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The Most Expensive Transfers of All Time

Mudryk, Antony, and Fernandez were the latest addition to the list of the most expensive transfers of all time during last season. Here, you’ll learn about the rest of that list.

Transfers are undoubtedly one of the most exciting parts of football for fans. Every transfer window, clubs tend to set a new record to sign their targets, as many of them emerge as the most expensive transfers of either the window or history. Here, you’ll learn about the most expensive transfers of all time.

The Most Expensive Transfers

It’s common knowledge for football fans that PSG set the transfer record by signing Neymar for €222m in 2017 as the Brazilian topped the most expensive transfers in Ligue 1, followed by the transfer of Kylian Mbappe next season for €180m. Aged only 19, Mbappe set a record for the most expensive young players in the transfer market and lived up to expectations.

However, there are many other noteworthy transfers that not only shook the football world but shook the records. Here, we take a look at the most expensive transfers. The list contains the initial fees without add-ons, so starts like Mudryk and Nunez will not be included.

15- Cristiano Ronaldo

Credit: Goal
  • Club: Real Madrid
  • Signed from: Manchester United
  • Transfer fee: €94m
  • Year: 2009

Ronaldo led Man United to three Premier League titles and a Champions League as well as winning FIFA Ballon d’Or. This happened before he even turned 24, as Real Madrid had to set a new transfer record to bring him to Santiago Bernabeu. To date, he is still one of the Premier League most expensive transfers.

Ronaldo’s transfer proved fruitful as he won four Champions League trophies with the Los Blancos and two La Liga titles, winning four more Ballon d’Or titles as well. The Portuguese has a marvelous record of scoring 450 goals for the Spanish giants across 438 appearances before leaving the club for Juventus for a €100m fee, which is also among the most expensive transfers

14- Antony

Credit: Planet Football
  • Club: Manchester United
  • Signed from: Ajax
  • Transfer fee: €95m
  • Year: 2022

Upon the arrival of Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, he made his former Ajax player Antony the club’s transfer priority. Antony scored 25 goals across 82 appearances for Ajax as well as winning back-to-back Eredivisie triumphs with the Dutch side.

The club signed Antony for a €95m fee last summer, making him one of the most expensive transfers as the Brazilian winger signed a five-year deal with the club. Although many have criticized Antony during his first Premier League season, everyone is aware of the 23-year-old’s potential as he can give a lot of his transfer fee back after settling in during the next seasons.

13- Gareth Bale

Credit: MARCA
  • Club: Real Madrid
  • Signed from: Tottenham Hotspur
  • Transfer fee: €100m
  • Year: 2013

Next in our list of the most expensive transfers is the Welsh icon Gareth Bale. After the successful transfer of Ronaldo, the Los Blancos were eager to snatch another jewel from the Premier League, and they had their eyes on Tottenham’s captain, Gareth Bale. Three times included in the Premier League Team of the Year as well as Premier League Player of the Season for the 2012-13 season, Real Madrid set a new record by signing Gareth Bale on a six-year contract for a transfer fee of €100 million.

Bale helped Los Blancos win the Champions League trophy five times and La Liga thrice. Although injuries didn’t allow him to be the player he could be, statistically, he is one of the greatest players of all time. He still is one of the most expensive transfers in La Liga.

12- Cristiano Ronaldo

Credit: Eurosport
  • Club: Juventus
  • Signed from: Real Madrid
  • Transfer fee: €100m
  • Year: 2018

Nine years after his record-breaking transfer to Real Madrid, Ronaldo once again made an eye-catching move this time to Juventus. The Portuguese is the only player appearing in this list twice being one of the the most expensive old players in the transfer market.

Although he couldn’t win the Champions League with the Bianconeri, the legendary striker scored 101 goals across 134 appearances for the club. He won three consecutive Serie A titles before eventually returning to Manchester United in 2021.

Juventus paid €100m to bring Ronaldo to Italy, topping the most expensive transfers in Serie A history.

