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10 Most Expensive Transfers in Football History

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10 Most Expensive Transfers in Football History

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There is a point in a football player’s career where a transfer to another team is necessary. What does a football transfer mean? A transfer happens when a club wants to strengthen its squads and secure the services of talented players. These transfers are highly anticipated and often attract significant media attention and fan speculation. With multimillion-dollar deals and intense negotiations, clubs engage in a fierce battle to acquire the most sought-after players.

Among the many players that get bid on by clubs, some get contracted at high prices. These are a few of the most expensive transfers in football history:

Neymar (Barcelona to PSG, €222m, 2017)

In 2017, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) made headlines with their remarkable acquisition of Neymar, which not only showcased their Qatari owners’ immense financial power but also reshaped the landscape of the transfer market. The staggering €222m (£198m) price tag attached to the Brazilian superstar shattered the existing world record of £89m, leaving an indelible mark on how clubs assessed the value of their players.

This groundbreaking transaction set the stage for subsequent mega-deals, involving astronomical nine-figure sums, and paved the way for a new era in the world of football transfers.

Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to PSG, €180m, 2018)

Kylian Mbappe’s transfer from Monaco to PSG in 2018, for a whopping £163m, marked a significant milestone in the football world. The French striker had just clinched the World Cup victory with his national team when the move became permanent. This transfer came hot on the heels of PSG’s record-breaking acquisition of Neymar, and the initial one-year loan arrangement seemed to be a strategic maneuver to adhere to the Financial Fair Play regulations in place.

Mbappe’s transfer not only highlighted his immense talent but also underscored the ambitious spending power of PSG, backed by their Qatari investors.

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, €145m, 2018)

Philippe Coutinho, a Brazilian playmaker, made a significant impact on the football world during his career. He showcased his exceptional talent while representing Brazil in major tournaments like the Copa America in 2015 and Copa America Centenario in 2016. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coutinho made his debut and impressed with two goals, leading to his inclusion in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, as reported.

His transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018 was a notable event, with the initial deal costing £105m. The total amount eventually reached £142m due to additional add-ons. After a challenging four years at Barcelona, Coutinho moved on to Aston Villa.

Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, €126m, 2019)

At the age of 19, Joao Felix made waves in the football world with his remarkable €126m transfer to Atletico Madrid. This transfer was the fourth-largest in history. The talented Portuguese forward currently plays for Atletico Madrid in La Liga and represents the Portugal national team.

In 2019, he won prestigious awards like the Golden Boy, which recognizes the best player under 21 in Europe, and the Best Young Player of the Year in the Primeira Liga. It’s worth noting that Felix’s transfer fee made him the second-most expensive teenage footballer ever, highlighting his incredible potential and the confidence Atletico Madrid had in his skills.


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Enzo Fernandez (Benfica to Chelsea, €121m, 2023)

In the January 2023 transfer window, Chelsea engaged in a prolonged negotiation to secure the services of Fernandez. Ultimately, they met Benfica’s €126m release clause, which was included in his contract. This meant that Fernandez would move to Stamford Bridge only six months after joining the Portuguese club for a mere €17m.

Notably, Fernandez showcased his exceptional skills while representing Argentina in the World Cup, where he not only helped his team win the tournament but also received the Young Player award. It’s interesting to note that although Fernandez’s transfer cost was the same as Griezmann’s, Chelsea ended up paying €1m more due to the exchange rate fluctuations over three-and-a-half years.

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

Barcelona capitalized on Antoine Griezmann’s reduced release clause, which dropped from €200m to €120m, enabling them to secure his signature from Atletico Madrid. Despite Atletico’s efforts to dispute the transfer, Griezmann made his move to Barcelona. Interestingly, the striker’s transfer fee matched the same amount (€120m) that Barcelona had recently paid for Coutinho, emphasizing the significance of both acquisitions for the club.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Man City, €118m, 2021)

In the summer of 2021, Jack Grealish made headlines with his €118m transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City, setting a new record for British transfers. This deal surpassed the previous record held by Paul Pogba’s €105m move to Manchester United in 2016.

Additionally, Grealish became the most expensive English player of all time, overtaking Harry Maguire’s transfer fee from two years earlier when he joined Manchester United. The significant investment in Grealish by Manchester City reflects the club’s recognition of his talent and potential contribution to their squad.

Romelu Lukaku (Inter to Chelsea, €115m, 2021)

Lukaku’s return to Chelsea last summer came with a hefty price tag, following his impressive two-year stint with Inter Milan in Italy. However, the Belgian striker has faced challenges in meeting the high expectations associated with his transfer fee. Although the €115m paid for Lukaku fell slightly short of the British transfer record, it made him the player with the highest total transfer value in history.
Over the years, various clubs have collectively spent a staggering €335m on securing his services. This remarkable figure underlines Lukaku’s immense talent and the belief placed in his abilities by multiple clubs throughout his career.

Ousmane Dembele (Dortmund to Barcelona, €105m, 2017)

Ousmane Dembele stands as a testament to Borussia Dortmund’s effective financial and sporting management, serving as a prime example of modern transfers. Initially acquired by Barcelona for 105 million, the final cost has risen to 135 million due to the successful fulfillment of various performance-based bonuses.

This showcases the intricate nature of transfer deals, where additional payments can be triggered based on player achievements or milestones. Dembele’s transfer serves as a case study highlighting the complex financial dynamics involved in modern football transactions.

Paul Pogba (Juventus to Man Utd, €105m, 2016)

In 2016, Manchester United made a colossal statement by breaking the world record transfer fee to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus. It was a much-anticipated return, four years after his departure from Manchester. However, despite the initial excitement, things haven’t gone as planned for Pogba and his manager at the time, Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese boss had expressed high hopes, envisioning Pogba as the club’s heart for a decade. Unfortunately, the Frenchman has faced challenges in finding consistent form, and as his contract approaches its expiration in the summer, it seems he may be heading towards a new chapter elsewhere. The story of Pogba’s second stint at Manchester United is a testament to the unpredictable nature of football and how even the most promising signings can face unexpected twists and turns.


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