Sun 26 February 2023 | 14:30

The Most Expensive Football Transfers Ever

So! Actually the most expensive football transfers translates to the most expensive football players in the world, doesn’t it? Who are they, by the way? and for what transfer fees have they moved? Here, we are going to let you know about these top expensive players. Stay with us!

Nowadays, player prices have risen, making it impossible to move great players without spending eye-watering amounts of money.

The economic climate of football has changed. The financial factor has grown in significance as the sport has turned more and more into a business. The rise in the television business has left quite a particular mark. For instance, it has become more commonplace to agree to transfers for a certain sum that are then supplemented with performance bonuses.

The most costly player transfers in football are listed here, along with deals that broke previous world records for player transfer costs. Neymar's August 2017 move from Barcelona to PSG for €222 million set the transfer market record.

The Most Expensive Football Transfers Ever

This is a list of the most costly transfers in football history as of the most recent update. The players that have cost the most money are named here, despite modern contracts with variables and bonuses making them change.


For a record transfer fee of €222 million in August 2017, the Brazilian international,

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

, simply known as Neymar, moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, becoming the most expensive player ever in the history of football up until now.

Prior to that, Neymar had moved from the Brazilian club, Santos, to


 for a transfer fee of €86.2 million of which €40 million had been received by the professional footballer’s parents. One interesting fact about Neymar’s transfer fee is that no other footballer before him had moved for over €105 million, let alone twice that amount! The highest transfer fee before Neymar was €105 million paid by Manchester United to Juventus for Pual Pogba’s move to the club.

Kylian Mbappe

For a transfer fee of €180 million - €42 million less than Neymar, Monaco’s 19-year-old defender,

Kylian Mbappe

, moved from Monaco to PSG in July 2018, and by doing so he also made a record: The most expensive teenage footballer and the most expensive transfer ever within a domestic league at the time (2018).

Prior to his switch to Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe was signed as a loanee by the Ligue 1 side. Rumor had it at the time that a transfer fee of €145 million was required from PSG for the teenage full transfer.

Joao Felix

The highest amount


 had ever received as transfer fee and also the highest amount Atletico had ever paid for a signee, €126 million is another record of high transfer fee ever in the history of football set for the 19-year-old forward, Joao Felix. He represents Chelsea as a forward on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Felix moved from Benfica to Atletico Madrid for the above-mentioned amount. One interesting fact about Felix’s transfer is that the destination club, Atletico, paid only €30 million in cash for his transfer and the rest €96 million was paid via installments, thus going beyond Felix’s release clause of €120 million.

Antoine Griezmann

12 July 2019, Barcelona confirmed the purchase of

Antoine Griezmann

through paying his release clause: €120 million. The player moved from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, although later his former club claimed that the release clause had been €200 million. Atletico submitted a complaint to LaLiga but the professional league’s president, Javier Tebas, later stated that it was possible to block the transfer but LaLiga had to decide about the matter.

However, that didn’t lead to anything, with the player making his debut in a friendly match against Chelsea in Japan. Before moving to Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann had switched from Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid for a transfer fee of €30 million.

Philippe Coutinho

For a transfer fee of €145 million, the Brazilian forward, Philippe Coutinho, moved from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2018. His transfer cost reportedly started at €105 million and increased to €145 million as a number of conditions were satisfied.

On August 19, 2019, Coutinho signed a season-long loan agreement with Bayern Munich

“We've been working on bringing in Philippe Coutinho for quite some time and we're very happy that we’ve been able to complete this transfer. Our thanks go to FC Barcelona for agreeing to the transfer. With his creativity and outstanding skills, Philippe is a player who will immediately strengthen our attack,” said Bayern’s CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge about Coutinho’s transfer.

He presently represents Aston Villa as an offensive midfielder or winger.

Ousmane Dembélé

Ousmane Dembélé moved from

Borussia Dortmund

to Barcelona on August 25, 2017, for a transfer fee of €105 million. Dembélé made his debut for the LaLiga giants in September that year in a home win against Espanyol. He had made his previous move from Rennes to Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed transfer fee.

Dembélé’s performance at Borussia Dortmund was quite good with 8 goals he scored and 18 assists that he provided. Maybe that was what actually attracted Barca’s attention. The LaLiga giants were actually looking for a replacement for Neymar who had moved recently for a world record transfer fee of €222 million to Paris Saint-Germain.

Paul Pogba

Pogba’s return to his former club,

Manchester United

, (from Juventus) actually costed the club €105 million which was the highest transfer fee at its own time (2016), making the French midfielder the most expensive footballer in the world at that time. Pogba had previously moved from Manchester United to Juventus on free transfer.

Manchester United’s manager at that time (2012) confirmed that Pogba had not signed a new contract with the club. Apparently disappointed, the former Man Utd manager said: “I don't think he showed us any respect at all, to be honest. I'm quite happy that if they [footballers] carry on that way, they're probably better doing it away from us."

