Which seasons have seen the biggest exoduses of title-winning players - and what happened next?
Manchester United 2013-14
The largest exodus of title-winning players in Premier League history was at the end of David Moyes’ short-lived reign at Manchester United. The club’s all-time record appearance holder Ryan Giggs was followed out the door by three key members of the defence who had won the Champions League and five Premier League titles together.
To identify the clubs who have undertaken the biggest rebuilds, we have taken a look at the seasons where clubs moved on title-winning players with the largest number of combined appearances.
The Red Devils may have left it a year too late, falling from first in the league to seventh and failing to qualify for Europe as a result. The arrivals of Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria helped them return to the Champions League with a fourth-placed finish.
Since then, United are yet to recapture the league but have won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League, thanks in no small part to academy graduates like Rashford, Lingard and Pogba.
John Terry ended his glittering Chelsea career on a high, going out with the Premier League title. The same summer, a number of experienced players left with him.
The Blues dropped out of the Champions League places in the immediate aftermath of the shakeup but the rejuvenated squad, bolstered by Alvaro Morata and Antonio Rüdiger, went one better in the FA Cup
In the three seasons since, they have not finished outside of the top four and have added both major European trophies to their cabinet.
In the summer of 2006, Arsenal moved on five members of their ‘Invincibles’, each with over 100 appearances for the club. Thierry Henry stayed a further season but he was abandoned by Bergkamp and Pires, who had been his creative foil.
The Gunners stayed still in the league, extending their run of consecutive top four finishes to 11. They failed to recreate their run to the Champions League final though and are yet to reach this stage again.
Despite the arrival of a production line of star names, such as Alexis Sanchez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal have now gone 17 years without lifting the Premier League trophy.
Round of 16
Barcelona have been phasing out their golden generation in stages. Puyol and Valdes were amongst the first to leave in 2014 but Xavi stayed on for a further year, Iniesta lasted until 2018 and Messi is still going strong.
The club were not immediately shaken by the loss of their captain, winning only the second treble in their history. They remain the only Spanish club to win the league, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League (or European Cup) in the same season.
Barcelona have added a further three La Liga trophies to their cabinet but have not recaptured the Champions League since Xavi left. After their first league finish outside the top two for more than a decade, is another rebuild due?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema arrived in the summer of 2009. Whilst they shared striking duty with club legend Raul for a season, he passed on the torch a year later. Guti also left that summer, with the two youth system products having won every trophy there was to win.
After moving on their homegrown superstars, Los Blancos won the Copa del Rey for the first time in 18 years and reached the Champions League semi-final for the first time in eight attempts.
Real would have to wait a further three seasons to fulfil their ‘Decima’ dream and claim Europe’s top prize for the tenth time but the seeds were sown when they swapped Raul and Guti for Ronaldo and Benzema.
In 2019, Atletico Madrid moved on three defensive stalwarts who had each made more than 200 league appearances for the club. Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis made way for the likes of Trippier, Lodi and Felipe
The move didn’t have an immediate impact with the club faring slightly better in Europe but worse domestically
The following season showed the benefits of a defensive rebuild though, with Atleti winning their first league title in seven years.
Round of 32
Paolo Maldini and Andriy Shevchenko both played their last game for Milan in the 2-0 victory over Fiorentina on the final day of the 2008-09 season but the core of the team that had delivered two Champions League titles stayed on till the end of 2011-12, winning another league title along the way.
That same summer, Milan also cashed in on younger stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva in one of the biggest overhauls Serie A has ever seen. Performance in each of the major competitions was only slightly worse in 2012-13 than the season before so the move didn’t seem like a disaster
It is now almost 10 years since Gattuso and co departed and Milan have yet to recapture the Scudetto, the Champions League or the Coppa Italia
Inter Milan held on to their core of seasoned talent for longer than crosstown rivals but club legend Javier Zanetti finally hung up his boots in 2013-14. With their captain retiring, compatriots Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel and Diego Milito all decided to depart the San Siro.
