Kalvin Phillips

Leeds United are one of the biggest and most well-supported clubs in England, with their successes in the 1960s and 1970s still fresh in the memory of the club’s devoted fanbase.

Recent years have seen them climb back to the sharp end of English football, with the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa helping eradicate years of Championship mediocrity.

Now back in the Premier League, Leeds are a force to be reckoned with once again. But, they haven’t regained their status at the top of the division, meaning their top players can be poached by their rivals.

FootballTransfers lists Leeds’ 10 most expensive departures.

=9. Alan Smith – £7m (Man Utd, 2004)

After progressing through the Leeds academy, Alan Smith scored on his his senior debut for the first-team against Liverpool aged just 18.

He helped Leeds reach the Champions League semi-final in 2001 and received England senior recognition that same year. He was, however, sent off in the aforementioned Champions league semi-final.

After consistently impressive performances for Leeds, Sir Alex Ferguson requested his signature and he joined Manchester United for £7 millioj in 2004.

Initially a forward, Smith was later converted into a holding midfielder by Ferguson following a broken leg and dislocated ankle, suffered against Liverpool.

=9. Robbie Keane – £7m (Tottenham, 2002)

Alongside Smith in joint ninth place is former Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane.

The Wolves academy graduate spent time in Italy with Inter Milan in the late 1990s and was signed by Leeds from the San Siro giants for £11m in 2001.

However, he lasted just one year at Leeds before being sold to Tottenham for a slight loss. Keane netted 18 goals in 55 games during his sole campaign at Elland Road.

8. Fabian Delph – £8m (Aston Villa, 2009)

Another graduate of the Leeds academy, Fabian Delph broke onto the professional scene in 2007, but it wasn’t until over a year later than he began playing regularly.

Once he was thrust into the starting XI, however, he didn’t look back. Arsene Wenger took interest in the Englishman, while Newcastle had a bid knocked back.

However, when Aston Villa came in with £8m in 2009, Leeds couldn’t say no. He left the club with over 50 games for his boyhood club under his belt.

Delph eventually joined Manchester City and became a Premier League champion.

7. Jonathan Woodgate – £9m (Newcastle, 2003)

One of very few British players to feature for Real Madrid, Jonathan Woodgate was at Leeds before he touched down in Spain.

The Englishman was another product of the impressive youth system at Leeds, and notched up over 100 appearances for the club before he was sold to Newcastle.

Injury problems caught up with him, however, and his subsequent time at Real Madrid was punctured by extended periods on the treatment table.

6. Jack Clarke – £10m (Tottenham, 2019)

Yet another Leeds academy star, Jack Clarke, was also moved on for a fair whack he joined Tottenham in 2019.

Clarke signed for the North London club after four goal contributions in 22 Championship games during the 2018/19 campaign.

However, his move to Spurs hasn’t worked out. After being loaned back to Leeds for six months, Clarke has since been out on loan a further three times, with the most recent to Sunderland for the 2021/22 season.

His first three years at Tottenham yielded just four first-team appearances, and his contract is into its final year.

5. Ross McCormack – £11m (Fulham, 2014)

A move that shocked the Championship, Ross McCormack reportedly demanded to leave Leeds in order to join Fulham in 2014.

The Yorkshire side obliged, selling their star for £11m to Craven Cottage. The Scottish forward had contributed 69 goals and assisted in just over 150 games, and continued that fine form at Fulham.

However, upon joining Aston Villa in 2016, McCormacks’ career took a turn, spending time on loan four separate times before leaving as a free agent in 2019.

4. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – £12m (Atletico Madrid, 1999)

One of the most clinical strikers of his era, Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink made the move from Leeds to Atletico Madrid in 1999 to become the club’s record sale at the time.

After being signed from Boavista in Portugal in 1997, Hasselbaink netted 47 goals in 87 games in all competitions for Leeds, and won the 1998/99 Premier League Golden Boot.

He was sold to Atleti in 1999 before returning to England with Chelsea.

3. Chris Wood – £15m (Burnley, 2017)

Chris Wood spent two years at Leeds following his move from Leicester City, establishing himself as one of the Championship’s deadliest marksmen.

He scored 44 goals in 88 Leeds games, including 30 during his final season at the club. That form earned him a move to Premier League side Burnley, who broke there own transfer record to sign the New Zealand international.

Wood joined Newcastle from Burnley in 2022 as the Clarets turned a nice profit on the player.

2. Rio Ferdinand – £30m (Man Utd, 2002)

The man who topped the list for 20 years, Rio Ferdinand, now features second on this list. The English defender had been signed from boyhood club West Ham just two years prior, but his performances for Leeds caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson and Man Utd.

Ferdinand had already become the world’s most expensive defender when Leeds signed him in 2000, and he broke his own record when he left Leeds after 72 appearances for the club. The move was also a British transfer record, but it was just shy of the £35m Leeds had reportedly wanted.

1. Kalvin Phillips – £45m (Man City, 2022)

Ferdinand’s long-standing record was finally ousted by Kalvin Phillips in the 2022 summer transfer window.

Just like many on this list, Phillips came through the Leeds academy and was a consistent performer under Marcelo Bielsa for many years, making over 200 appearances for the club.

Phillips earned international recognition following his outstanding form in the white shirt of Leeds and won England’s ‘Men’s Player of the Year’ award for 2021.

He was sold to Premier League champions Manchester City for £45m in 2022.


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