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Olympique Lyonnais

Lyon most expensive player sales - How Ligue 1 side made over €1 billion in outgoing transfers

3:00 PM SGT 27/10/22
Transfer gurus Lyon Lacazette Ndombele
Lyon have made plenty of cash over the course of the last two decades by selling some of their most prized assets

Lyon are not just one of the most successful teams in France, winning seven Ligue 1 titles in the first decade of the 21st century, but they are also a popular destination for Europe's elite clubs when they look to strengthen their teams.

There was Michael Essien who made the move to Chelsea after impressing at OL, Karim Benzema earned himself a move to Real Madrid and there are many more who made the step up from Lyon over the course of the last two decades alone.

In 2022 alone, Lyon twice sold a player in deals worth over €40 million, with Brazil internations Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta both leaving the French outfit for Premier League clubs.

Let's take a look at the players that have made Lyon the most money since the turn of the millennium.

Olympique Lyonnais most expensive sales by season


Biggest sale


Total sales


Lucas Paqueta




Bruno Guimaraes




Bertrand Traore




Tanguy Ndombele




Mariano Diaz




Alexandre Lacazette




Samuel Umtiti




Clinton N'Jie




Naby Sarr




Dejan Lovren




Hugo Lloris




Jeremy Toulalan




Jean II Makoun




Karim Benzema




Hatem Ben Arfa




Florent Malouda




Mahamadou Diarra




Michael Essien




Peguy Luyindula




Jeremie Brechet




Marc-Vivien Foe




Steve Marlet




Frederic Kanoute





*All figures are taken from Transfermarkt unless stated otherwise.

Lyon top 10 most expensive player sales

  • Lucas Tousart of Berlin

    #10 Lucas Tousart | €25m/£22.8m | Hertha | 2019

    After impressing for the Lyon B side between 2015 to 2016, Tousart was promoted to the senior team and the combative midfielder featured for over 100 games for the senior team for the best part of five years.

    In January 2020, he was sold for €25 million (£22.8m) to Hertha, but he would complete that season at Lyon before making the move to the Bundesliga.

    Arguably his best moment for Lyon came during that final spell when his goal shocked Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie that season.

    Tousart has now played over 70 games for Hertha.

  • Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid

    #9 Mahamadou Diarra | €26m/£17.6m | Real Madrid | 2006

    Part of an incredible midfield trio with Michael Essien and Juninho, Diarra helped Lyon win Ligue 1 in each of the four seasons he spent at the club.

    In 2006, then Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello famously asked club president Ramon Calderon to sign three players: "Diarra, Diarra and Diarra."

    Los Blancos paid €26m (£17.6m) for the combative midfielder.

    Diarra went on to help Real Madrid win LaLiga in 2007 after a four-year gap, scoring a header in the 81st minute to help Madrid beat Mallorca in their crucial final game of the season to just hold off Barcelona.

  • Michael Essien 2004

    #8 Michael Essien | €38m/£24.4m | Chelsea | 2005

    After rejecting Paris Saint-Germain, Essien moved to Lyon in 2003, playing as a box-to-box midfielder and establishing himself as one of the best young prospects in the game at the time.

    The Ghanaian scored for Lyon just five minutes into his debut against Auxerre in 2003.

    After a successful spell that saw him lead Lyon to the quarter-finals of the 2004-05 Champions League, he won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award and was nominated for the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year award.

    Chelsea came calling in the summer of 2005, smashing their transfer record and paying €38m (£24.4m) for Essien.

  • Karim Benzema Lyon 2008

    #7 Karim Benzema | €35m/£30m | Real Madrid | 2009

    In 2008, Benzema was among the most in-demand strikers in Europe after his incredible performances for Lyon.

    The Frenchman was named Ligue 1's Player of the Year and also made his way into the Team of the Year after finishing as the league's top scorer to help secure his fourth league title and first Coupe de France.

    Real Madrid came calling in 2009 and agreed to pay the €35m (£30m) demanded by Lyon.

    After an initial period of struggle, Benzema established himself as one of the greatest strikers of all time, winning 23 trophies with Real Madrid, including five Champions League titles, four of which came between 2014 to 2018.

