The 10 highest loan fees ever & how the loanees fared ft. Man Utd, Spurs…

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Alvaro Morata in action for Juventus against Lazio, Allianz Stadium, Turin, May 2022

As transfer fees become more and more astronomical, clubs are increasingly looking at loan deals  – but even these now come with hefty fees. Manchester United, Juventus and Tottenham are among clubs that have forked out serious money for temporary deals.

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter Milan on loan a year after joining Chelsea in a £100million deal, for a loan fee of around £7million with £3million in add-ons.

This fee, while relatively big given the nature of the loan, as a one-year deal with no option or obligation to buy, does not place the deal for the Belgian forward in the most expensive loan deals, and over the years there have been some surprisingly high fees paid.

A lot of the most expensive loan deals took place in Serie A  and there has been mixed success among the loanees.

Some stayed with their clubs permanently after a successful stint while others returned to their parent club with their tails between their legs. We’ve listed the top 10 loan deals with the highest fees.

10. Mattia Destro – Roma

The Italian striker was owned by both Siena and Genoa in a fairly complicated joint deal before he made a loan move to Roma in 2012 for a fee of £10.35million.

There was an option to make the deal permanent for around £3.5million, and the forward did a superb job of replacing Fabio Borini despite a host of injury problems.

His injuries eventually caught up with him, though, and he departed on loan again less than three seasons later after scoring 29 goals in 68 games in Rome.

9. Odion Ighalo – Manchester United

A deal which surprised everyone including Ighalo himself, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed the former Watford star on loan from Shanghai Shenhua in January 2020.

A whopping £10.8million was paid for an initial six-month loan, which was extended for another six months following Project Restart, and the Nigerian striker scored five goals in 23 appearances for the club.

Signed as cover for the injured Marcus Rashford, Ighalo wasn’t exactly the star name United fans were expecting, but he endeared himself to them with his efforts, which is more than some superstars at Old Trafford can say.

“‘You’re going to get a pay cut to go to United.’ I said: ‘I don’t care. Make this deal happen,” Ighalo recounted after his move from the Chinese Super League.

“I want to go to United. I don’t care how much is the pay cut, I know that, make it happen’”

8. Nicolo Barella – Inter

Inter signed the Italy midfielder from Cagliari on an initial one-year loan with an obligation to buy in 2019.

The £10.8million loan fee was enough to convince Cagliari to part ways with their best player before the deal was made permanent for £30milllion a year later.

Barella has been nothing short of sensational since his very first day at San Siro, and the 25-year-old has established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders.

7. Federico Chiesa – Juventus

Yet another Serie A deal, Chiesa traded Fiorentina for Juventus on a two-year loan in 2020, with an overall loan fee of £11.3million and an obligation to buy for around £40million after the loan.

The Italy winger performed brilliantly during his loan spell but suffered a long-term injury in his second season. Still, the £51.3million paid in total for Chiesa will likely prove a bargain.

One of many Fiorentina stars to be poached by Juventus over the years, the 24-year-old has been linked with Premier League clubs but it will be a while before Juventus even remotely consider letting him go.

6. Carlos Tevez – Manchester United

The least recent deal on this list, Tevez joined Manchester United on a two-year loan from West Ham following his controversial spell in east London.

United paid around £11.4million for the loan, and Tevez performed so brilliantly that Sir Alex Ferguson stated his desire to keep the striker… but wasn’t willing to pay £25million to make the deal permanent.

The Argentinian broke United hearts by joining bitter rivals Manchester City at the end of his loan spell, and there’s no way Ferguson didn’t regret coughing the money up.

One of many eventful chapters in the roller-coaster career of Tevez…

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. 17 April 2013.

READ: Carlos Tevez: A priceless striker who even proved Fergie wrong

5. James Rodriguez – Bayern Munich

James Rodriguez was a star at the 2014 World Cup and became a ‘Galactico’ shortly after as Real Madrid came calling, but his time at the Bernabeu was underwhelming given the hype.

The Colombian midfielder wanted to rejuvenate his stagnating career after a few disappointing campaigns and joined Bayern Munich on loan for two seasons for around £11.7million in 2017.

Reuniting with Carlo Ancelotti, Rodriguez performed well at times in Munich but still struggled to find consistency, and Bayern didn’t activate the option to buy in his contract once his loan came to an end.

He somehow found himself at Everton a short while after.

4. Duvan Zapata – Atalanta

Another Colombian star to feature here, Zapata had been loaned around Italy a lot, with spells at Napoli and Udinese, before he eventually found himself at Sampdoria, only to be loaned out again.

The striker joined Atalanta in 2018 on a two-year loan for £12.6million with an option to purchase, and this option was exercised with incredible gusto as Zapata scored 28 goals in his first season at Atalanta.

Zapata has become one of Serie A’s biggest stars, and Sampdoria must be kicking themselves.

3. Giovani Lo Celso – Tottenham

Spurs and loan deals have seemingly gone hand in hand in recent years, but Lo Celso was not one of their successes.

After a stunning loan spell at Real Betis which was made permanent, the Argentina midfielder moved on loan to north London in August 2019 for around £14.4million, and his option to buy was activated a few months later after a bright start.

However, Lo Celso’s form fell off a cliff and was eventually loaned out to Villarreal two years later.

Dele Alli celebrates after scoring for Tottenham. White Hart Lane, October 2016.

READ: Ranking all 27 signings Tottenham made under Mauricio Pochettino

2. Alvaro Morata – Atletico Madrid

A journeyman striker who seems to favour Europe’s biggest clubs, the Spain international needed a confidence boost after a nightmare spell at Chelsea and moved on loan to Atletico Madrid for 18 months.

As a former Real Madrid star, this was a controversial decision, but Morata performed brightly in his loan spell, which cost Atletico £16.2million, and scored 22 goals in that time before the deal was made permanent.

However, a change of heart from both club and player meant that Morata moved on loan again for even more money…

1. Alvaro Morata – Juventus

The striker has racked up heavy transfer fees during his career, and Juventus paid an initial £18million with an option to buy for Morata in 2020.

A year later Juventus still couldn’t decide if they wanted Morata permanently and paid another £10million for a season-long loan which knocked the equivalent amount off his £45million option to buy.

With 32 goals but some inconsistent performances since his return to Turin, we’ve no idea when the 29-year-old might finally settle at a club.


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