Assessing Rafael Benitez's Most Expensive Signings Across All Clubs

With Newcastle (still) in the latter stages of a big-money takeover, Rafael Benitez is being heavily linked with a return to the potentially minted Magpies.

Despite his surprise move to China in the summer of 2019, the two-time UEFA Manager of the Year is still considered one of Europe's top head coaches and a master tactician, with more experience than almost anyone coaching right now.

But just how would Rafa handle a big budget on Tyneside?

A lack of funds was his key gripe with Newcastle last time around and with Benitez emerging as a leading candidate to reclaim the Newcastle job, we've taken a trip down memory lane, looking back at his most expensive signings across his former clubs and assessing their impact.


Fernando Torres: £26.5m from Atlético Madrid

Fernando Torres was perhaps Rafa Benitez's best ever signing

Benitez broke the bank for this one, splashing out a then-club record fee to bring Fernando Torres to Anfield and it's fair to say that he was worth every penny.

El Niño hit the ground running at Liverpool - scoring a debut strike against Chelsea - and swiftly developed into one of the world's most lethal goalscorers, scoring 65 times in 102 games and twice making the PFA Team of the Year.

The Reds were also able to make a sizeable profit when Torres departed for Chelsea for £50m in 2010, just after the injury issues that began to limit him as a player. Nailed it.

Rating: 10/10

Alberto Aquilani: £20m from Roma

Injury issues hampered Alberto Aquilani's Liverpool stint

Upon arrival at Liverpool, Aquilani was given the unfortunate task or filling the irreplaceable void left by Xabi Alonso in the summer of 2009.

The bar was ultimately set too high by his predecessor as the injury-riddled Aquilani failed to live up expectations. The midfielder managed just 18 Premier League appearances before being loaned back to Italy where he was eventually sold to Fiorentina for an undisclosed fee; though Liverpool are believed to have made a huge loss .

Liverpool's acquisition of Aquilani will forever be remembered as an complete blunder from Benitez and came to define the latter stages of his time at Anfield.

Rating: 2/10

Robbie Keane: £19m from Tottenham Hotspur

Robbie Keane struggled to settle at Liverpool

Lifelong Liverpool fan Robbie Keane joined the Reds in 2008, fulfilling one of many childhood dreams.

A welcome inclusion to the squad given his impressive goalscoring tally for Spurs, unfortunately Keane failed to make an impact at Anfield.

Though he did at least score seven times in his six-month spell, the Irishman often looked looked like a square peg in a round hole at Liverpool and was even overlooked in favour of an inexperienced David N'Gog on occasion.

Keane tallied more substitutions than goals for Liverpool and cartwheeled his way back to Spurs just half a season later in a cut-price deal.

Rating: 2/10

Javier Mascherano: £17.25m from West Ham

Javier Mascherano was sold to Barcelona in 2010 for around €24m

Arriving in England in the most curious of circumstances, Javier Mascherano set the controversy to one side and did his talking on the pitch. After impressing for West Ham, Mascherano made the move to Liverpool where he established himself as one of the world's best defensive midfielders.

Mascherano patrolled the the space in front of the back four like a pit bull. His ball-winning ability coupled with gritty determination saw him become a key player for the Reds.

An inspired signing from Benitez and Liverpool, who was also sold for profit.

Rating: 9/10


Gonzalo Higuain: £34.5m from Real Madrid

Gonzalo Higuain became one of Napoli's best ever strikers

Gonzalo Higuain's move to Napoli was a pretty extraordinary piece of business, with the Argentine hit man teaming up with Benitez in Naples.

Higuain instantly became a fan favourite, steering the club back into the Champions League, as part of a new golden era for the Partenopei.

His goals from the Argentine propelled the club into title contention as well as the latter stages of Europe and, in 2015/16, Higuain set a new Serie A record of 36 goals in a single season. That's about as good as it gets.

Though it came after Benitez's time, Higuain was also sold for a huge profit... albeit controversially.

Rating: 10/10

Manolo Gabbiadini: £11.5m from Sampdoria

Manolo Gabbiadini later struggled at Southampton

Coming up through the ranks at Atalanta before settling at Sampdoria, Gabbiadini was considered one of the hottest prospects in Italian football.

