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Most Expensive Football Transfers Of All Time

With the 2022 summer transfer window just around the corner, clubs across the world are getting ready to once again splash the cash.

Increased revenues from sponsorship and broadcast deals have sent transfer fees through the roof, and there is little sign of them slowing down.

Ahead of what is sure to be a hectic period, let’s look at the 50 most expensive transfers of all time and some of the big stories from those moves.

The 50 most expensive football transfers of all-time

1. Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, 2017) – £199.8m

2. Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain, 2017) – £130.5m

3. Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, 2017) – £126m

4. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2018) – £121.5m

5. Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, 2019) – £114.5m

6. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, 2019) – £108m

7. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, 2021) – £105.75m

8. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus, 2018) – £105.3m

9. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, 2019) – £103.5m

10. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea, 2021) – £101.7m

11. Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, 2016) – £94.5m

12. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, 2013) – £90.9m

13. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2009) – £84.6m

14. Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli to Juventus, 2016) – £81m

15. Neymar (Santos to Barcelona, 2013) – £79.2m

16. Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United, 2019) – £78.3m

17. Frenkie de Jong (Ajax to Barcelona, 2019) – £77.4m

18. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax to Juventus, 2019) – £76.95m

19. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, 2021) – £76.5m

20. Romelu Lukaku (Everton to Manchester Utd, 2017) – £76.23m

21. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, 2018) – £76.19m

22. Luis Suarez (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2014) – £73.55m

23. Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina to Juventus, 2022) – £73.44m

=24. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, 2020) – £72m

=24. Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich, 2019) – £72m

=24. Nicolas Pepe (Lille to Arsenal, 2019) – £72m

=24. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea, 2018) – £72m

28. Zinedine Zidane (Juventus to Real Madrid, 2001) – £69.75m

=29. Arthur Melo (Barcelona to Juventus, 2020) – £68.4m

=29. Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg to Manchester City, 2015) – £68.4m

=31. Victor Osimhen (Lille to Napoli, 2020) – £67.5m

=31. James Rodriguez (Monaco to Real Madrid, 2014) – £67.5m

=31. Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid to Manchester United, 2014) – £67.5m

34. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United to Inter Milan, 2019) – £66.6m

35. Thomas Lemar (Monaco to Atletico Madrid, 2018) – £64.8m

36. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan to Barcelona, 2009) – £62.55m

37. Ruben Dias (Benfica to Manchester City, 2020) – £61.2m

38. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City to Manchester City, 2018) – £61.02m

39. Kaka (AC Milan to Real Madrid, 2009) – £60.3m

40. Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan to Paris Saint-Germain, 2021) – £59.85m

41. Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid to Chelsea, 2017) – £59.4m

=42. Joao Cancelo (Juventus to Manchester City, 2019) – £58.5m

=42. Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, 2018) – £58.5m

44. Edinson Cavani (Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain, 2013) – £58.05m

45. Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea, 2019) – £57.6m

46. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal, 2018) – £57.38m

47. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool to Manchester City, 2015) – £57.33m

=48. Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid, 2019) – £56.7m

=48. Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 2020) – £56.7m

=48. Angel Di Maria (Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain, 2015) – £56.7m

The biggest football transfer fees in history

Paris Saint-Germain’s massive wealth has allowed them to shell out the two biggest transfer fees in football history.

They spent a whopping £199.8m to sign Neymar from Barcelona in 2017 and another £130.5m to snap up Kylian Mbappe from Monaco the same year.

However, you would be hard-pushed to argue that PSG have got value for money given the pair were signed to help the club win the Champions League.

Neymar is likely to remain at the top of the pile for the foreseeable future after more than doubling the previous transfer fee record.

That honour was previously held by Paul Pogba for his move from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016.

Other holders of the record this century include Gareth Bale (2013), Cristiano Ronaldo (2009), Kaka (2009), Zinedine Zidane (2001), Luis Figo (2000) and Hernan Crespo (2000).

The most expensive goalkeeper of all-time

Delving deeper into the list of most expensive transfer fees of all-time highlights that splashing the cash does not always equate to success.

That is certainly the case where Chelsea’s acquisition of Kepa Arrizabalaga is concerned, with the goalkeeper failing to live up to his lofty £72m price tag.

A series of high-profile errors meant that within two years Chelsea had signed Edouard Mendy to replace him as their number one.

However, previous record holder Alisson has undoubtedly been a superb buy for Liverpool, helping the club win the Champions League and Premier League in successive seasons.

Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea to Real Madrid), Ederson (Benfica to Man City) and Gianluigi Buffon (Parma to Juventus) complete the top five.

