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Why the van Aanholt deal may not be worth as much as you think; Chelsea will likely get a cut

The imminent sale of Patrick van Aanholt for a fee rising to £14m looks to be a pretty decent piece of business based on the simple economics of it; a nominal fee paid just thirty months ago has seen a healthy profit turned for Sunderland. But, it isn't quite as straightforward as that. Chelsea - from whom the Dutch left-back was bought - will be in for a cut, but how much?

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

'£14m is a great return and a tidy profit for Sunderland'

Most observers, either of a casual or a fervent red-and-white persuasion have concluded that the sale of Patrick van Aanholt to Crystal Palace for a reported fee rising to £14m represents - in economic terms at least - a pretty decent bit of business for Sunderland and a tidy return on a player who cost next-to-nothing just thirty months ago.

And they would be correct, but it isn't quite that straight forward; nor is quite as much profit as you might think.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League
Patrick van Aanholt celebrating what would be his final goal for Sunderland against Watford in December
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Sunderland signed Patrick van Aanholt in the summer of 2014 for a fee thought to be worth around £1.6m. So, on the face of it a sale of £14m is a great piece of business. After all, it's a lot of money for a club without a penny to spare; but it's not quite as profitable as all that - because someone still stands to get their share of the fee.

Van Aanholt's early career followed a fairly typical path, well-trodden by many youngsters who have been schooled at Chelsea. The Dutchman spent five years at Stamford Bridge before he joined Sunderland. He had been snapped up at the age of 19 by the hoover-like Blues' youth set-up. The Chelsea academy - with huge resources at its disposal - spreads tentacles across the globe beckoning in the world's young footballing talent.

But after loan spells at five different clubs, South London talent-chiefs concluded that van Aanholt - at the age of 23-years-old - would never quite make the grade at Chelsea. And with Sunderland needing a left-back to replace Marcos Alonso, who had impressed during his season-long spell on Wearside, the deal made sense to all parties.

Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League
Marcus Alonso is now with Chelsea having spent the 2013-14 season at Sunderland; Patrick van Aanholt was signed as his successor
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Most observers of a blue persuasion had concluded van Aanholt was a talented footballer - exciting going forward - but lacking the defensive nous required to make it at the club which had last won the title three years earlier and which was trying to build a team which could again compete for the Premier League crown.

Chelsea v Manchester City - FA Youth Cup Final
Patrick van Aanholt playing for Chelsea during the 2003 FA Youth Cup final
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

So, van Aanholt was sold to Gus Poyet's Sunderland for a nominal fee and was the Uruguayan's third incoming deal during the summer of 2014, hot on the heels of Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon, and he would be followed by the big-money marquee signing of Jack Rodwell and, a little later still, by winger Will Buckley.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Premier League
Van Aanholt's third Premier League appearance for Sunderland against QPR in 2014

Except, Chelsea don't tend to just do business like that. Nominal fees for young players do not tend to be agreed without a catch - a catch-all in fact - to minimise any future risk that the footballer who has just been sold might yet be a late developer.

Mitigating measures are included in player sales to ensure that if the young footballer somehow does become worth a fortune later in their career, at least that fright doesn't return to haunt the wallet of Mr Abramovich at some non-determined point in the future.

So a sell-on clause was inserted in the deal. And as we understand it, this was certainly the case in Sunderland's purchase of van Aanholt. Chelsea will expect - and receive - a percentage of the sale of the player once it is confirmed. There's zero chance the Blues let van Aanholt leave for £1.6m without a sell-on agreement of that nature having been wrapped up as part of the deal.

And our source closer to the millionaires of Chelsea than we could ever be, informs us that figure equates to 30% of any sale of Patrick van Aanholt. So knock three million quid off the nine million figure. Decent, but maybe not quite as decent as we had all first thought.

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