The Nerazzurri had already watched their stock fall before their clutch of experienced Argentinians departed, finishing 9th in 2012-13 but the overhaul did little for their fortunes, finishing a limp 8th place in 2014-15 and bowing out of the Europa League in the quarter-finals
It took more than 10 years but Inter finally returned to the summit to the league last season under the stewardship of Antonio Conte, propelled by the goals of Romelu Lukaku.
Whilst the two Milan clubs struggled, Juventus swooped in and won a staggering nine consecutive titles. In 2017-18, they parted with several key players who brought them success, including captain Gianluigi Buffon.
The departure of Buffon, Marchisio and Lichtsteiner did little to slow down the Old Lady as they collected yet another league title.
Buffon’s supposedly permanent move to Paris ended up being little more than a holiday, as he returned to Turin the following season to collect his tenth Scudetto but last season finally saw Juve’s league dominance come to an end.
When Bayern failed to win the league for just the third time in 10 years in 2006-07 it was the cue for an exodus which saw the likes of Mehmet Scholl, Hasan Salihamidžić and Owen Hargreaves depart Bavaria.
The arrivals of Franck Ribery, Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose saw the FCB return to the summit of the league and deliver the fourth league and cup double in six seasons.
In the 13 seasons since, Bayern have won a further 10 league titles, six Pokals and two Champions League titles.
The last team to disrupt Bayern’s
league-winning run was Borussia Dortmund in 2011-12. Roman Weidenfeller, Nuri Şahin and Neven Subotić remained until 2019, when they were allowed to leave alongside newer recruits like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis.
The overhaul saw an immediate improvement in both the league and the Champions League, with Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus stepping up to fill the gap left by the leavers.
BVB held on to second spot in 2019-20 and their fifth Pokal followed in 2020-21, as new arrival Erling Haaland gave Westfalenstadion regulars real hope of further success.
Stuttgart’s 2007 Bundesliga title was the apex of a 10 year stint where they qualified for Europe on seven occasions. As they slipped to 15th in the league in 2013-14, it was time to search for fresh faces and the club moved on the long serving trio of Serdar Tasci, Arthur Boka and Cacau.
The emergence of Timo Werner from the club’s academy was a small bright spot for Stuttgart, as he became the youngest player to ever represent the Reds, but they struggled again to keep their head above water in the battle against relegation.
The following season, they finally succumbed to the drop and have been involved in a bizarre seesaw between Germany’s top two divisions since. An immediate return to the top flight was followed up with a seventh placed finish before being relegated for a second time. They returned at the first time of asking again and then finished 9th last season so who knows what is in store for 2021-22.
Laurent Blanc departed as Bordeaux manager in the summer of 2010 but the core of the squad which delivered the 2008-09 Ligue 1 title stayed on for one more year. 2011 saw long serving players such as Ulrich Rame and Fernando Menegazzo scatter to different parts of the globe.
There was a minor upturn in fortune immediately after the refresh, with Bordeaux qualifying for the Europa League and progressing further in the cup
The club from Gironde delivered the Coupe de France the following season but are yet to improve on the 5th placed finish of 2011-12 in the nine seasons since
After capturing their third title in a row in 2003-04, Lyon allowed several players who had each played at least 100 times for the club to depart all at once, including captain Patrick Muller and midfield dynamo Vikash Dhorassoo
Players such as Michael Essien and Mahamadou Diarra remained at the club, joined by the likes of Sylvain Wiltord, and delivered another league title the following season.
The initial overhaul was a great success, as the club went on to make it seven league titles in a row but they have since failed to breathe new life into the team, going 13 seasons without topping the league
Paris Saint-Germain ended the 19 year wait for their third Ligue 1 title in 2012-13 and immediately allowed a number of seasoned players to leave. Sylvain Armand, Mamadou Sakho and Guillaume Hoarau had all played more than 100 times for the club but were allowed to leave.
The rejuvenated Parisians delivered another league title the following season, aided by new arrivals Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos.
PSG have gone on to win five titles in the seven seasons since, managing to successfully replace the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lucas Moura with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.