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The Most Expensive ‘Irish XI’ Of All Time Throws Up A Few Surprises

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 09: Robbie Keane of Liverpool looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between PSV Eindhoven and Liverpool at the Philips Stadium on December 9, 2008 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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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)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Shay Given of Manchester City gives his team mates instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Manchester City at St. Andrews Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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)

Steve Finnan (L) of Liverpool clears the ball from Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier league football match at Anfield, Liverpool, north-west, England, 07 October, 2007. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES Mobile and website use of domestic English football pictures are subject to obtaining a Photographic End User Licence from Football DataCo Ltd Tel : +44 (0) 207 864 9121 or e-mail - applies to Premier and Football League matches. (Photo credit should read ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

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)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21: Richard Dunne of Aston VIlla in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at White Hart Lane on November 21, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

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)

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Ciaran Clark of Newcastle United during the EFL Cup match between Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James' Park on September 20, 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images)

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)

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Chelsea's Damien Duff celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1 against Manchester United during their Carling Cup semi-final second leg football match at Old Trafford in Manchester 26 January 2005. AFP photo by Paul Barker (Photo credit should read PAUL BARKER/AFP/Getty Images)

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)

Burnley's Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Bournemouth at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on December 10, 2016. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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)

WATFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 09: James McCarthy of Everton celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on April 9, 2016 in Watford, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Robbie Brady of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on February 12, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

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)

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 09: Robbie Keane of Liverpool looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between PSV Eindhoven and Liverpool at the Philips Stadium on December 9, 2008 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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)

during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Aston Villa at St Mary's Stadium on May 16, 2015 in Southampton, England.

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.

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