Eden Hazard

From Chelsea to

Real Madrid

; Eden Hazard’s move to the LaLiga giants actually costed them €100 million. Hazard signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid for transfer fee which could increase to €146 million due to additional fees. The Belgium international had moved from the Ligue 1 side, Lille, to Chelsea for a transfer fee of around €36 million in June 2012.

Also Hazard’s €100-million move to Real Madrid made him Real’s most expensive player after Gareth Bale who moved to the club for a transfer fee of €101 million in 2013. Should Hazard’s transfer fee increase to €146 million, he will become the Real’s most expensive player ever.

Cristiano Ronaldo


Cristiano Ronaldo

is not the most expensive player in the world, his move to Juventus for a transfer fee of €100 million, made him the most expensive over-30 footballer in the world plus that the transfer amount itself was the highest ever paid by an Italian club.

Also Ronaldo’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009-10 season for a transfer fee of €94 million was a world record at its own time. He actually signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid with a €1 billion release clause. Yet another record: At least 80,000 supporters attended Ronaldo’s presentation at Real’s stadium, Santiago Bernabéu; this actually broke the 25-year record of

Diego Maradona

whose presentation at Napoli was attended by 75,000 fans.

Gareth Bale

September 2013, Real Madrid signs Gareth Bale on a six-year contract for a transfer fee of €100 million which was at that time (2013) a world record, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of €94 million in 2010 and making Gareth Bale the most expensive football player in the world at the time. However, this record was later broken by Paul Pogba’s transfer fee of €105 million.

One interesting fact about Bale’s transfer is that the Spanish press reported it to be €91 million at the time, while British press claimed that it was €100 million. Later it was proved that the British press were right.

Gonzalo Higuaín

Gonzalo Higuaín moved from Napoli to Juventus in July 2016 for a transfer fee of €90 million which was paid in two installments. The transfer fee was not only a record in Italian football but also made Higuaín one of the most expensive players in the world at the time.

Higuaín had previously moved from Real Madrid to Napoli for a transfer fee of €40 million, namely in 2013 on a five-year deal, and before that Real Madrid had signed the Argentinian international for a transfer fee of €12 million from the Argentinian club, River Plate.

Harry Maguire

Valued only €3 million less than Gonzalo Higuaín, English midfielder, Harry Maguire, was transferred from

Leicester City

to Manchester United for a transfer fee of €87 million in August 2019. Although Maguire is not the world’s most expensive football player, the transfer fee actually made him the most expensive defender in the world, even more expensive than Virgil van Dijk who moved from Southampton to Liverpool for a transfer fee of around €83.6 million.

Maguire had previously moved from Hull City to Leicester City in 2017 for a much less transfer fee of €12 million. The English international was named the Player of the Season in 2017-18 season and also won Leicester City’s Player of the Season award in the same season. Maybe that attracted Man Utd’s attention and persuaded them to bring in the player.

Romelu Lukaku

From Manchester United to Inter Milan, Romelu Lukaku is among the top 20 most expensive football players in the world who made his move for a transfer fee of €80 million in August 2019 that was a record at least at Inter Milan. Lukaku is a Belgium international and had previously moved from Everton to Manchester United in 2017 for a transfer fee of around €31.2 million.

Lukaku returned to Chelsea in 2021 for a club-record cost of €115 million, making him the 8th-most expensive footballer in history, the most expensive footballer from Belgium, and the most expensive player overall in terms of total transfer fees.

Virgil van Dijk

The second most expensive defender in the world after Harry Maguire, the Netherlands international and current defender of Liverpool,

Virgil van Dijk

moved from Southampton to Liverpool for a transfer fee of around €84.5 million. Virgil had previously moved from Celtic to Southampton for a transfer fee of around €14.5 million in September 2015.

10% of the Virgil van Dijk’s transfer fee was transferred to his former club, Celtic, due to a sell-on clause in his Southampton contract. Van Dijk’s first appearance for Liverpool was in January 5, 2019 in a match against Everton where he could score the winning goal in a 2-1 victory.

Luis Suárez

Luis Suárez’s transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona for a transfer fee of €82.3 million in 2014 made the Uruguayan international the most expensive footballer player in the world in the same year. The transfer fee at the time was undisclosed but later it was revealed through a document by Football Leaks.

Suárez’s previous move from Ajax to Liverpool in 2011 had costed the destination club €25.4 million. The Uruguayan forward would remain Liverpool’s most expensive signee if Andy Carroll had not signed for a transfer fee of €39 million just a few hours later!

Nicolas Pépé

Nicolas Pépé, an Ivorian international and the current Arsenal forward, actually made his move for the Premier League club in 2019 for a transfer fee of €80 million and broke the previous €62-million record of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Pépé’s previous transfer fee was only €10 million when he moved from Angers to Lille on a five-year contract.

