The 6 biggest fees paid for a manager: Potter 2nd, Mourinho 6th…

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Graham Potter celebrates after the Premier League match between West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion at London Stadium, London, August 2022.

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.

READ: ‘We’re the best, f*ck you’: The story of Barca & Real’s four Clasicos in 18 days

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.

It appears to have been a sound investment, with the coach maintaining his 70%+ win ratio, which sees Sporting top of the Liga NOS and on course for their first league title since 2002.

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.

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.”

Sounds familiar.

Andre-Villas-Boas-Jose-Mourinho-Chelsea

READ: Six of the best details from Mourinho & AVB’s Chelsea scouting report on Barca

2. Graham Potter

Chelsea spent big to secure Potter’s release from his Brighton contract, paying out £15million to activate his release clause and handing him a five-year deal worth £12million per season.

The fee puts Potter amongst some esteemed company and only time will reveal whether the English manager delivers on his huge potential at Stamford Bridge.

1. Julian Nagelsmann

Bayern Munich were required to pay €25million – a world-record fee for a manager, by some distance – 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.

But, despite winning the Bundesliga last season, Nagelsmann’s side were knockout in the Champions League quarter-finals by Villarreal. They’ll certainly be expecting more this term.

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), Manuel Pellegrini (Villarreal to Real Madrid, €4.2million).


READ MORE: Graham Potter next: How the last 5 English ‘Big Six’ managers fared