Salah for €42m & the 15 most undervalued players in history

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Roma have long since realised they undercharged Liverpool for the Egyptian ace. Here, Goal looks back at other players who were sold on the cheap...

Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah was named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, after a remarkable debut season at Anfield in which he has already racked up an incredible 41 goals in all competitions. 

The Egyptian winger's sensational form has only made Roma's decision to sell him to the Reds last summer for €42 million look all the more ludicrous.

With that in mind, Goal has decided to look back at other clearly talented players who were sold on the cheap.

It is worth noting, though, that we've excluded all free transfers, as well as players who were unknowns at the time of their respective moves. 

However, have we overlooked anybody? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below... 

  1. Dennis Bergkamp

    Dennis Bergkamp was arguably the hottest prospect in world football when he joined Inter from Ajax in 1994.

    However, the Dutch forward struggled to both score goals and come to terms with the demanding nature of the Italian press, resulting in one paper renaming their 'Donkey of the Week' award the 'Bergkamp of the Week'.

    The Netherlands ace felt the Nerazzurri were to blame for his poor return, claiming, "They said: 'We're going to play more offensive.' And they did, but only for the first month!"

    As a result, Bergkamp was only too happy to leave when Arsenal came calling in 1995.

    Inter got £7.5 million for the striker but that proved scant consolation as Bergkamp became an icon in north London by rediscovering his goalscoring touch and, more importantly, wowing the English game with his wondrous ball control.

  2. Fabio Cannavaro

    Exactly why Inter felt compelled to swap Fabio Cannavaro for Juventus goalkeeper Fabian Carini in 2004 remains shrouded in mystery.

    It has even been claimed that former Bianconeri director Luciano Moggi told Cannavaro to feign injury in order to persuade the Nerazzurri to cut their losses on the centre-half, who had disappointed in the two seasons that followed his €23m transfer from Parma. 

    However, that story doesn't really explain why Inter felt Carini, who had spent the previous two seasons on loan at Standard Leige, was worth €10m – the same amount as Cannavaro. It remains one of the most bizarre valuations in football history and former president Massimo Moratti has never lived it down.

    Of course, Cannavaro, who has always insisted that Inter "wanted Carini at all costs", went on to prove himself the best centre-half in the world, winning the World Cup in 2006 before leaving for Real Madrid after Juve were relegated from Serie A for their involvement in Calciopoli.

    As for Carini, the Uruguayan made just four appearances for Inter before being allowed to join Murcia in 2007.

  3. Eric Cantona

    It was the phone call which changed the entire course of English football history. On November 25, 1992, Leeds managing director Bill Fotherby rang Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards to enquire about signing Dennis Irwin. 

    The Irish full-back was not available at any price but, according to manager Alex Ferguson, he then prompted Edwards to ask about Leeds striker Eric Cantona.

    It is worth noting that Edwards insists that signing the Frenchman was his idea but, whatever the truth, United could not believe their luck when Fotherby went away to consider the situation only to return an hour later to say that Cantona was for available for £1.5m, as Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson had grown weary of Cantona's arrogance and ill-discipline.

    The Red Devils eventually haggled Leeds down to £1.2 and quickly wrapped up the most important deal in Premier League history, with Cantona going on to become a legend at Old Trafford, inspiring United to their first top-flight title in 25 years just six months after his arrival.

  4. Roberto Carlos

    Roberto Carlos has long blamed one man and one man alone for Inter's ludicrous decision to sell him to Real Madrid in 1996 for just €6m.

    “It's not that I did not have a good relationship with Roy Hodgson," the Brazilian said of the former Nerazzurri coach. "It is just that Hodgson doesn't know much about football."

    The former England manager wanted Carlos to play as a winger but the thunder-thighed South American only felt comfortable at left-back, where he was first-choice for the Selecao.

    "I spoke to [Inter president] Massimo Moratti to see if he could sort things out and it soon became clear that the only solution was to leave," he revealed.

    So, Carlos joined Real Madrid, where he would spend the next 11 years proving himself one of the greatest left-backs of all time.

  5. Edgar Davids

    Edgar Davids once said of his move from AC Milan to Juventus, "It was like a gift from heaven." The Bianconeri viewed the Dutchman in the very same way.

