Pogba, Lukaku and the players who returned to their former clubs

Suraj Radia
Suraj Radia 11 Jul 2022 10:39 BST 5 min read
Paul Pogba, Juventus

Paul Pogba has left Manchester United for the second time, returning to Juventus on a free transfer after a previous spell there from 2012 to 2016.

FootballTransfers takes a look at some of the other superstars who returned for second spells at their former clubs.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United and Juventus)

The man of the hour, the second-coming of Pogba was supposed to be a pivotal moment in Man Utd's transformation into title contenders under Jose Mourinho.

However, the World Cup winner's time in Manchester was overshadowed by injuries, attitude concerns and just poor form and he left the club having won just two trophies in six years. Pogba only averaged 25 league games a season in his second spell and scored 29 goals.

He returned to Juventus in the summer of 2022, hoping that his second spell at the club is just as successful as the first one where he won four Serie A titles and reached a Champions League final.

Dani Alves (Barcelona)

Dani Alves, Barcelona, 2021/22

Dani Alves established himself as the best right-back in the world during his first spell at Barcelona, winning 26 trophies across eight years before departing for Juventus in 2016.

And after five years away from the club, the Brazilian returned to Camp Nou at the age of 38 in 2021, playing 14 games before departing again for good.

Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Arguably the best striker in Chelsea's history, Didier Drogba won just about everything with the club in an eight-year spell after joining them for £24m in 2004.

And the Ivorian legend played a final year at Stamford Bridge following two years away from the club and scored four times under manager Jose Mourinho before finishing his career in America.

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea, 2021-22

Romelu Lukaku initially arrived at Stamford Bridge as an 18-year-old touted to be the long-term successor to Drogba but left after just three seasons, two of which were spent out on loan.

Following spells at Everton and Man Utd, Lukaku spent a prolific two seasons at Inter before returning to Chelsea in the summer of 2021 for a club record £98.5m.

However, the Belgian's first season back in London saw him fall out with boss Thomas Tuchel and only score eight times in the league, leading to him re-joining Inter on loan the following summer.

Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Thierry Henry's departure from Arsenal in 2007 always felt tragic after the Frenchman had been the focal point of their rise to the top under Arsene Wenger.

So when the club's greatest ever player returned for a two-month loan spell from New York Red Bulls in 2012, the short but sweet stint provided fans with a fond farewell, particularly after he scored on his second debut against Leeds.

The Frenchman's quick return saw him add two goals to his record Gunners total of 228 goals.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan, 2021-22

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a player who has achieved success wherever he has played and the legend re-joined Milan in 2019 at the age of 38 after leading them to their last Scudetto in 2012.

And the Swede repeated his magic in his second spell, scoring 33 goals in 60 games to once again bring the title back to Milan at the age of 40.

David Luiz (Chelsea)

David Luiz was more known for his eccentric playstyle and frizzy hair during his first spell at Chelsea after joining from Benfica in 2011.

However, the Brazilian became a crucial part of the Chelsea side that won the Champions League and moved to Paris Saint-Germain for £50m in 2014.

Luiz returned to West London two years later for £34m and won three more trophies in three years before joining Arsenal for £8m.

Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)

Nemanja Matic's first spell at Chelsea was unspectacular, with the Croatian one of the club's many loanees who ended up leaving before making an impact.

The midfielder ironically joined Benfica as part of the deal that brought Luiz to Chelsea and, after three seasons in Portugal, he too returned to Stamford Bridge for £21m.

Matic won two league titles in four years during his second spell at Chelsea before signing for Man Utd for £40m in 2017.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd, 2021/22

Yet another homecoming between Juventus and United, Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in the summer of 2021 after more than a decade away from the club.

The Portuguese legend built his name at United before leaving for Real Madrid in a world-record deal in 2009 and establishing himself as one of the best players in the world.

Ronaldo reportedly turned down Manchester City for a second spell at United and scored 18 times in a difficult first season back in England.

Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid)

After beginning his career at the club, Fernando Torres left Atletico Madrid as a 23-year-old before returning eight years later after a rollercoaster career.

The Spaniard spent time in England, winning a host of trophies before injuries took their toll, prompting Torres to wind down his career back where it started.

He spent four further seasons with Atletico, claiming the Europa League as his first major honour with the club before retiring in Japan.

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