Top 10 Most Expensive Football Managers: Record-Breaking Transfers and Fees

Liverpool have their Jurgen Klopp successor in Arne Slot, and a cynic may say it was a cost-saver. The Dutchman arrives from Feyenoord as KNVB Cup winner and former Eredivisie champion and is highly sought-after having admitted that he rejected Tottenham Hotspur last summer. Yet despite that, there’s reason for Liverpool fans to feel a certain level of disappointment, given what it looked like was on offer this summer. When Klopp announced his departure after nine years in January, it appeared to be perfect timing, with club legend Xabi Alonso absolutely flying at Bayer Leverkusen. Carlo Ancelotti had just signed a new deal at Real Madrid, and a pathway was very clearly open for the former Reds midfielder to return to Anfield. He crushed those dreams by committing to Leverkusen in March, later leading the side to a first-ever Bundesliga title, and an unprecedented unbeaten campaign. The obvious choice then appeared to be Ruben Amorim, Sporting CP’s coaching sensation and the man who ended their 19-year title drought in 2021 before adding another in 2023/24. However, despite an embarrassingly public trip to London to talk with Liverpool and West Ham, Amorim ended up staying, and when looking at’s list of the highest fees paid for managers, the reasoning for Liverpool’s decision starts to become far clearer...

Maurizio Sarri

10. Maurizio Sarri, Napoli to Chelsea, £5m

Having achieved everything as Chelsea owner, including finally winning the Champions League in 2012, Roman Abramovich’s next goal was to try and do it with style. Associated with defensive ‘win at all costs’ football, Abramovich clearly bought the hype coming over from Europe with Napoli thrilling Italy and the continent with their high-intensity ‘Sarriball’. Napoli fell just short of winning Serie A in 2018, but Chelsea were convinced enough to pay £5m for their manager. Sarri won his first professional trophy, the Europa League in 2019, and won over a lot of the fanbase as a classy operator, but he only lasted a single season.

Jose mourinho

9. Jose Mourinho, Porto to Chelsea, £5.2m

This isn’t the first time Mourinho will make this list, and it’s also not the first time a Porto move to Chelsea will enter either. In 2004 a new-monied Chelsea side paid Porto £5.2m for their Champions League winning coach and the rest was history. Mourinho would go on to redefine the club, winning two Premier League titles and an FA Cup during his first stint. He fell short in the Champions League, but is now forever synonymous with Stamford Bridge and the start of their trophy-winning era.

Adi Huetter

8. Adi Hutter, Eintracht Frankfurt to Borussia Monchengladbach, £6.5m

One of the more bizarre deals to make the list but one that benefits from inflation, Hutter’s move to Gladach in 2021 may not have been deemed super costly compared to what’s spent on players. However, the £6.5m paid to get him out of a recently upgraded Frankfurt contract proved to be rather pointless, with his contract terminated after a single season. The Austrian is now at Ligue 1 side Monaco.

Jose mourinho

7. Jose Mourinho, Inter Milan to Real Madrid, £6.9m

Showing the undeniable scale of Real Madrid as arguably the biggest club team in world sport, Madrid managed to snare Mourinho from Inter in 2010 after he’d just guided the Italian side to an unprecedented European treble. He wasn’t cheap, though, with the deal worth a reported £6.9m for Madrid president Florentino Perez. Mourinho spent three seasons in the Spanish capital, yet despite winning LaLiga and a Copa del Rey, rivals Barcelona were far more dominant during his stint.

Ruben Amorim

6. Ruben Amorim, Braga to Sporting CP, £8.6m

One of the most famous deals in Portuguese football history, Sporing paid a league record £8.6m for Amorim from Braga in 2020, and it was seen as a monumental risk for a club whose finances are incomparable to rivals Benfica and Porto. Amorim had managed just four months of professional football, but in that time he’d beaten all of the big three, won the Taca da Liga and had an astonishing win rate. Sporting’s plunge turned out to be one of the greatest decisions in their history, with Amorim landing a first league title in 19 years in 2021, before adding another in 2024. They’re certain to make a gigantic profit when Amorim does eventually leave, with a release clause reportedly above £20m, which could see him top this list.

