The last stop in our tour of looking at the most expensive players is France, so let’s see who are Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever?
With all the money that is coming in from advertisements, fans, merchandising and TV revenue, football clubs have become financial powerhouses that could afford for huge sums of money to be spent on transfers and wages, so taking a closer look at these numbers might be interesting. as we have done so for Europe’s 4 other top Leagues, now it’s time to take a look at Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever.
Ligue 1 used to be more competitive but with the emergence of Qatari-backed PSG as a superpower in France, teams like Monaco and Lyon have found it hard to compete with PSG both on the pitch and off it in the financial front, which will be quite apparent when you take a look at Ligue 1 all-time most expensive signings. So now let us take a look at these signings, see who these players are and were they worth the price that was paid?!
As was the case in Bundesliga where Bayern Munich had acquired the majority of the players on the list, so is the case in France too, as 8 of 10 most expensive Ligue 1 transfers of all time are PSG players. Let’s see who:
Javier Pastore is the player that we kick our list of Ligue 1 most expensive transfers ever with. The Argentinian playmaker who attracted the attention of European teams by playing for Huracan in his country, made his way to Italy to play for Palermo in 2009 and after two successful seasons at Palermo and being named the Young Serie A Footballer of the Year in 2010, it was time for the next step and that step was PSG.
Pastore’s switch to PSG came with a lot of expectation as many regarded him as the next big Argentinian star and he did deliver on his first season as he scored 16 goals in all competition and showed why he was worth the price PSG paid for him. But after his debut seasons, although he performed wonderfully in periods, Pastore underwhelmed and he never reached the levels everyone expected of him. This may be due to the fact that under different managers he was used in deeper roles and could not be involved directly in the attacks as much as before.
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Nonetheless, Pastore’s €42 million price tag that at the time was the Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever now seems trivial in today’s market. His 45 goals and numerous assists in 269 games for PSG, which helped the club win 5 Ligue 1 titles, 5 Coupe de la Ligue and 2 Coupe de France, now seems to be a great bargain for PSG especially considering the €24.7 million they received when they sold Pastore to AS Roma in 2018.
PSG’s former captain, Thiago Silva, is the next player on the list of most expensive Ligue 1 signings ever. The Brazilian defender established himself as one of the best defenders of his generation when he won the Scudetto with AC Milan back in 2010-11 season and a season later he agreed to join PSG in what was a kind of revolution and a rebuilding for the club.
Unlike many players on this list, Silva’s time at Ligue 1 and PSG was much longer as he stayed with the club for 8 seasons and captained the club for the majority of that period, leading himself and the club to an unprecedented 7 Ligue 1 titles, 6 Coupe de la Ligue and 5 Coupe de France. His relentless defensive work, grace on the ball and more importantly his impeccable leadership skills finally led PSG to a Champions League final last year, which they narrowly lost to Bayern Munich, and after which he left PSG for free to join Chelsea.
Considering that back in 2012, PSG was getting one of the world’s best defenders and also seeing how well he performed at PSG and the heights he climbed to with the club, the €42 million that PSG paid Milan to acquire Silva’s services seems almost trivial and it was definitely money well spent, because Silva is not only one of Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever but rather one of Ligue 1’s best defenders and players ever.
The first Monaco player on the list of most expensive signings in Ligue 1 history is the Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao, who arrived at Monaco in 2013 after 2 having great seasons with Atletico Madrid. Falcao technically was a Monaco player for 6 seasons but 2 of them were spent on loan at Manchester United and Chelsea, both of which were extremely unsuccessful. But on his return to the club in 2016, he helped Monaco win the Ligue 1 and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Falcao was already one of the best goal scorers in Europe when he joined Monaco in 2013, having shown his ability in front of the goal in both Porto and Atletico, and he started his Monaco career being great as well but soon injuries hit him in his first season and he lost half of the season. After his first season though he proceeded to have two unsuccessful seasons on loan at Premier League, before rejoining Monaco in 2016, who at the time had a great team of young players like Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe.
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Falcao’s second spell at Monaco was somewhat of a redemption for him as he showed why he was considered to be one of the best forwards around once again. He ended up scoring 83 goals in 140 games and winning an unprecedented Ligue 1 title in 2016-17 season and helping them reach the semi-finals of Champions League, so all in all not a bad return for the €43 million Monaco paid Atletico Madrid in 2013.
