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Six times football clubs activated buy-back clauses

Aston Villa have made a late move to re-sign Hull winger Jaden Philogene, just a year after allowing the winger to leave for the Championship side.

Philogene has been the subject of interest from Premier League rivals Ipswich Town, Crystal Palace and Everton after an impressive campaign with Hull. However, Villa have stolen in to trigger their matching rights option on the player.

Villa also inserted a 30% sell-in clause, meaning Unai Emery’s side can re-sign Philogene for a discount on the £18m offer submitted from Ipswich.

Buy-back clauses have often been a handy way to safeguard the premature sale of a talent and there have been some notable cases of clubs activating such agreements.

Here are six times clubs activated buy-back clauses.

Luther Blissett (Milan to Watford)

Luther Blissett’s blistering form for Watford saw AC Milan splash out £1m to sign the forward in 1983, a deal that seemed to suit all parties as the Hornets earned a huge windfall for the First Division’s top scorer.

Blissett, however, struggled to replicate his goalscoring form for the Rossoneri. He mustered just five league goals during a season of struggle in Serie A, with Milan prepared to cut their losses at the end of the campaign.

Watford activated a clause to re-sign Blissett for a discounted £550,000 and the England international hit the ground running upon his return to Vicarage Road. He scored 21 league goals for Watford in 1984-85 and ended his career with the club with record numbers for appearances (503) and goals (186).

Ian Rush (Juventus to Liverpool)

Juventus signed Ian Rush from Liverpool for £3.2m in 1986, with the fee a record involving a British club. Rush remained on loan at Liverpool for the 1986-87 season and scored 40 goals in all competitions, heightening expectations ahead of his transfer to Turin.

The Welshman failed to settle in Serie A, however, and scored just seven goals in 29 league appearances. A gentleman’s agreement between the clubs saw Liverpool re-sign Rush for £2.8m after just a single season in Italy.

Rush scored 145 goals during his second stint at Anfield, swelling his overall total for the Reds to 346 in all competitions. It’s a club-record figure, for a player who was Liverpool’s leading scorer in seven seasons.

Dani Carvajal (Bayer Leverkusen to Real Madrid)

Dani Carvajal departed Real Madrid for first-team football with the Spaniard signing for Bayer Leverkusen after failing to break into the senior side at the Bernabeu. An impressive campaign in the Bundesliga saw Real spot the error of their ways, however, re-signing the right-back for a fee of €6.5m.

Carvajal has since cemented himself as part of the furniture at Real Madrid during a decorated career of success in Spain. He has made 416 appearances and counting for Los Blancos and has won a joint-record six Champions League trophies during a golden era for the club in Europe.

Casemiro (Porto to Real Madrid)

Another exit Real Madrid hastily regretted. After a handful of first-team appearances for Real Madrid, Casemiro was sent on loan to FC Porto where his performances persuaded the Portuguese side to activate the £10.75million buy option.

Real Madrid, however, craftily inserted a clause of their own allowing them to re-sign the midfielder. Casemiro re-joined Real for a fee of £5.2m (alongside Porto’s initial investment) and evolved into the enforcer of the Madrid midfield.

He was integral to the club’s three-in-a-row Champions League triumphs under Zinedine Zidane, patrolling the park with bite as the midfield minder to Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. He ended his career with the club with three La Liga titles and five Champions League trophies in a bursting cabinet of honours.

Alvaro Morata (Juventus to Real Madrid)

There’s a theme here, isn’t there?

Real Madrid activated another buy-back clause after being impressed with Alvaro Morata’s evolution in the colours of Juventus.

A back-up option for much of his time in Spain, the academy graduate won back-to-back Serie A titles in Italy and scored 27 goals in 93 appearances. Real Madrid re-signed the centre-forward for a fee of £23m and Morata scored 20 goals in all competitions – despite a supporting role to Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo – as the Spanish side won a La Liga and Champions League double in 2016-17.

That summer, he was sold to Chelsea for a fee of £60m, banking the Bernabeu outfit a big profit.

Xavi Simons (PSV to PSG)

Xavi Simons signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona’s academy in search of a first-team chance but made just seven Ligue 1 appearances across two seasons. The French side allowed the midfielder to leave for PSV Eindhoven, though demanded a cut-price buy-back clause was inserted in the deal.

PSG will be grateful for that decision, as Simons starred in the Eredivisie. He scored 19 league goals in 34 appearances to end the 2022-23 campaign as the Dutch top-flight’s joint-leading scorer, before returning to Paris for a bargain €6m.

PSG loaned out the Dutchman in 2023-24, where he enhanced his reputation further with a productive season at RB Leipzig. He’s now worth ten-fold the buy-back fee paid for his services last summer.

Read – Five defensive midfielders Premier League clubs are battling to sign

See more – Euro Classics: England dismantle the Dutch at Euro ’96

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