    His place at the top of the game was confirmed when he was named the Ballon d'Or winner in October 2022.

  • Corentin Tolisso Lyon

    #6 Corentin Tolisso | €41.50m/£36.5m | Bayern Munich | 2017

    Tolisso moved to Bayern Munich from Lyon for a €41.5m (£36.5m) fee in the summer of 2017.

    The French midfielder was Lyon's record sale at the time, before Arsenal signed Lacazette just under a month later.

    Tolisso was also a record signing for Bayern as well as the Bundesliga, surpassing the previous record of €40m that the club spent to bring in Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao in 2012.

    The Frenchman scored on his Bundesliga debut against Bayer Leverkusen and went on to make 72 appearances for Bayern over the course of five years.

    In the summer of 2022, he moved back to Lyon on a five-year deal.

  • Bruno Guimarães Lyon 2020

    #5 Bruno Guimaraes | €42m/£33m | Newcastle | 2022

    Lyon sold Bruno Guimaraes to newly rich Newcastle United in January 2022 for €42m (£33m).

    Bruno signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Magpies, making his debut in February as a late substitute in a 3-1 win against Everton.

    He scored his first goal for Newcastle on his full debut with an incredible back-heel volley in a 2-1 win over Southampton in March 2022.

    Guimaraes helped Newcastle end the 2021-22 season on a high with his impressive performances, none of which topped the brace he scored against Leicester in April, with his second goal coming as a 95th-minute match winner.

  • Ferland Mendy Lyon 2018-19

    #4 Ferland Mendy | €48m/£43m | Real Madrid | 2019

    Lyon signed the then 22-year-old Mendy from Le Havre in 2017 for a reported €5m.

    The left-back enjoyed two great seasons at Lyon and his performances earned him a spot in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year in back-to-back seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

    Real Madrid were quick to show an interest, agreeing to pay a premium €48m (£43m) fee for the Frenchman in 2019.

    Mendy won La Liga in his first season at the club and also helped Madrid win the Champions League in 2021-22.

  • Alexandre Lacazette Lyon Lille Ligue 1 05102014

    #3 Alexandre Lacazette | €53m/£46.5m | Arsenal | 2017

    After an incredible seven years with Lyon between 2010 to 2017 in which he helped them win the Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions, Lacazette was sold to Arsenal in the summer of 2017 for an eye-watering €53m (£46.5m).

    Lacazette became Arsenal's most-expensive signing at the time and was the largest fee ever received from a player sale by Lyon, beating the record set by Corentin Tolisso's move to Bayern just three weeks earlier.

    The French striker helped Arsenal win the FA Cup in the 2019-20 season and returned to Lyon for free in the 2022 summer transfer window.

  • Lucas Paquetá-westham-transfer

    #2 Lucas Paqueta | €61.6m/£50m | West Ham | 2022

    After signing him from Milan for €20 million in the summer of 2020, Lyon helped Lucas Paqueta establish himself as one of the best players in Ligue 1.

    In the two seasons he spent in France, Paqueta made 67 appearances for Lyon, scoring 18 goals.

    His performances for Lyon caught the eye of many clubs, but West Ham won the race to sign him, splashing €42.95m (£38.66m) on the Brazilian in the summer of 2022.

  • Tanguy Ndombele Lyon 2018-19

    #1 Tanguy Ndombele | €62m/£55.4m | Tottenham | 2019

    Ndombele moved to Lyon on a one-year loan in August 2017 from Amiens, before the move was made permanent the next season for €8m.

    Ndombele featured in his first match in the Champions League in 2018 against a star-studded Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and was their best performer in a 2-1 away win.

    This performance caught the eye of European heavyweights including City, PSG and even Real Madrid.

    But it was Tottenham who smashed their club transfer record to sign the Frenchman for €62m (£55.4m) in the summer of 2019 in another win-win situation for Lyon.

    Ndombele returned to Lyon on loan in January 2022 after an unsuccessful spell at Spurs, before being loaned to Napoli in August 2022 for a season, with an option to buy the player for €30m (£26m)