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Ranking every transfer over €100m

Argentinian midfielder Enzo Fernandez joined Chelsea in a deal worth an estimated €120 million on January 31.

In the process, the Blues smashed the British transfer record. Meanwhile, Fernandez became the 13th player to break the nine-figure mark.

In theory, the most expensive players should be the best. However, football rarely works like that.

How will Fernandez fare at Stamford Bridge? We’ll just have to wait and see, but here is our ranking of every €100m+ signing in football history.

12) Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, €115m, 2019-present)

After seven spectacular years at Chelsea, Eden Hazard made his dream switch to Real Madrid. As one of the world’s very best players at the time, it seemed to be an almost foolproof transfer.

However, the Belgian’s three-and-a-half years at the Bernabeu have not gone as planned. A series of injuries and poor form have led to a sharp decline, to the point where he is almost unrecognisable from his Premier League days. In his 73 appearances for Los Blancos, he has found the net just seven times.

Nowadays, he struggles for regular minutes, starting just three matches all season. With the much younger options of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo ahead of him in the pecking order, it’s difficult to see any salvation for Hazard at Real Madrid.

11) Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, €135m, 2018-2022)

With Neymar departing six months earlier, and Andres Iniesta set to leave at the end of the season, Barcelona turned to Philippe Coutinho in January 2018 to fill the void. And, after an encouraging start to life in Spain, he seemed to be a shrewd purchase.

But he wasn’t able to push on from this and soon found himself out of favour at Camp Nou. He was later loaned out to Bayern Munich, where his most notable contribution was a brace in the Champions League against…Barcelona. Eventually, the Brazilian was sold to Aston Villa for a fraction of his original fee.

The deal turned out far greater for Liverpool, who used his sale to fund the signings of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson. The pair played a huge part in the Reds’ Champions League and Premier League triumphs.

10) Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea, €113m, 2021-present)

Before Fernandez came in, Romelu Lukaku was Chelsea’s record signing. The midfielder won’t have to do much to out-perform the Belgian.

Lukaku kicked off his return to Stamford Bridge with a flying debut away to Arsenal. Unfortunately, this was the peak of his Chelsea career, as he soon petered out before being loaned back to Inter Milan.

His most memorable moment for the Blues came off the pitch in a controversial interview with Sky Italy. In that interview, he slammed manager Thomas Tuchel and bemoaned his situation at the club.

As of now, Lukaku is still on Chelsea’s books. Given how much they’re lacking up front, there may be a slight chance of redemption.

9) Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, €127m, 2019-present)

In the summer transfer window of 2019, Atletico Madrid took a huge gamble on Joao Felix. The Portuguese became the club’s record signing, costing over €50m more than their previous record holder. At the time, he had been playing senior football for less than a year.

His time at Los Rojiblancos has been heavily mixed. There have been times when he’s looked very promising, but he has been unable to make the step up to the next level. Although he is still just 23, so he has plenty of time remaining.

However, it is unlikely that he will do so at Atletico. Felix was loaned out to Chelsea this January following a reported feud with manager Diego Simeone. He is expected to leave permanently next summer.

8) Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, €120m, 2019-2022)

Felix was brought to the Wanda Metropolitano as a replacement for Antoine Griezmann. The World Cup winner was the next man tasked with replacing Neymar.

A lot is made of Griezmann’s time at Barcelona. In truth, he was okay, but far from the standard expected of him. His personal highlight came in the 2021 Copa del Rey final, as he netted the opener to help La Blaugrana to their only trophy from the last three years.

The Frenchman returned to Atletico Madrid in 2021, initially on loan before rejoining permanently. He is now starting to recapture his best form.

7) Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, €105m, 2016-2022)

Paul Pogba’s time at Manchester United was one of the most talked-about subjects in English football. Every week, it seemed as if the midfielder was the topic of debate.

Some people claim he was a huge disappointment; others believe that he was let down by the club. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle – he didn’t meet the expectations of a then-world record signing, but the Red Devils often looked like a better team with him in the side. Had they built the correct environment, he may have flourished.

After six years, Pogba went back to Juventus on a free transfer. He departed Old Trafford with a Carabao Cup and a Europa League to his name.

6) Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, €117m, 2021-present)

If anything illustrates the point that spending big isn’t a guarantee of success, it’s the fact that Jack Grealish has ended up sixth on this list.

When Manchester City opted to splash out a club record for the Aston Villa man, many raised an eyebrow – especially given that they didn’t have any senior strikers on their books at the time.

The Englishman is widely regarded as a flop, but is that a fair assertion? He certainly hasn’t delivered €117m worth of service, but he also hasn’t been awful. Like the previous two, he’s been alright.

Grealish still has time to make an impact at the Etihad Stadium. He has looked impressive in recent weeks and could turn things around if he maintains this form.

5) Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, €140m, 2017-present)

If we had written this a year ago, Ousmane Dembele would have been way further down the list. However, he has since managed to revive his career at Barcelona and is now one of their standout players.

His first few years were marred by injuries and inconsistency. He’d often show glimpses of promise, but these were few and far between.

But last season, the Frenchman started to reach the levels expected of him, ending the campaign as La Liga’s top creator with 13 assists. He has carried this into the current season with eight goals and seven assists in all competitions.

4) Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus, €117m, 2018-2021)

At 33 years of age, Cristiano Ronaldo became by far the most expensive player in their 30s. Juventus were not expecting any meaningful return on the fee they paid for him, but that wasn’t the point. The objective was simple: win the Champions League.

The Bianconeri were dominant domestically, winning seven Seria A titles and four Coppas Italia on the spin. They came close to European glory in 2015 and 2017 but just fell short.

In Ronaldo’s three years at the Allianz Stadium, Juventus won two league titles and one Coppa Italia, while failing to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League. On this basis, you could argue that the signing was a failure.

On the other hand, there is no denying that Ronaldo was brilliant as an individual. He netted 101 goals in 134 appearances for the Old Lady, winning one Serie A Golden Boot.

3) Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, €222m, 2017-present)

Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain goes in a similar category to Ronaldo. On the whole, he has helped his club win a bunch of things they had already won several times over.

But there are a couple of things that tilt the scales in his favour. He’s been at PSG longer, is still playing to a very high level, and could be sold for a much better price if they decide to cash in.

When fit, the Brazilian remains one of the world’s best players. He has hit 117 goals for Les Parisiens, making him their fourth-top scorer in history.

2) Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain, €180m, 2017-present)

The summer of 2017 was a wild one for PSG. Weeks after making Neymar the most expensive footballer ever, they poached Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal with an option to buy for €180m.

Since then, he’s gone on to be arguably the best player in the world. He has netted a phenomenal 196 goals in 243 appearances, taking him just four short of Edinson Cavani’s record for PSG.

If he helps the club to a first-ever Champions League trophy, he will jump to the number one spot. But until then, he remains in second.

1) Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, €101m, 2013-2022)

The first ever nine-figure player was Gareth Bale in 2013. Almost ten years on, no one has been able to outdo him.

Bizarrely, Bale’s relationship with the Madrid fans was turbulent to say the least. However, you can’t argue with what he did on the pitch.

The Welshman bagged 106 goals for Los Blancos, many of which had significance. In his debut season, he scored the winners in the Champions League and Copa del Rey finals.

But the finest moment of his time at Madrid – and probably his entire career – came in the 2018 Champions League final.

With the scores level at 1-1, Bale unleashed a breathtaking bicycle kick to put his side in front. He would later find the net for a second time, sealing a third European title in a row.

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