Pépé’s first appearance for Arsenal was in August 11, 2019 in a match against Newcastle United that ended in Arsenal’s 1-0 win. Pépé came as a substitute for Reiss Nelson in this game. Pépé’s complete first-time appearance for Arsenal was in a match against Liverpool where the Gunners lost the game 3-1.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

A goalkeeper that paid his own €80-million release clause and became the most expensive goalkeeper in the world in 2018 by breaking the record €72.5-million transfer fee of

Alisson Becker

that was actually paid by Liverpool to sign the goalkeeper from Roma. After paying for his own release club, Kepa Arrizabalaga signed a seven-year contract with Chelsea.

Before moving to Chelsea, Arrizabalaga had served Atletico Bilbao for two years, namely from 2016 to 2018. His debut for Chelsea was only 3 days after his arrival at the Premier League club in a match against Huddersfield Town that ended in Chelsea’s 3-0 win. Arrizabalaga had by then 6 clean sheets and Chelsea were unbeaten for 12 matches.

Lucas Hernandez

In March 2019 after a five-year spell at Atletico Madrid, Lucas Hernandez joined Bayern Munich for a transfer fee of €80 million which was not only a record at Bayern but also a record in Bundesliga. So, he actually became the most expensive player in the German professional league at the time.

Lucas Hernandez is a defender and France international since 2018. The above-mentioned fee is actually his first record, and if it rises over time, it means that he can even reach the top of the list of the most expensive players in the world.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane set a world record by moving from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001 for a transfer fee of €76 million which was paid in installments by the LaLiga giants.

You will be probably surprised if you know that Zidane moved from G. Bordeaux to Juventus in 1996 for a transfer fee of around €3.5 million which in value is more than 20 times less than his next move to Real Madrid.

James Rodríguez

In July 2014, James Rodríguez moved from Monaco to Real Madrid for a transfer fee that was not revealed at first but later was reported to be something around €75 million. This meant that Rodríguez had become the fourth most expensive player in the world and the third most expensive player in Real Madrid history in the same year (2014).

Also the Columbia international had become the most expensive Columbian footballer in history - of course until that time, breaking the €60-million transfer record of Radamel Falcao, his fellow Columbian who plays currently for the Turkish club,



Ángel Di María 

Di María’s move from Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain was undisclosed first but later was reported to be something around €75.6 million. Di María’s previous transfer was from Real Madrid to Manchester United in 2014 for a transfer fee of €66.6 million which is not far behind this value.

After playing for Paris Saint-Germain, Di Maria joined Juventus on a rumored one-year contract of €7 million in 2022.

Matthijs de Ligt

In july 2019, Matthijs de Ligt moved from Ajax to Juventus for a transfer fee of €75 million which was paid in five installments - €15 million for each year. De ligt is a defender and a product of Ajax FC. When at Ajax, namely in 2018, he won the Golden Boy Award - an award given by sports journalists to a footballer under 21 that has performed the best during a season - and became the first defender to have won the award.

De Ligt signed a five-year agreement with Bayern Munich on July 19, 2022, for a reported €67 million initial cost that may go to €77 million in add-ons. The defender has also played for the Netherlands national team since 2017.

Frenkie de Jong

For the same amount as Matthijs de Ligt, namely €75 million, Frenkie de Jong moved from Ajax to Barcelona in 2019. Other clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain had also showed interest in the Dutch midfielder, but he actually chose Barcelona over them.

De Jong is actually the product of the Dutch club, Willem and has mostly played as a central midfielder. After signing for Barcelona, he could score in all his 12 first appearances for the LaLiga giants. He has also played for the Netherlands national team since 2018.

Enzo Fernandez

Once a finalized deal was made between Chelsea and Benfica on January 31, 2023, Chelsea acquired Fernández for a sum of €121 million. He agreed to an eight and a half year deal that would last until 2031.

Behdad Eghbali, a co-owner of Chelsea, served as the mediator during the more than 10 hours-long negotiations. Benfica received the initial £30 million installment as part of the Chelsea transfer agreement, which set a new British record. There will be a total of five further payments.

Jack Grealish

Manchester City signed Grealish on 5 August 2021 on a six-year deal lasting until 2027. Many media sites stated that Aston Villa received a transfer price of €117 million, making it the most expensive sale of an English player and the most considerable cost ever paid by a British club.

Grealish received the number 10 jersey from the squad, replacing club star Sergio Aguero. Grealish made his City debut on the opening day of the 2021–22 Premier League, in a 1-0 loss to Spurs


Ajax announced on August 30, 2022, that they and Red Devils have agreed a special arrangement for Antony. Two days later, Antony agreed to a five-year deal worth €95 million, with a further €5 million in add-ons.

This was the costliest move in Eredivisie history and the third-highest price ever paid by the club, behind only Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku. He was given the number 21 shirt that had been worn by Edinson Cavani.

Jadon Sancho

Sancho's move was declared to have been agreed upon by Manchester United and Dortmund on July 1st, 2021. Once Sancho agreed to a five-year deal with an additional year's option and signed the contract, the transfer was finalized on July 23.

Odion Ighalo's former number 25 jersey was given to him. He made his debut on August 14 in a 5-1 home league victory over Leeds United.

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