Swedish defender Victor Lindelof was one of the first major transfers this summer by the Premier League giants. He was signed by Manchester United from Portugese side Benfica after a fee of 30 million pounds (or about 40 million dollars) was agreed between the two clubs.
While United has also signed former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and other top Premier League clubs have made big signings like Alexandre Lacazette moving to Arsenal or Mohammed Salah moving to Liverpool, Lindelof’s transfer stands out as the most impactful of them all for a very unique reason.
The money generated from the sale has saved Lindelof’s former club in Sweden.
Via The Independent comes the remarkable story of Vasteras SK, a club in the third tier of Swedish soccer. Vasteras originally sold Lindelof to Benfica in 2011 when he was just 17 years old and also negotiated a clause in the transfer that they would receive a portion of any future sale of the player. When Lindelof was sold to Manchester United, the funds that went back to Vasteras saved them from the brink of bankruptcy:
The money received for the defender could not have come at a better time for the club, who were recently teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The Lindelof cash solved most of those issues, but Liffner said she had already earmarked some of the proceeds for youth development.
“We have said that we want to build an academy. What does that cost per year? We can put aside that much in a special account that can only be used for that,” the 66-year-old former economist said.
The sale of Lindelof to Benfica initially gave Vasteras money in three tranches of €100,000 – first a transfer fee, then another when he played his third under-21 match for Sweden. The third was when he had played 10 senior games for the Portuguese team.
But the real value for Vasteras was a clause that would give them 20 percent of any future transfer fee, and with Lindelof catching the eye of big European clubs, Benfica sought to renegotiate.
Had the original contract stood they would have received seven million of the €35 million United paid Benfica for the 22-year-old, but even though they had to settle for less, the club were still happy.
Add-on fees are pretty common in the world of soccer transfers, especially for teams and players that might be farther down the world soccer food chain. If you’re a selling club (think everyone outside of the regular Champions League participants) it ensures a future line of funds from players that can develop and then move on to a more prestigious club. It’s a way for the original club to cash in a second time on a player’s value. Even though Benfica is one of the biggest clubs in Portugal and a regular Champions League participant, it’s a huge step up in funds to Manchester United.
With Lindelof being signed for such a small fee originally, Benfica probably thought at the time that the Swedish defender’s next sale wouldn’t be for such a significant price, which is why they were so desperate to go back to the negotiating table.
With add-ons, the buying club has to give up some of their future profit, but it’s a way to reduce the initial cost. There of course is some risk as in Lindelof’s case, it can provide the original club with a much bigger payday than agreeing to a transfer fee that comes upfront. For a third division team in Sweden, any chunk of change from a $40 million sale can be a life-changer.