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Leeds United's transfer disaster: Paying millions for minimal playtime

12. April 2024
Jean-Kévin Augustin (foto: Getty Images)
Leeds United, once a hopeful Championship side with Premier League aspirations, made what has been labeled as perhaps the most disastrous transfer deal in football history.

The saga surrounding French striker Jean-Kévin Augustin has left the club facing a staggering financial setback, which could have long-lasting implications.   

In January 2020, Leeds United, under the management of Marcelo Bielsa, sought to bolster their attacking options to secure promotion to the Premier League. They signed Jean-Kévin Augustin on loan from RB Leipzig with an obligation to buy for €21 million, contingent on their promotion. Leeds achieved promotion, triggering the costly clause.   

However, Augustin's stint at Leeds was short-lived and underwhelming, totaling just 48 minutes over three substitute appearances. His lack of impact, combined with fitness issues, led Leeds to believe they had made a grave error. As the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the season, Leeds argued that the disruption voided their obligation to purchase Augustin permanently.   

FIFA initially dismissed Leeds' appeal, leading to a settlement where Leeds agreed to pay RB Leipzig €18 million in compensation. The ordeal seemed resolved until Augustin, whose career had dwindled into obscurity, claimed the entirety of the wages from his five-year contract, approximately €28.6 million.   

In a final blow to Leeds, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected Leeds' final appeal, mandating the club to fulfill their financial obligations to Augustin. The total cost to Leeds, including transfer fees, wages, and additional penalties, is now projected at around €47 million – nearly a million euros for every minute Augustin played.   

Jean-Kévin Augustin currently plays for FC Basel in Switzerland, where he has scored only three goals in 22 appearances this season, with his market value plummeting to a mere €500,000.

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