A number of Irish internationals have changed clubs over the summer, though the fees involved have (for the most part) been relatively low compared to the extravagant nature of other deals.
Unless James McCarthy leaves Everton, Middlesbrough’s £5m capture of Darren Randolph could well end up being the most expensive Irish player of the summer. Indeed, the now-former West Ham goalkeeper has become the second most expensive Irish goalkeeper of all time with that Riverside move.
Looking at the most expensive Irish XI of all time, one thing is markedly clear – Irish defenders don’t move for big money anymore.
Shay Given – £6m (Newcastle – Manchester City, 2009)
Before Randolph’s move to Middlesbrough, Given had the record for the top three transfer fees paid for an Irish goalkeeper, but it is his £6m move to Man City in January 2009 that has him on top. The ex-Ireland international had an 18-month spell as City’s first-choice keeper before ultimately being usurped by Joe Hart.
Steve Finnan – £3.5m (Fulham – Liverpool, 2003)
Finnan was attracting attention from some of England’s big hitters due to his Fulham form, signing for Liverpool in a £3.5m deal in 2003. The Limerick native had five largely successful years at Anfield (including starting in the Champions League-winning final of 2005) before moving on to Spanish side Espanyol.
Richard Dunne – £5m (Manchester City – Aston Villa, 2009)
Manchester City’s transformation from mid-table Premier League team to cash-rich behemoths meant that the writing was on the wall for Dunne at Eastlands. Martin O’Neill brought him to Villa Park in 2009, though his time at the club (unfortunately for him) coincided with the start of their decline.
Ciaran Clark – £5m (Aston Villa – Newcastle United, 2016)
Clark struggled at times to break into the Aston Villa defence, but found a more regular slot at St. James’ Park following a £5m move last summer. Having established a partnership with Jamaal Lascelles, Rafa Benitez’s side were promoted from the Championship at the first attempt and this is likely to continue in the Premier League, though he faces competition from Grant Hanley and new signing Florian Lejeune.
Phil Babb – £3.6m (Coventry – Liverpool, 1994)
Though it might seem ridiculous given today’s figures, Liverpool made Babb the most expensive defender in British football history when they signed him from Coventry City for £3.6m in 1994. Big things were obviously expected of him at the time and although he spent six years at Anfield, it didn’t quite work out for him as he had hoped.
Damien Duff – £17m (Blackburn Rovers – Chelsea, 2003)
Duff was part of the Chelsea revolution in 2003, signing for the club in a summer that also saw the likes of Claude Makeleke and Hernan Crespo arrive. It was to be the following summer, however, when Duff formed a deadly attack with Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba under Jose Mourinho, that Duff really began to flourish.
Jeff Hendrick – £10.5m (Derby County – Burnley, 2016)
Hendrick joined Burnley from Derby County in a then-club record deal last summer, and while he has been relatively consistent at Turf Moor, he is still yet to recapture the form he showed for Ireland at Euro 2016. With his recent legal troubles now behind him, however, Martin O’Neill has backed him to return to his best and Sean Dyche wil undoubtedly concur.
James McCarthy – £13m (Wigan Athletic – Everton, 2013)
McCarthy followed manager Roberto Martinez to Wigan from Everton in 2013, and that first season at Goodison Park was massively positive; his performances were a major factor in the Toffees finishing fifth in the table. However, his form has suffered since then mainly as a result of injury. With the Everton midfield now stacked, manager Ronald Koeman may decide to part company with McCarthy if he gets a suitable offer.
Robbie Brady – £13m (Norwich City – Burnley, 2017)
Burnley saw off competition from several Premier League rivals to land Brady for a club record fee earlier this year. The winger’s inconsistent performances, however, have meant that his starting time at Turf Moor has been limited. With the Irish contingent growing due to Jon Walters’ suumer arrival, however, hopes are high that Brady can play a key role in Burnley’s ambition for the new season.
Robbie Keane – £19m (Tottenham Hotspur – Liverpool, 2008)
Keane earned a move to one of his twelve boyhood clubs in 2008 when he earned a move to Liverpool. However, the dream quickly soured and he found stars very hard to come by under Rafa Benitez at Anfield. So unsuccessful was his stint at the club that Benitez had no qualms about selling him back to Tottenham for a £7m loss just months after signing him.
Shane Long – £12m (Hull City – Southampton, 2014)
Despite the fact that Long was never the most prolific of Premier League strikers during his spells at Reading or Hull, but that didn’t seem to bother Southampton too much as they forked out £12m for the ex-Cork City man in 2014. The subsequent signings of Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini have moved Long down the pecking order slightly, and it remains to be seen how much of a role he will play under new Saints boss Manolo Gabbiadini.