The second and last non-PSG player among the Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever is yet another Monaco and Colombian International, James Rodriguez, who was a rising star at Porto when Monaco decided to bring him to Ligue 1 in 2013, but the 2014 World Cup happened just after his debut season and James’ career at Monaco was cut short.
In fact, James arrived at Monaco the same time his compatriot and former Porto teammate, Falcao, also arrived at the club and both were part of Monaco’s big plan to challenge PSG for the title, a plan that mostly failed after James’ performances at the 2014 World Cup which earned him the top goal scorer award and attracted the attention of many big clubs including Real Madrid, which he ended up joining.
After being transferred from Porto for the fee of €45 million which was at the Ligue 1 highest transfer fee paid ever just after Edinson Cavani’s transfer, James’s solitary season at Monaco was actually quite impressive as he scored 10 goals across all competitions, was the top assist provider in Ligue 1 and was even picked for the Team of the Season. All in all, not a bad return for the money they paid especially considering that Real Madrid paid them €63 million for his transfer just one year later.
David Luiz is another Brazilian amongst Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever but unlike Thiago Silva his stay at Ligue 1 was much shorter as he only stayed at PSG for two seasons after joining them from Chelsea where he had established himself as a serial winner, who had both the Europa League and the Champions League.
Luiz’s stay at PSG was also quite successful as the defender was picked for the Team of the season in both league campaigns he spent at PSG. He ended up winning 1 domestic Treble and a domestic Double at PSG. He even scored against his former club Chelsea in the Champions League, but despite helping them move past Chelsea, PSG were unsuccessful at Champions League, which is a tale that seems to repeat every year.
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So after a transfer in the region of €49.5 million and a couple of Ligue 1 and domestic cups, David Luiz, who at the time was the most expensive defender in the world and one of Ligue 1 all-time most expensive signings, decided to move back to his former club Chelsea in a €35 million transfer, which considering that Luiz spent possibly the prime of his career at PSG, was not a bad deal for PSG at all.
One of the newer entries to the list of most expensive Ligue 1 signings ever is Inter Milan’s former captain and one of their all-time top goal scorers, Mauro Icardi, who arrived at PSG on loan at beginning of last season but his move was not made permanent until the summer of 2020. The Argentine was at some point one of the most sought after forwards in Europe but his move to PSG does not seem to be right one, as of yet at least.
Icardi, who was undoubtedly Inter Milan’s best player in the time he spent at the club, slowly fell out of favor of the fans and the managers because of the comments he or his agent, who is also his wife, made outside the pitch and after scoring 124 goals in 219 games for Inter Milan, he decided to join the reigning Ligue 1 champions PSG last summer, on a loan deal that could be made permanent if PSG wished it.
Despite PSG manager Thomas Tuchel’s lack of belief in Icardi, he ended his first season at the club with 20 goals and did what he was best at in the limited time he had on the pitch. he even helped PSG reach the Champions League final to battle Bayern for the Treble but being completely benched in the final showed just how much trust Tuchel has in Icardi’s abilities. So it was a surprise when PSG made his deal permanent in the summer and paid €50 million, which made Icardi one of Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever, but we’ll have to wait and see what the future has in store for Icardi.
After his disastrous season at Manchester United, Angel Di Maria needed to revive his career and there may have been people who doubted him when he left United after only a season to come to PSG and become one of the most expensive signings in Ligue 1 history but his performances ever since have proved the doubters wrong as he became one of their best players in the period he has been with the club.
Di Maria, who is now enjoying his sixth season at PSG, was able to repeat the excellent performances, that was akin to his time at Benfica and Real Madrid, at the club. He even improved upon his goal scoring abilities as his goals doubled or tripled the amount he would produce in Real Madrid, but his strength always lay in providing creativity and assists for his team which he continues to excel at as was proven by last seasons’ Champions League campaign in which he became the top assist provider with 6 assists and helped his team reach the final.