Brendan Rodgers

5. Brendan Rodgers, Celtic to Leicester, £8.8m

Narrowly missing out on the Premier League title in 2014 with Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers’ reputation was quickly in tatters with a disastrous transfer window that summer that saw the David Brent memes come flying in. Joining Celtic a year later, he restored his cachet with back-to-back trebles in Scotland, he then tarnished that by leaving mid-season in 2019 to join Leicester. That’s not to say Celtic didn’t get a good deal though, in fact, they got the fifth best in history. The Foxes had to pay £8.8m to relieve Rodgers from his contract, and he went on to reward them with an FA Cup and Community Shield in 2021, but he then steered them back into the Championship in 2023.

Arne Slot

4. Arne Slot, Feyenoord to Liverpool, £11m

A new entry into this list, the fee Liverpool paid Feyenoord for Arne Slot makes him the fourth-most expensive manager signing of all time. It’s very likely that the Reds would have had to pay far more for Alonso or Amorim, with the latter’s Sporting release clause potentially topping this list. However, Slot was not cheap, particularly when you consider his Feyenoord deal was set to expire next summer when he would be available as a free agent. The Eredivisie side clearly knew they had something special, though, inserting a hefty fee in Slot’s 2022 contract extension after he’d taken the Rotterdam side to the Europa Conference League final. He would reward their faith by winning the Eredivisie the following year, and then pocketing them a huge profit upon departing for Merseyside.

Andre Villas-Boas

3. Andre Villas-Boas, Porto to Chelsea, £13.5m

One of several big Chelsea deals, Andre Villas-Boas would be near the top of this list with inflation adjusted. The Portuguese phenomenon joined the Blues in 2011 from FC Porto after winning a European treble with his boyhood side. Heralded as ‘the next Mourinho’ due to his nationality and club history, it proved to be a very lazy comparison, with Villas-Boas failing to master a dressing room full of leaders like his countryman did so well. Instead, he lasted just eight months at Stamford Bridge being replaced by Roberto Di Matteo, who would then win the Champions League with his squad.

Graham Potter

2. Graham Potter, Brighton to Chelsea, £21.5m

When Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital arrived at Stamford Bridge in May 2022, they purchased a side that had just won the Champions League. Not only that, but the man who masterminded their success, Thomas Tuchel, was being roundly applauded for his class in dealing with the departure of former owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Yet despite Tuchel looking like the hero Chelsea needed, Boehly and Co cut ties in September as they wanted their own man. Like many of their transfer dealings, they looked to Brighton and brought in Graham Potter. Things never worked, though, and Potter lasted just seven months of his five-year deal, resulting in his April sacking. That pay-off likely would have been hefty, with Chelsea forking out £21.5m to get him out of his Brighton contract, an eye-watering fee just short of the all-time record.

Julian Nagelsmann

1. Julian Nagelsmann, Leipzig to Bayern Munich, £21.7m

Julian Nagelsmann’s ‘youngest-ever’ records are astonishing - from the youngest to coach in the Bundesliga and Champions League, to the youngest to win in either competition, reach the semi-finals of the latter, and become a title winner in the former. Hired by Hoffenheim in 2015 aged just 28, Nagelsmann took the village side from the relegation zone to fourth place and the Champions League qualifiers, later leaving for Leipzig in 2019 where he led the Red Bull-owned outfit to the semi-finals of club football’s premier competition. Constant flirtations with Bayern in the media meant the inevitable would happen sooner or later, but when it finally did in 2021, it wasn’t cheap. Bayern had to pay a world record £21.7m for Nagelsmann, and he repaid them by winning two DFL Super Cups and a Bundesliga title. However, in March 2023 he was sacked. The men responsible for that decision, CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić, have since also lost their jobs, and Bayern were left red-faced when they tried to re-hire Nagelsmann in April, only for him to extend his contract as manager of the Germany national team. Ouch.