The most expensive defender of all-time

Manchester United’s decision to splash out £78.3m on Harry Maguire in 2019 smacked of desperation, and it is safe to say the move has not worked out.

The ex-Leicester City defender has not been helped by comparisons with former record holder Virgil van Dijk, who has been a fantastic buy for Liverpool.

The Netherlands international’s arrival has transformed Liverpool’s fortunes, while United have been left trailing in their wake.

Maguire has struggled for consistency with the Red Devils – it will be interesting to see if incoming manager Erik ten Hag can revive his fortunes.

Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax to Juventus) and Ruben Dias (Benfica to Manchester City) round off the top five.

The most expensive midfielder of all-time

The trend of big fees weighing heavily on some players continues in the midfield category, with Philippe Coutinho failing to shine after joining Barcelona in 2018.

Coutinho became the most expensive January signing during that transfer window after pushing hard to secure his exit from Liverpool.

The Brazilian was viewed as the natural successor to Neymar, but the move did not work out as Coutinho failed to live up to expectations.

He has since been loaned to Bayern Munich and Aston Villa but seems unlikely to hit the same heights he reached at Liverpool.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United and Frenkie de Jong (Ajax to Barcelona) complete the top five.

The most expensive forward of all-time

As we mentioned earlier, Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 makes him the most expensive player of all-time ahead of Mbappe.

Ousmane Dembele is third on the list of forwards following his big-money transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona in 2017.

This is another move that has failed to pay dividends, with injuries and attitude problems making Dembele the biggest transfer flop of all-time.

Joao Felix’s £114.5m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid puts him fourth on the list, and he has also found it tough to live up to his price tag.

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona) completes a rogues’ gallery of expensive forward purchases who have not delivered what was expected.

The most expensive teenager of all-time

Mbappe became the most expensive teenage transfer ever when he joined PSG, smashing the previous record held by Anthony Martial when he joined Man Utd from Monaco in 2015.

While Champions League glory has eluded Mbappe, he has largely enhanced his reputation since leaving Monaco to join PSG.

He has scored goals at a phenomenal rate for PSG and played a key role for France in their success at the 2018 World Cup.

A hat-trick against Barcelona in the 2020/21 Champions League round of 16 cemented his status as a global superstar.

Mbappe’s future with PSG is up in the air at the moment, with Real Madrid strongly fancied to snap him up on a free transfer when his contract expires this summer.

The most expensive English player of all-time

Grealish overtook Maguire as the most expensive Englishman in history when he joined Man City from Villa last summer.

He also overtook Gareth Bale as the biggest British transfer ever, eclipsing the Welshman’s transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013.

However, things have not gone to plan for Grealish, with the playmaker failing to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s style of play.

He is not the first player to take time to find his feet at the Etihad Stadium, and it is much too early to write him off.

Despite his struggles, Grealish could end the campaign with a Premier League winners’ medal – something he would never have achieved with Villa.

The biggest transfer fees for summer 2022

As we mentioned at the start of the article, the 2022 summer transfer window is likely to see plenty of big-money moves completed.

Mbappe could be knocked out of second place, while plenty of other transfer deals should make it into the top 50. Here are some of the potential biggest transfer fees for summer 2022.

Declan Rice – West Ham United

West Ham manager David Moyes has repeatedly insisted Rice is not for sale but keeps reminding everyone that the asking price would be a minimum of £150 million.

The Hammers’ exit from the Europa League may lead to Rice pondering his future, potentially sparking a summer bidding war for his services.

Manchester United and Chelsea have been touted as possible destinations for Rice, with the latter club probably the favourites to make a move.

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

Kane was the subject of plenty of transfer speculation last summer, but a rumoured move to Man City failed to materialise.

Tottenham made it clear they would not accept anything less than £150m and they are unlikely to let Kane go without a fight this summer.

Finishing in the top four would boost their hopes of hanging onto Kane. If they miss out, expect some of Europe’s biggest clubs to come calling.

Victor Osimhen – Napoli

Osimhen may well get a second entry in the top 50 list of transfer fees this summer, with several Premier League clubs hoping to strike a deal.

Newcastle United reportedly failed with an £84m bid in January, and it would be no surprise to see them increase their offer at the end of the season.

Man Utd and Arsenal have also been touted as potential suitors for a striker who has the potential to be one of the best in the world.

Darwin Nunez – Benfica

Darwin Nunez is attracting plenty of interest ahead of the summer transfer window after netting 34 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions this season.

The Uruguay international has been linked with Liverpool, while Man Utd are also reportedly considering a summer move.

Former United star Diego Forlan recently told the Breaking the Lines podcast that Nunez could be a major star at Old Trafford. It would be no surprise to see him end up there.

Also See:

Man City’s most expensive signings