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4 Ligue 1 titles, 4 Coupe de la Ligue and 4 Coupe de France trophies after his €63 million transfer from Manchester United in 2015 and with him scoring 86 goals and numerous assists in 234 games, shows that Angel Di Maria was totally worth the money PSG paid Manchester and totally deserves to be one of Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever. Even now at 32 he is still very much part of the plan for PSG but with his contract expiring at the end of the season, we’ll have to wait and see if the club will extend his stay or not.
PSG’s all-time top goal scorer is the next player on the list of Ligue 1 most expensive transfers ever. The Uruguayan international was notoriously hard to work with as some of the players who worked with him have stated over the years but his numbers show why he is totally worth any price that was paid to bring him to PSG, as he is truly one of the best PSG players of all time.
After establishing himself in Italy with Palermo and especially Napoli, where he scored an incredible amount of 104 goals in just 138 matches, Cavani was ready for the next big move and PSG came calling. He joined PSG in the 2013 in a deal that cost them around €64.5 million, which at the time was the most expensive signing in French football history and still is one of Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever, but it would soon prove a smart move by PSG.
Although Cavani’s first seasons coincided with Zlatan’s last at PSG and the two competed for goals so naturally his numbers weren’t that high, although he did 81 goals in his first 3 season. But after Zlatan’s departure his numbers got even more impressive and he ended his time at PSG with 200 goals in 301 matches, having won 6 Ligue 1 titles, 5 Coupe de France and 4 Coupe de la Ligue, becoming their all-time top scorer and one of the best Ligue 1 transfers ever. He ended up leaving the French club last summer to join Manchester United on a free transfer.
The title of generational talent isn’t tossed around lightly in football but if there is one generational talent in the new crop of young players, it’s Kylian Mbappe. One of the few teenage World Cup Winners, Mbappe truly burst into the scene in the 2016-17 season when he helped Monaco break PSG’s total rule in Ligue 1 and became Champions of France. Monaco’s impressive Champions League run in the same season which ended in the Semi-finals were in huge part because of Mbappe too.
Naturally there were a lot of players interested in the 18-year-old in the summer of 2017 and finally PSG succeded to bring him to Paris, in a loan deal that would be made permanent after a season. A deal that was one of the most expensive Ligue 1 transfers of all time. Mbappe adapted quickly to life at Paris and scored 21 goals in his first season before starring in the 2018 World Cup and helping France win the competition.
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Mbappe working alongside Neymar and Cavani or Di Maria has made sure that PSG’s attack seem entirely unstoppable. Mbappe himself has scored 102 goals in 138 matches and he seems to be improving his numbers every year. His €145 million price tag which is two times the amount of the third person on the list of Ligue 1 highest transfer fee paid ever is totally deserved considering the quality he brings to the team as well as the money his eventual departure will bring. For now, Mbappe seems perfectly happy at Paris and looks to further his achievements there.
We all know this was coming, who could be No 1. among Ligue 1 most expensive signings ever but the Brazilian Neymar, who is incidentally the most expensive football player ever. The transfer saga that resulted in Neymar Jr. leaving Barcelona to join PSG could be an entire article in itself, so instead we are going to summarize it and talk a little about his time at PSG.
On August of 2017, Neymar’s representatives paid Barcelona the €222 million release clause which allowed him to join PSG. The money that was paid and the legal situation surrounding it has been the subject of many discussions, which is still going on today as Neymar has demanded that Barcelona did not pay him part of his salary and has taken them to court.
On the pitch however, Neymar has performed according to what was expected of a player of his caliber, which has been brilliant albeit the numerous untimely injuries that he has had over the past 3 seasons. Neymar has helped PSG win three Ligue 1 titles, two Coupe de France, and two Coupe de la Ligue in addition to helping them to a Champions League final. He has also scored 79 goals in 97 games which boasts of a 0.81 goals-per-game ratio and have completely dominated the Ligue 1 whenever he is on the pitch.
On the financial side of things PSG has undoubtedly made back the money they have spent on Neymar, with him bringing in a lot of revenue and recognition to the club via the merchandise, sponsorships and the influx of new fans for the club. So not only did PSG make a smart footballing decision by bringing Neymar, but they also made a great financial decision too. And if Neymar ever decides to leave PSG then they will undoubtedly get a huge price for the transfer. So all in all his transfer has brought a lot of great things for PSG and French football as well and it is deservedly the last transfer on our list.