There comes a time in every player’s career when it’s time for them to leave their club, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Some players prove to be a little tough to sell, but there a select few who seem to be completely unsellable. Clubs try all they can to cut the ties, but for whatever reason, it feels totally impossible.
Let’s take a look at eight of them.
1. Philippe Coutinho
Nobody told them that shelling out £142m on the Brazilian was a bad idea, and now they’re paying for it. He’s just had to spend a year out on loan with Bayern Munich because nobody wanted to sign him permanently, but his high price tag has seen him returned to Camp Nou this summer.
To make matters worse, he even scored twice against them in what was undoubtedly Barcelona’s most humiliating defeat of all time. Could this have gone any worse?
2. Gareth Bale
Real Madrid had the chance to sell Gareth Bale last summer. Jiangsu Suning were ready to swallow Bale’s huge wages to sign him on a free transfer, only for Real president Florentino Pérez to decide he was too valuable to give up for free.
His reward? Another year of paying Bale’s £600,000-a-week wages.
It got even worse for Real when Chinese sides were prohibited from throwing around such bumper wage packets, so now there’s literally nobody in the world prepared to pay Bale that much money.
Not only are Real stuck with that wage to pay, but Bale has been attracting all sorts of negative press from the Spanish media. In every possible way, this has gone horribly.
3. Danny Drinkwater
Chelsea‘s decision to sign Danny Drinkwater for £35m in 2017 raised plenty of eyebrows, but nobody could have predicted just how badly things would end up for everyone involved.
After disastrous loan spells with Burnley and Aston Villa, Drinkwater’s stock is lower than it has ever been, but he’s still pocketing a cool £100,000-a-week to turn up to training and not play. Oh, and he was done for drink-driving in April 2019. And ended up with damaged ankle ligaments after a fight outside a nightclub later in the year. So…not great, Bob.
4. Kepa Arrizabalaga
Sticking with Chelsea, the Blues are also ruing the decision to make Kepa Arrizabalaga the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and to hand him a six-year contract.
The £71.6m has just finished a historically bad Premier League season and could well be on his way out of Stamford Bridge, but who is going to pay anything close to that original fee?
Chelsea know a loss is inevitable, but they might need to bite the bullet and lose even more money just to bring this saga to an end.
5. Mesut Özil
Criticised for his injury record and a poor work rate, Özil lost his spot in the first team just a matter of months after signing his new contract in 2018, and £350,000 a week is a lot to pay a substitute.
Unai Emery did his best to sell Özil but couldn’t find anyone prepared to match his wages, and Mikel Arteta is facing a similar issue.
6. Samuel Umtiti
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to leave Camp Nou, despite La Blaugrana’s repeated attempts to offload him.
The Frenchman’s desire to stay has made life hard for Barcelona, but perhaps the biggest problem is his injury record. He’s yet to play more than 25 league games in a single season for Barça and has maxed out at 14 in the last two years.
No team wants to spend big on Umtiti, while he can’t find anyone willing to pay him a similar wage, leaving Barcelona stuck with him.
7. Thomas Lemar
It often slips under the radar that Atlético Madrid spent €70m on Thomas Lemar in 2018. He’s one of the most expensive players on the planet, but hasn’t played like one in Spain.
With just two goals and three assists to his name (all of which came in his debut season), Lemar has earned the unwanted ‘flop’ label, and that’s what has deterred teams from trying to sign him.
Like so many on this list, Atléti’s refusal to accept a huge loss on Lemar has caused problems. Unless they change their standpoint, it’s hard to see a way out.
8. Gonzalo Higuaín
With Maurizio Sarri leaving Juventus, Gonzalo Higuaín lost what was likely his final supporter at the Allianz Stadium.
The high-earning Argentine, who has entered the final year of the lucrative five-year deal he signed when he first moved to Turin, is expected to be moved on this summer, and the lack of suitors has even left Juve considering terminating his contract.
They’ve already done it with Blaise Matuidi – could Higuaín be next?