By William Hill
Last Updated: 18th February 2020
“I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal,” the legendary Johan Cruyff once said. While that may be true, what a bag of money can buy you is a very good player. As football clubs continue to keep on spending, we’ve taken a look at the top 10 most expensive football transfers of all time, according to Transfrmarkt.
List of the most expensive players by year
|1||Neymar||Barcelona - PSG||2017||£199.8m|
|2||Philippe Coutinho||Liverpool - Barcelona||2018||£130.5m|
|3||Kylian Mbappe||Monaco - PSG||2017||£121.5m|
|4||Joao Felix||Benfica - Atletico Madrid||2019||£113.4m|
|5||Ousmane Dembele||Borussia Dortmund - Barcelona||2017||£112.5m|
|6||Antoine Griezmann||Atletico Madrid - Barcelona||2019||£108m|
|7||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid - Juventus||2018||£105.3m|
|8||Paul Pogba||Juventus - Manchester United||2016||£94.5m|
|9||Gareth Bale||Tottenham - Real Madrid||2013||£90.9m|
|10||Eden Hazard||Chelsea - Real Madrid||2019||£90m|
Neymar – Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for £199.8 million in 2017
Football clubs have long been spending huge sums of cash on players each year, but there was a seismic shift when Paris Saint-Germain shelled out a mammoth £199.8 million on Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, breaking the transfer record (Paul Pogba to Manchester United) by a barely believable £105 million in the process.
The Brazil international had already won all there was to win with Barcelona, including the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015, though playing in the same side as one Lionel Messi meant he was never going to be the main attraction.
Part of Neymar’s decision to move to PSG was in order to win the Ballon d’Or and become the greatest player on the planet… Over two years on and he’s no closer to achieving that aim and, despite winning a bucketload of French domestic trophies during his time in Paris, the 27-year-old did his best to force a move back to La Liga in the summer, but to no avail.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona for £130.5 million in 2018
Next on the list is a player who, it’s safe to say, failed to justify his price tag. Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool for £130.5 million in January 2018 after establishing himself as one of the Reds’ most attacking threats, with the deal a blow to the Premier League side despite the hefty fee they received.
Fast forward to October 2019 and Liverpool have one of the best attacking trios in the world in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, are current Champions of Europe and sit eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table, while Coutinho struggled to make a real impact at Bacelona and has since been shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich as he seeks to rebuild his career.
Kylian Mbappe – Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain for £121.5 million in 2017
If there was only one club in the world that could afford to sign Neymar for £199.8 million, then there was also only one club that could go and sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for another £121.5 million just a few weeks later. So much money had Paris Saint-Germain spent already on Neymar that Mbappe initially had to move to the French capital on loan before making the move permanent in 2018 due to Financial Fair Play rulings.
Mbappe became hot property after inspiring Monaco to the Ligue 1 title in 2017 and his stock has only risen since switching allegiances to PSG. The striker has helped the Paris outfit to two Ligue 1 titles in two years, netted 42 goals in all competitions last season and already has a World Cup winners’ medal to his name at the age of just 20 years old. With Barcelona and Real Madrid circulating, the youngster could well make the transfer record his own in years to come.
Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid for £113.4 million in 2019
Anyone touted as the next Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to come with a big transfer fee, that being the case with Joao Felix, who cost Atletico Madrid £113.4 million when they signed the forward from Benfica in the summer.
The difference being that many in the past have been likened to Ronaldo but failed to live up to the hype; that does not seem to be the case with Felix, who only made his senior debut in August last season before going on to score 15 goals as Benfica won the Portuguese title.
Felix has made a decent start to life at Atletico, with three goals in 10 appearances, and at the age of just 19, you’d expect him to kick on and become a vital player for the club for years to come.
Ousmane Dembele – Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona for £112.5 million in 2017
Barcelona splashed out some of their cash from the sale of Neymar on the signing of Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, bringing in the France international for £112.5 million.
The forward arrived in Barcelona as one of the world’s most promising youngsters, yet while he has had his moments, a total of 19 goals scored for the La Liga club in that time suggests he has struggled to justify his price tag. Barcelona were reportedly looking to offload him in the summer.
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona for £108 million in 2019
The messiest transfer award on this list has to go to Antoine Griezmann’s £108 million move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona in 2019.
Atletico complained negotiations took place between Griezmann and Barcelona while he was under contract with them, leading to the Spanish Football Association investigating the transfer. They eventually came to a decision, opting to fine Barcelona all of €300 for breaking the rules in their pursuit of the France international.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid to Juventus for £105.3 million in 2018
That Cristiano Ronaldo could command a transfer fee of £105.3 million when he made the move from Real Madrid to Juventus in 2018 as a 33-year-old speaks volumes. Formerly the holder of the world transfer record when he made the move to Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 for £84.6 million, by the time Ronaldo had departed the Santiago Bernabeu after nine years, he’d won all there was to win, including four Champions Leagues and four Ballon d’Ors.
Over a year on and he’s won a first Serie A title, with Juventus sitting top of the pile this season. The Portugal captain has this week become just the sixth player in history to net 700 career goals – it doesn’t look like there’s any sign of him slowing down any time soon.
Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United for £94.5 million in 2016
Paul Pogba returned to where it all began in 2016, leaving Juventus for a then world-record fee of £94.5 million to join Manchester United, the club he had left four years previously.
The stage looked set for Pogba to become one of the star players on the planet and lift United back to their former glories. That has failed to happen, however, with United just about as bad as they have ever been since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and Pogba struggling with consistency. He continues to be linked with a move to Spain.
Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid for £90.9 million in 2013
Gareth Bale’s £90.9 million move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013 should be looked at as a roaring success. Six years on from the switch and the Wales international has four Champions Leagues to his name, scoring in two of those finals, along with a host of other trophies Madrid have won in that time.
In the summer, however, amid rumours that Bale is not the most popular player in the dressing room and still yet to learn much Spanish, Zinedine Zidane was desperate to have him out of the club. Madrid were unable to find a suitor and Bale remains, but for how long is another question.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid for £90 million in 2019
Eden Hazard was another of this summer’s big moves, leaving Chelsea after seven years for Real Madrid for £90 million. Having played in below-par Chelsea teams or worked under managers with arguably a more defensive-minded focus in recent years, the time felt right for one of the world’s best attacking talents to move to Madrid.
With just one goal for the Spanish side so far this season, the critics’ knives have already been out at a club notorious for snap judgements. Time will tell how the rest of Hazard’s season will go, but you would most likely expect him to rise to the occasion.