    Davids had joined AC Milan on a free transfer from Ajax in the summer of 1996, having already established himself as one of the most dynamic and abrasive young midfielders in world football.

    However, he broke his leg shortly after arriving at San Siro and struggled to recapture his best form in an unusually mediocre Milan side. 

    The Rossoneri, thus, jumped at the chance to make some money on a player they had signed for nothing but the €8m they received from Juventus for 'The Pitbull' unsurprisingly proved pittance, as Davids excelled in Turin.

    "A lot of it was down to Marcello Lippi; he had confidence in me," enthused Davids, who went on to become a key cog in a brilliant Bianconeri midfield.

  6. Samuel Eto'o

    Amid all of the controversy that continues to surround Zlatan Ibrahimovic's infamously unsuccessful transfer to Barcelona in 2009, it is often forgotten that Inter got Samuel Eto'o as part of the deal.

    Admittedly, it was no secret that Pep Guardiola had wanted rid of the Cameroonian from the moment he took charge at Camp Nou the year before but the Blaugrana's valuation of €20m beggars belief. 

    Eto'o, after all, was coming off the most prolific season of his career, netting 36 times in 52 appearances in Barca's treble-winning campaign. 

    What's worse is that he made a mockery of Guardiola's insinuation that he had an attitude problem by agreeing to play out wide in the Inter side that won the treble in his very first season at San Siro. 

    Eto'o even claims that Nerazzurri boss Jose Mourinho even allowed him to give a team talk before the Champions League final win over Bayern Munich: "I turned around after my speech and Julio Cesar was crying."

  7. Thierry Henry

    Carlo Ancelotti still feels that failing to realise that Thierry Henry could play as a forward was the greatest mistake of his coaching career. However, the Italian should not be held accountable for Juventus allowing arguably the greatest striker of his generation join Arsenal for €15.1m.

    After all, Ancelotti had wanted to hold on to Henry. It was Juve's directors who gave up on the flying Frenchman after just 16 appearances and six months at the club.

    They tried to use him as part of a deal to persuade Udinese to part company with Marcio Amoroso, which did not sit well with Henry.

    "I felt this was a lack of faith in me," he later confessed. "I refused the Udinese move but I asked to go somewhere else. They agreed."

    So, Henry joined Arsenal, where, under the tutelage of his former coach at Monaco, Arsene Wenger, the World Cup winner developed into a lethal attacker, even going on to smash the club's all-time goalscoring record.

  8. Claude Makelele

    Real Madrid president Florentino Perez felt he had pulled off a masterstroke in persuading Chelsea to hand over £16.8m for Claude Makelele in 2003. 

    "He wasn't a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres," the Spaniard sniped. "Younger players will arrive who will cause Makelele to be forgotten."

    Unfortunately for Perez, it didn't quite work out like that. Indeed, his ill-advised parting shot was never forgotten, as the loss of Makelele resulted in the complete collapse of Madrid's midfield.

    Perez had slammed the Frenchman for asking for half as much money as his compatriot Zinedine Zidane but, as Makelele proved at Chelsea, with whom he won two Premier League titles, he was actually worth far more than that.

    He revolutionised the role of a defensive midfielder in England, so much so in fact that his position became known as 'The Makelele role'!

  9. Andrea Pirlo

    Andrea Pirlo was on the books of Inter during one of the most turbulent periods of the club's history.

    Indeed, the Nerazzurri went through six coaches in just three years. "I'd wake up in the morning and I'd have forgotten who was training us," he later wrote in his autobiography.

    Despite a successful loan spell at Brescia, during which he was converted from a trequartista into a regista, Inter allowed him to join city rivals AC Milan for €18m in 2001.

    Pirlo blames then-coach Marco Tardelli for his departure, arguing that if his predecessor Marcello Lippi had not been sacked at the start of the season, he could have "become a legend there".

    Instead, he became a legend at AC Milan, winning two Scudetti and two Champions Leagues during his 10-year stint with San Siro's other side.

  10. Mohamed Salah

    Roma sporting director Monchi has been at pains to point out that the Italian club needed to raise money to buy other players last summer but, as one of the canniest operators in the transfer market, even the Spaniard was forced to concede: "I still think the fee could've been better for Salah."

    Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing but, even at the time, €42m looked like an absolute steal for one of the best players in Serie A.

    Liverpool certainly couldn't believe their luck when Roma named their asking price and shrewdly pushed the transfer over the line before the whole market went mad following Neymar's world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

    Of course, not even Jurgen Klopp could have imagined that Salah would be a Golden Shoe contender in his first season at Anfield, but the German coach knew that the winger had the requisite skills to shine in his side and, therefore, represented a bargain.

  11. Clarence Seedorf

    In March 2002, Clarence Seedorf scored the most thunderous double in Derby d'Italia history. Just over two months later, Inter swapped him for AC Milan full-back Francesco Coco.

    The latter was, at the time, a full-back of considerable potential but this was nonetheless an utterly bizarre deal.

    Seedorf had underperformed in his three years with Inter but he was a two-time Champions League winner, a truly gifted footballer who was outstanding on his day. He proved this as Milan, with whom he became the first man to lift the Champions League with three different clubs.

    Unfortunately, Coco's time at Inter was less successful. A back injury played its part but his commitment to the game was also called into question.

    Indeed, he participated in a reality TV show (Celebrity Island), tried his hand at acting and allegedly turned up for a trial at Manchester City smoking a cigarette, earning him the nickname 'Coco the Clown' in the English press.

  12. Wesley Sneijder

    "What happened with me was very strange," Wesley Sneijder said of his time at Real Madrid. "They treated me very badly."

    Essentially, in the summer of 2009, the Blancos smashed the world-record transfer fee twice to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

    The latter's arrival meant that Sneijder was no longer guaranteed a starting berth and that, coupled with the need to recoup some cash, prompted Madrid to sell Sneijder to Inter for €15m.

    That proved a costly mistake. Kaka flopped spectacularly at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Sneijder inspired Inter to a treble triumph in his first season at the Giuseppe Meazza.

  13. Jaap Stam

    Alex Ferguson is as ruthless as they come. Even the most loyal of servants were offloaded if the Scot felt - for whatever reason - their time at Old Trafford was up.

    However, Ferguson may have allowed anger to cloud his judgement when he decided to sell Jaap Stam to Lazio in 2001 after the Dutch centre-half released a book in which he claimed that the Manchester United boss had illegally tapped him up before his arrival from PSV three years earlier.

    It was a hasty decision that Fergie would come to regret, as Stam was so good at the Stadio Olimpico that he earned himself a move to AC Milan three years later.

    "At the time he had just come back from an Achilles injury and we thought he had just lost a little bit," the legendary Red Devils boss later explained.

    "We got the offer from Lazio, £16.5m for a centre back who was 29. It was an offer I couldn't refuse. 

    "But, in playing terms, it was a mistake."

  14. Carlos Tevez

    One can understand why Manchester City wanted rid of Carlos Tevez.

    The Argentine had caused uproar by allegedly refusing to come on as a substitute in a Champions League game at Bayern Munich - Tevez insisted it was a misunderstanding - while he was still carrying out community service for driving without a licence when eventually sold to Juventus in 2013.

    However, the £12m fee was ludicrously low for a forward of such considerable talent.

    Indeed, Tevez was a revelation in Turin, the prolific striker that Antonio Conte had long been craving, helping Juventus re-establish themselves as a major European force by reaching the Champions League final in 2015.

    He left that summer, to return to his beloved Boca Juniors, but did so as one of the finest No.10s in the Bianconeri's history.

    "Carlos is a world-class champion," enthused veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini.

  15. Yaya Toure

    There are two sides the story of Yaya Toure's €30m move from Barcelona to Manchester in 2010.

    The man himself claims that he was effectively forced out by then-Blaugrana boss Pep Guardiola.

    "He pretty much ignored me until City's offer came in," he midfielder claimed. "That's why I eventually opted to leave.

    "If he had talked to me, I would have stayed at Barcelona. I did not want to go and wanted to end my career at Barcelona."

    Guardiola, though, insisted: "The truth is that [Toure] asked Laporta to leave. We even tried to convince him to stay."

    Whatever the truth, Barca lost one of the most formidable midfielders in world football, with Toure going on to play a key part in Manchester City establishing themselves as the dominant force in English football.