11- Eden Hazard

Credit: Planet Football
  • Club: Real Madrid
  • Signed from: Chelsea
  • Transfer fee: €100m
  • Year: 2019

Hazard was already one of the Ligue 1 most expensive transfers after a €36m move from Lille in 2012, and he became a fan favorite as he helped the club win two Premier League titles and two Europa League trophies. In a bid to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid once again delved into the most expensive transfers in Premier League as they signed the Belgian for €100m.

However, injuries never let Hazard live up to expectations as he only scored 7 goals across 75 appearances for the Los Blanco. Real Madrid is likely to let Hazard leave the club as a free agent once his five-year contract expires.

10- Paul Pogba

Credit: Football365
  • Club: Manchester United
  • Signed from: Juventus
  • Transfer fee: €105m
  • Year: 2016

Many players returned to their previous clubs, but not all of them became one of the most expensive transfers. After coming through the Manchester United Academy, Pogba left the club in search of more game time as he joined Juventus in 2012.

He quickly established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world as he helped the Bianconeri win the Serie A title for four consecutive years. He also played a key role in France’s route to the Euro 2016 final.

Hence, Man United signed the Frenchman for €105m, making him one of the Serie A most expensive transfers. However, Pogba’s return to Man United is mostly remembered due to his hairstyles rather than his performances as he left the club for free in 2022, returning once again to Juventus. Despite that, Pogba won a Europa League title and an EFL Cup with the Red Devils.

9- Ousmane Dembélé

Credit: Marca
  • Club: Barcelona
  • Signed from: Dortmund
  • Transfer fee: €105m
  • Year: 2017

After PSG activated Neymar’s release clause, Barcelona were in a rush to find a replacement and they bought Dortmund’s winger, Ousmane Dembele for €105m, one of the most expensive transfers in Bundesliga history.

The then-20-year-old winger was already a key member of France’s national team as well as one of the best players in the Bundesliga. Although Dembele won two La Liga titles with Barcelona, he never lived up to expectations with injuries sidelining him for most of his career.

However, Dembele is still young enough to turn around his career as he has scored 40 goals across 180 appearances for the Blaugrana. But one thing for certain is he will be among Bundesliga most expensive transfers for quite a long time.

8- Romelu Lukaku

Credit: TEAMtalk
  • Club: Chelsea
  • Signed from: Inter Milan
  • Transfer fee: €115m
  • Year: 2021

Lukaku had a lot of expensive transfers in his career, but the one that will be included in this list of the most expensive transfers is his return to Chelsea from Inter Milan.

After several loan spells, Chelsea sold the Belgian striker to Everton. His outstanding performances there earned him a transfer to Man United. However, he failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford as he pursued a transfer to Inter Milan.

Scoring 64 goals across 95 appearances, Lukaku won the Serie A Footballer of the Year award as well as helping Inter to win the Scudetto. Inter cashed in the striker for €115m as Lukaku returned to Chelsea after 7 years.

However, things didn’t go well for Lukaku as he stoked controversy when he declared he was not happy at Chelsea. He scored a total of 15 goals across 59 appearances in his only season at Chelsea before he was loaned back to Inter.

7- Jack Grealish

Credits: Sky Sports
  • Club: Manchester City
  • Signed from: Aston Villa
  • Transfer fee: €117m
  • Year: 2021

The next on our list of the most expensive transfers is the most expensive English player in history, Jack Grealish.

Despite missing three months due to injury, Grealish recorded the third-highest tally of assists in the 2020-21 Premier League season with Aston Villa. He also played a key role in England’s route to the Euro 2020 final as he helped England defeat Germany in the first knockout stage.

Man City had to beat their rival, Manchester United to sign Grealish. Hence, they signed him for a British record fee. After a slow start to life at Manchester, Grealish established himself as a key player in the 2022-23 season.

6- Antoine Griezmann

Credit: Forbes
  • Club: Barcelona
  • Signed from: Atletico Madrid
  • Transfer fee: €120m
  • Year: 2019

Antoine Griezmann’s transfer to Barcelona is one of the most shocking transfers in football history. The Rojiblancos’ cult hero rejected Barcelona in 2018, stating he would never join the Catalan club. However, he signed for them only a year later for a record fee.

