It’s often said that the most important figure at any football club is the manager, but you wouldn’t think that when you look at the finances involved.
The fees exchanged between clubs when it comes to managers making the switch are a tiny fraction of the astronomical amounts paid for the world’s top players.
But that could be set to change in the coming years, with RB Leipzig holding firm for a record fee for their highly-rated young coach. Here are the five most expensive fees paid for managers in history.
6. Jose Mourinho
Mourinho’s career peaked in 2010 after leading Inter to their first and only Treble. Knocking Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona off their European perch made him extra appealing to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
The biggest name going at the time, the Portuguese coach had masterminded the Champions League semi-final victory over Barcelona, which denied Real’s old rivals the opportunity to win the trophy at the Santiago Bernabeu. After Inter’s celebrations, Mourinho stayed in the Spanish capital to sign for the club.
Perez announced Mourinho’s arrival as “this year’s Galactico” – a reasonably-priced one at just €8million.
Sparks were guaranteed to fly.
5. Ruben Amorim
Former Benfica midfielder Amorim, who was capped 14 times for Portugal, went straight into coaching after retiring in his early 30s.
He didn’t need long in charge of Braga (less than three months) to convince Sporting Lisbon to pay out €10million for his signature back in March 2020. He’d miraculously led Braga to 10 wins from his 13 games in charge, but the hasty appointment raised eyebrows across Portugal.
However, it turned out to be an absolute masterstroke. Amorim led Sporting to their first league title in 19 years in 2020-21. He’s since knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League and established himself as one of Europe’s top young coaches.
Tottenham are said to be interested now. Perhaps Sporting will even make a profit on him.
4. Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers turned his back on the chance to complete a Treble-Treble at Celtic and potentially lead the club to 10 titles in a row when he jumped ship to join Leicester City midway through the 2018-19 season.
The move set Leicester back €10.5million, but the fee has been made to look a bargain as Rodgers transformed the uninspiring unit under Claude Puel into a vibrant side that almost secured Champions League qualification for two years in succession – even if things have gone sour over recent months.
Celtic completed their Treble-Treble, and even added a fourth Treble for good measure, but fell apart with 10 in a row on the line.
🗣"I couldn't let my heart rule my head."
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers talks about the challenge he faced of leaving Celtic to manage back in the Premier League at Leicester pic.twitter.com/mctd0fYUL9
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 26, 2021
3. Andre Villas-Boas
In 2011, Chelsea paid Porto €15million to land the ‘mini-Mourinho’ in the hope of replicating Jose’s success at Stamford Bridge.
Nine months later, the Blues were paying Villas-Boas a cool £11million not to manage them after a run of three wins in 12 Premier League fixtures. Despite the costly affair, Chelsea still ended the season as European champions under the caretaker management of Robert Di Matteo.
Reflecting on Villas-Boas reign, Frank Lampard, who found himself out of the team on occasion under the Portuguese, told The Sun in 2014: “AVB had played his cards and it hadn’t worked. I don’t know if he was too young or whether it had come too early for him.”
2. Julian Nagelsmann
Bayern Munich were required to pay up to €25million – a world-record fee by some distance at the time – to RB Leipzig for Nagelsmann’s services in 2021.
The hottest young property in European coaching had been linked with the job at the Allianz Arena when Carlo Ancelotti was sacked back in September 2017, when he was just 30 years old and still making a name for himself at Hoffenheim.
Bayern ended up going down on a different track, while Nagelsmann’s stock has continued to rise at RB Leipzig, which made Bayern poach him in time-honoured fashion.
The 35-year-old led Bayern to a 10th successive Premier League title, but Champions League elimination to Villarreal left a sour taste. Year two has seen some questionable results and performances and the genuine prospect they might not win the league, but they do remain in Europe after eliminating PSG. The jury remains out, but there are whispers he could lose his job if he doesn’t deliver in the run-in.
1. Graham Potter
Original reports suggested that Chelsea paid Brighton £15million to activate Potter’s release clause, handing him a five-year deal worth £12million per season.
However, it’s since been revealed in Brighton’s 2021-22 accounts that Todd Boehly actually sanctioned £21.5million for Potter’s services. Journalist Nizaar Kinsella states that’s a world-record compensation fee for a coach. It remains to be seen whether that will prove a sound investment.
Completing the top 10: Mark Hughes (Blackburn to Manchester City, €6.2million), Brendan Rodgers (Swansea to Liverpool, €6.2million), Jose Mourinho (Porto to Chelsea, €6million), Unai Emery (Villarreal to Aston Villa, €6million).