The versatile forward could play up front as well as on wing or behind the striker. He possessed excellent finishing ability and is known for having a wand of a left foot.

Life in Naples was tough as he just wasn't able to solidify a starting place with Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejón coming before him in the pecking order. The forward managed 25 goals in 79 appearances for Il Partenopei and was later sold to Southampton, where he briefly shone.

Rating: 5/10

Raul Albiol: £10.6m from Real Madrid

Raul Albiol was part of Spain's World Cup winning-team in 2010

Brought in from Real Madrid in 2013, Albiol swiftly settled into a first-team role in Naples. The commanding centre-back enjoyed six long seasons at the heart of defence for Napoli.

A reliable figure at the back, Albiol's experience at Real helped the team transition into a title challenging side, before being sold back to La Liga where he currently resides with Villarreal.

Rating: 8/10

Jorginho: £8.55m from Hellas Verona

Jorginho was brought to Napoli from Verona

Jorginho – now famously bossing Chelsea's midfield – made the career-defining move to Naples back in 2014 under Benitez.

The Spaniard spotted the Brazil-born Italy international when he was playing for Serie A minnows Verona, and the rest is history.

Having developed into a key player for Napoli – albeit only really blooming after Benitez left – Il Partenopei were able to take advantage of some great years before making a tidy profit on a sale to Chelsea.

Rating: 9/10

Real Madrid

Mateo Kovacic: £26.5m from Inter

Mateo Kovacic struggled to make an impact at Real Madrid

Signed in the summer of 2015 after an impressive spell with Inter, Mateo Kovacic made the glamorous move to Madrid.

An undeniable talent, Kovacic spent three years with Madrid, though never really got to showcase his best qualities. While the Croatian playmaker's form was erractic, his skill was undeniable and Madrid were reluctant to offload him.

Kovacic was eventually sold to Chelsea but will look back on his time in Madrid wondering what could have been.

Rating: 4/10

Danilo: £28m from Porto

Danilo signed for Man City in 2017 for around £26.5m

Arriving in Madrid off the back of an impressive stint with Porto, Danilo was offered considerable first-team football in his debut season for the club.

The Brazilian full-back just never really got going at Madrid, amid competition from Dani Carvajal and was unable to emulate the form that earned him the move in the first place.

Danilo spent just two seasons in Madrid before being sold to Manchester City in 2017 and is now at Juventus

Rating: 5/10


Miguel Almiron: £21m from Atlanta United

Miguel Almiron has so far failed to live up to the expectation

Paraguay international Miguel Almiron joined the Toon in January 2019 in what was a club-record fee, eclipsing the £16m they paid for Michael Owen in 2005.

Almiron boasted an impressive goalscoring record from midfield for Atlanta, with his story even drawing comparisons to the fictional Santiago Munez, though hasn't quite managed to reach he same level of efficiency in England.

With just two goals and one assist in 28 league games this season, Newcastle fans are still waiting for one of precious few big-money signings under Mike Ashley to come good.

Rating: 4/10

Jacob Murphy: £12m from Norwich

Jacob Murphy was a boyhood Newcastle fan

As Newcastle were promoted back up into the Premier League in 2017, promising youngster Jacob Murphy was signed to provide energy on the wing.

The weight of expectation was perhaps all too much for the boyhood Magpie.

Murphy managed just a single goal in 41 appearances before being sent out on loan. It remains to be seen whether the 25-year-old will be given another opportunity at Newcastle, who is enjoying a decent spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Rating: 2/10

Dwight Gayle: £10m from Crystal Palace

Dwight Gayle scored 23 goals in 2016/17 as Newcastle were promoted

In a bid to return to the Premier League following Newcaste's relegation in 2016, Benitez secured the services of Dwight Gayle to bolster his attacking options.

Gayle instantly repaid the faith put in him with 23 goals in 32 Championship appearances as Newcastle bounced straight back up.

Much like his experiences with Crystal Palace however, Gayle has found it difficult to replicate his Championship form in England's top flight and was sent back down on loan to West Brom.

Still, when he was needed, he produced.

Rating: 7/10

Source : 90min