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Griezmann, Lukaku, Ronaldo, and Soccer’s Summer of Homecomings

Last Updated: April 18, 2023
In a transfer window like no other, Antoine Griezmann’s Atlético Madrid reunion is yet another example of a star footballer returning to a high-profile former club.

Antoine Griezmann’s return to Atlético Madrid on transfer deadline day via loan completes the hat trick of global football superstars returning to their former clubs on significant deals. He rounds out a list that includes Romelu Lukaku, who reunited with Chelsea after eight years away, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s back at Manchester United for the first time since 2009.

That’s a curious number of homecomings from such elite-level players all in the same transfer window.

But with FC Barcelona desperately needing to lower its wage bill and Griezmann earning a reported $36.4 million per year on a contract that runs through 2024, it made more than a little sense for the 30-year-old forward to return for Atlético on loan through the end of the 2021-22 season.

Interestingly, the deal includes a $47.23 million option to buy next summer, and it’s good business for the club — it’s noticeably less than the$59.4 million they paid Real Sociedad for Griezmann’s services seven years ago.

After scoring 20 goals and dishing out 13 assists for Barça in 51 games across all competitions last season, the French international will return to a club where he scored 133 goals over five seasons and keyed a run to the 2016 UEFA Champion League final, a 2018 Europa League title, and a 2018 European SuperCup win over Spanish rivals Real Madrid.

Atlético not only gets Griezmann back to help the club in its La Liga title defense; they can also proclaim to have done some strong financial business — they sold him toBarça for $132 million just two years ago.

That got us thinking: How did Chelsea fare financially in, buying, selling, and rebuying Lukaku? Likewise, how does Man United’s Ronaldo balance sheet look since he was first brought over from Portugal 18 years ago?

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Here’s a quick guide to the business behind this summer’s transfer reunions, with all numbers courtesy of Transfermarkt:

Atlético // Griezmann

July 2014: Sold by Real Sociedad to Atlético Madrid for $59.4 million

July 2019: Sold byAtlético Madrid to Barcelona for $132 million

Aug. 2021: Loaned by Barcelona to Atletico Madrid with a $47.235 million option to buy

Verdict: If Atlético exercises the option, they will have made $25.365 million on Griezmann

Man Utd. // Ronaldo

Aug. 2003: Sold by Sporting CP to Manchester United for $20.9 million

July 2009: Sold by Manchester United to Real Madrid for $103.4 million

Aug. 2021: Sold by Juventus to Manchester United for $16.5 million

Verdict: Man United made at least $66 million on Ronaldo (earned an undisclosed training compensation fee when Real Madrid sold him to Juventus in 2018)

Chelsea // Lukaku

Aug. 2011: Sold by Anderlecht to Chelsea for $16.5 million

Sept. 2013: Loaned by Chelsea to Everton: $3.85 million

Aug. 2014: Sold by Chelsea to Everton for $38.9 million

Aug. 2021: Sold by Inter Milan to Chelsea in August 2021: $126.5 million

Verdict: Chelsea lost $87.6 million on Lukaku

You can go home again, folks. And if you’re willing to be patient, you may even get your man for less than you sold him for in the first place.

Don’t weep for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, though. He may have taken a loss on Lukaku of nearly $88 million, but when you’re estimated to be worth $14.6 billion, you can afford to splurge every now and then.

About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.