Griezmann scored 133 goals across 257 appearances for Atletico before his transfer to Barca, winning Europa League with the club. However, he signed a five-year contract for Barca after the Catalan club activated his €120 million buy-out clause on 12 July 2019.

Griezmann failed to live up to expectations as he only scored 35 goals across 102 appearances for the Blaugrana, before returning to Atletico in 2021.

5- Philippe Coutinho

Credit: Marca
  • Club: Barcelona
  • Signed from: Liverpool
  • Transfer fee: €120m
  • Year: 2018

Nicknamed “The Magician” by Liverpool fans, Coutinho was a constant performer with the Reds and a fan favorite. However, he pushed for a move to Barcelona and officially submitted a transfer request. As a result, he joined the Catalan club on 6 January 2018 on a €145 deal.

However, things didn’t work out for Coutinho at Barcelona as he scored 26 goals across 106 appearances. He was loaned out to Bayern Munich, where he won the Champions League before Aston Villa made his loan move permanent in 2022.

4- Enzo Fernández

Credit: Planet Football
  • Club: Chelsea
  • Signed from: Benfica
  • Transfer fee: €121m
  • Year: 2023

Last January, Chelsea stepped up to break the British transfer record and sign Enzo Fernandez for €121m. Fernandez just spent half a season with Primeira Liga side after he joined Benfica from River Plate on a €12m deal.

Fernandez played a key role in Argentina’s 2022 World Cup success as the Chelsea owner Todd Boehly maximized Benfica’s profit, making him one of the most expensive transfers. Since joining the club, the Argentine has made 14 Premier League appearances, contributing 2 assists.

3- João Félix

Credit: beIN Sports
  • Club: Atletico Madrid
  • Signed from: Benfica
  • Transfer fee: €126m
  • Year: 2019

After offloading Griezmann, Atletico hurried to seal a deal for Benfica’s highly-rated teenager, Joao Felix. Felix scored 20 goals across 43 appearances for Benfica before his €126m move to La Liga. By doing that, Atletico topped La Liga most expensive transfers.

However, Felix struggled with injuries during his time with Atletico, scoring only 34 goals across 131 appearances. After falling out of Diego Simeone’s favor, Felix joined Chelsea the last January. He has made 13 appearances for Chelsea since joining the club, scoring three goals.

2- Kylian Mbappé

Credit: The Times
  • Club: Paris Saint-Germain
  • Signed from: Monaco
  • Transfer fee: €180m
  • Year: 2018

Monaco’s 19-year-old defender, Kylian Mbappe, moved to PSG on 31 August 2017 on a loan deal with an obligatory buy clause of €180m. The deal became permanent in June 2018. A highly-rated talent, Mbappe scored 27 goals across 60 appearances for Monaco. He continued to shine in his loan spell at PSG as he scored 21 goals across 44 seasons.

Mbappe rose to the heights his talents promised as he scored a total of 207 goals across 256 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain. He won three Ligue 1 titles with the club as well as three Coupe de France trophies. Mbappe was also essential to France’s World Cup triumph in 2018 and the Nations League in the 2020-21 season.

1- Neymar

Credit: Goal
  • Club: Paris Saint-Germain
  • Signed from: Barcelona
  • Transfer fee: €222m
  • Year: 2017

Top of our list of the most expensive transfers shocking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG for a record transfer fee of €222 million in August 2017. Neymar scored 105 goals across 186 for Barca. However, injuries didn’t allow him to live up to his price tag. Despite that, he has scored 118 goals across 173 PSG appearances.

Following recent attacks on him by the club’s fans, Neymar has reportedly decided to leave Paris Saint Germain this summer.

Andrei Lei
Andrei Lei
Andrei is a die-hard Liverpool fan who happens to be a journalist. While not watching, reading, or writing about football, he spends time with the music
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