11 fringe players who were sold for sizeable profit: Ward, Vela, De Bruyne…
Transfer prices have rocketed to the extent that top clubs are now able to sell their fringe players for big money – with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United profiting.
With transfers in excess of £100million starting to become more common, even the top Premier League clubs need to sell to generate funds. But, unlike the have-nots of the world, they rarely need to sell the family silver.
Here are some players who made their clubs significant profit without even being a regular in the first team.
Ward joined Liverpool from boyhood club Wrexham in 2012, commanding a fee of £100,000 despite having played no first team matches for the Conference side.
The Welsh goalkeeper impressed in loan spells at Aberdeen and Huddersfield – sandwiching a Reds Premier League debut against Bournemouth – but during his time at Anfield he earned more caps for Wales (4) than he made senior Liverpool appearances (3).
That wasn’t stopping Leicester, though, who paid £12.5million for the 25-year-old, handing Liverpool a tidy profit on someone who was never higher than third choice.
In 2005, Arsenal trumped a number of clubs to sign Vela from Mexican club Guadalajara for a fee that would eventually rise to just over £500,000.
He managed 62 appearances for the club – but just 29 in the Premier League – as he was sent on loan numerous times after work permit issues, before he made his loan move to Real Sociedad permanent in 2012.
The initial transfer only saw Arsenal receive around £2million, but in 2014 they waived their buy-back clause and Sociedad paid £12million to make the forward theirs.
Kevin De Bruyne
It may look ridiculous now, but the £18million Chelsea received from Wolfsburg for De Bruyne in 2014 was an excellent piece of business at the time.
He had joined for £7million just two years earlier but was immediately loaned back to Genk before spending a season at Werder Bremen, where he impressed, scoring 10 times in 33 Bundesliga appearances as well as recording nine assists.
De Bruyne returned to Chelsea but mustered just three Premier League appearances before Wolfsburg made their approach in January, handing the Blues a swift profit of £11million.
Two-and-a-half years down the line, the German side made their own profit on him: £37million.
In 2006, a 16-year-old Szczesny joined Arsenal from Legia Warsaw for a fee of around £50,000, eventually progressing to be No.1 at the Emirates.
However, despite Arsene Wenger’s repeated promise that he would be Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper for years to come, Szczesny fell down the pecking order as the club signed David Ospina and Petr Cech, and he spent two years on loan at Roma.
Making just 17 Premier League appearances since 2014, the Polish goalkeeper joined Juventus in 2017 for £10million. Last term, he shared the goalkeeping duties with Gianluigi Buffon, who he is expected to succeed as first choice in Turin.
Tottenham signed Austrian centre back Wimmer from FC Koln in 2015, after the 22-year-old impressed in their first season back in the Bundesliga.
They paid around £4.3million for the defender, who impressed toward the latter stages of his debut season after injuries allowed a breakthrough.
However he struggled to keep that going into the next term, scoring an own goal in the North London derby, and Tottenham would have struggled to say no to the £18million offered by Stoke after just 15 Premier League appearances in two years.
Then-Stoke boss Mark Hughes described the signing as a “real coup”, and commented on the fee, saying: “There is a lot of money being spent this summer, so for us to get a player of Kevin’s calibre through the door for the price we have paid, in my opinion, is something we will really appreciate for years to come.”
He made 17 appearances in Stoke’s relegation campaign, with Hughes’ replacement Paul Lambert placing the defender on a special fitness regime before he joined Hannover on loan in May.
Having made his Football League debut aged 15, Ibe joined Liverpool from Wycombe for £500,000, completing the move in January 2012.
The winger managed 41 Premier League appearances in four years at Anfield, before Bournemouth came in with a club-record bid of £15million for the winger.
However a rift between him and new boss Jurgen Klopp was rumoured, and he made just a handful of appearances from February until the end of the season, when Liverpool were happy to settle on a hefty profit on the then 20-year-old.
In 2016-17, Iheanacho started five Premier League games for Manchester City.
At the end of that season, Leicester City bought him for a fee reported to be around £25million, despite already having Jamie Vardy up front.
In his first season at the King Power Stadium, Iheanacho started seven Premier League games. An increase of two probably wasn’t what he had in mind.
Signing for Chelsea in 2003 for £7million, Bridge had a very turbulent six years at the club, and after just 17 Premier League appearances in his final two campaigns, Manchester City came calling.
They splashed out a hefty £12million on the left-back, who was 28, as one of the first transfers of the Sheikh Mansour reign, but even Bridge wasn’t convinced.
“I remember speaking to Jamie Redknapp about the price, and saying, ‘I think they’re paying too much’,” Bridge told us. “He was like, ‘nah, you’re quality,’ but I didn’t see it.”
After joining Parma aged 12, a 16-year-old Rossi joined Manchester United for less than £200,000 back in 2004.
He managed only five Premier League appearances – 14 in total – before United cut their losses and agreed to a transfer to Villarreal.
A few months after his 20th birthday, he commanded a £6.7million fee, netting United a cool profit and allowing him to kick-start his career, scoring 67 goals in four seasons before injury cruelly struck.
Chelsea jumped at the chance to sign 18-year-old Bamford, who was to be out of contract at Nottingham Forest, for £1.5million in 2012.
However, despite impressing in loan spells at MK Dons, Derby and Middlesbrough, he never donned the blue shirt in five years, before returning to Teesside permanently.
Boro forked out a pricely £10million to force Chelsea’s hand, and the striker scored 10 times in the Championship in 2017-18.
Incredibly, in nine years among the first-team set-up at Chelsea, Bertrand made just 28 Premier League appearances, with 19 of those coming in the 2012-13 campaign.
He had joined from Gillingham, with a tribunal setting a fee at £125,000, and in fact made his European debut in the Champions League final – the only ever player to do so – as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties.
After nine loan spells in total, Bertrand moved to Southampton in 2014 for £10million, and in four years has become a vital member of the Saints squad – narrowly missing out on a place on the plane for England’s World Cup campaign in Russia.