Jurgen Klopp to build his trophy-winning team. The Reds chose not to replace the Brazilian directly, instead using the money to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in a club-record £75m deal. Liverpool re-invested the rest of the fee during the summer to secure the arrivals of Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
The impact of Van Dijk and Alisson has been well-documented, while Fabinho’s arrival helped strengthen the spine of a side who had been entertaining but vulnerable during Klopp’s early reign. The results were immediate as Liverpool won the 2019 Champions League to claim a first trophy under Klopp, before ending the clubs 30-year wait for a Premier League title the following season.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 1, 2023
Van Dijk and Alisson emerged as arguably the world’s best in their respective positions at Liverpool, while Fabinho can be considered a modern club great for his role in recent successes which include FA Cup, League Cup and Club World Cup triumphs.
Xherdan Shaqiri proved a fine squad player despite a limited role, with Keita the sole disappointment from the 2018 summer window. The midfielder arrived with a big reputation, but made just 49 league starts across five seasons due to persistent fitness issues.
Sold: Eden Hazard (£88.5m)
Bought: Mateo Kovacic (£40m)
Real Madrid confirmed the signing of Eden Hazard from Chelsea on a five-year contract in 2019, for an initial fee of £88.5m. Hazard had one year remaining on his Chelsea contract and expressed a desire to leave for Spain, after scoring twice in the club’s Europa League final win over Arsenal in his final appearance.
Chelsea were unable to re-invest the funds from Hazard’s sale after being hit with a transfer ban for rule breaches relating to the signing of u-18 players. Mateo Kovacic’s permanent move from Real Madrid was permitted after a loan spell at Stamford Bridge, but there were no further additions.
The ban did allow new manager Frank Lampard to integrate the club’s best academy prospects, with Mason Mount, Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori emerging as first-team players.
Sold: Harry Maguire (£80m)
Bought: Youri Tielemans (£40m), Ayoze Perez (£30m), Dennis Praet (£18m), James Justin (£8m)
Harry Maguire became the most expensive defender in history after completing an £80m move to Manchester United in 2019.
The centre-back had impressed for England at the previous summer’s World Cup and left Leicester to sign for the Red Devils in a record-breaking deal.
Leicester used the fee received to sign loanee Youri Tielemans in a £40m club-record deal and the midfielder make his mark at the Foxes with a series of spectacular goals – including the winner in the 2021 FA Cup final as the club won the competition for the first time.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 23, 2022
James Justin also proved a hit and made his England debut in 2022, while Leicester showed immediate improvement after Maguire’s exit. Ninth in the Premier League during the defender’s final campaign, the Foxes secured consecutive fifth-placed finishes in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Aston Villa (2021)
Sold: Jack Grealish (£100m)
Bought: Emi Buendia (£33m), Leon Bailey (£25m), Danny Ings (£25m), Ashley Young (Free), Axel Tuanzebe (loan)
Jack Grealish became the Premier League’s first £100m player after Manchester City activated the release clause in the winger’s Aston Villa contract.
Villa were aware of interest in club captain Grealish and planned ahead to spend the record fee on a trio of attacking additions.
What a finish. 🔥
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 3, 2022
Emi Buendia arrived after being named as the Championship Player of the Season at Norwich and has shown real quality in moments, though has lacked the consistent end product shown in the second tier.
Leon Bailey’s story is similar with infrequent flashes of quality from a wide role since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen, while Danny Ings scored 14 goals in 52 appearances before departing for West Ham after failing to dislodge Ollie Watkins at centre-forward.