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Most expensive transfers in MLS history

Tuesday16 February 2021 | 12:30
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Who are the most expensive signings in MLS history? How much have clubs in the USA spent on signing talented footballers to ensure the future of football in America? Follow us below as we take a look at the most expensive MLS transfers of all time.

Major League Soccer

, or MLS as it is usually referred to, is the top-flight of American soccer which has gained quite a prominence over the recent years. While the beautiful game of football is itself an art, countries who aim to raise the best generations of footballers need to treat it as an industry, as a lot of time and effort and quite a hefty investment is required to develop this industry.

While European countries such as England, Germany, France and Spain and other South American countries such as Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina already have a rich history of football to back the production of young and aspiring talents, clubs in the USA have to invest quite a lot of money to find talented youngsters in love with football to further develop their youth teams. Their investments are finally paying off as MLS has made quite a name for itself around the world, with many people following the campaign each season.

As the follower base of the Major League Soccer rises, many are surely wondering who the

most expensive signings in MLS history

are, and how much they have cost their respective clubs. That is why we have prepared you a list of ten most expensive transfers in MLS history, with the list bound to see changes every new season.

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Most expensive MLS transfers of all time

Before we go any further and have an in-depth look at each player’s career as a member on the list of

most expensive transfers in MLS history

, we have provided below a compact list of the footballers who currently hold this title.

  • Matias Pellegrini-€8.1M

  • Javier Hernandez (Chicharito)-€8.5M

  • Alan Pulido-€8.6M

  • Brian Fernandez-€9M

  • Alejandro Pozuelo-€9M

  • Brian Rodriguez-€10.45M

  • Rodolfo Pizarro-€10.91M

  • Brenner-€11.80M

  • Ezequiel Barco-€12.20M

  • Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez-€14.50M

The total and combined amount of all the most expensive MLS transfer fees ever is roughly a little over €103 million. While this amount is slowly turning into a figure a European giant might pay to acquire the services of a teenager these days, it is still quite a hefty sum and has the potential to increase further down the line in a couple of years. Let us see how these players fared at the club who paid top dollar to sign them, and find out if they are still playing for the same clubs.

Matias Pellegrini

  • Transfer: Estudiantes-Inter Miami

  • Transfer fee: €8.1M

  • Current club: Inter Miami CF

Argentine forward

Matias Pellegrini

is one of the prospects to keep an eye on as he has shown glimpses of high potential here and there. He started his professional career at Estudiantes in 2018, when signed for the Argentinian club at the age of 18. He made his professional debut in Copa Argentina and managed to impress many during his first season at the club. The forward is versatile enough to play as both a midfielder and a forward, whether it is in the middle or on the flanks.

Having made more than 17 appearances during his first season at Estudiantes and having scored a total of 4 goals and provided an assists in the process, the talented youngster managed to catch the eyes of Inter Miami, the club partly owned by all-time great David Beckham, and later moved to the MLS side for a little over €8 million on 26 July 2019. Having completed one of the

most expensive transfers in MLS history

, Pellegrini returned to his former club on loan stayed for half a season before joining Inter Miami FC once again.

Of course even though he is one of the most expensive signings in MLS history, there is still a long way ahead of Matias Pellegrini, as the 20-year-old is still honing his skills coming on as a late substitute to gain experience. In total, he has made 20 appearances for the MLS side, scoring a goal and providing 2 assists.

Chicharito

  • Transfer: Sevilla-LA Galaxy

  • Transfer fee: €8.5M

  • Current club: LA Galaxy

Javier Hernandez Balcazar, usually known as

Chicharito

is without a doubt one of the best players to ever grace the pitch in Mexico’s history. The striker has played for some of the greatest clubs in the world, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. The Mexican striker has won his fair share of individual honors and collective trophies throughout his career, winning the Premier League on two occasions with Manchester United in the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons.

Chicharito started his career with Guadalajara in his home country way back in 2006. He managed to impress everyone from the very first season as he stayed with the Mexican club for almost four years before making his break and joining the Red Devils in 2010. He got to make 157 appearances for United and managed to score an outstanding 59 goals and provide 20 assists in the process.

Even though the stats might not be comparable to some of the other world-class strikers, Javier Hernandez’s feats stand out solely for the reason that he was usually deployed as a substitute rather than a regular starter. Having joined Sevilla from West Ham in 2019, it did not take him long to make another move and complete one of the

most expensive MLS transfers of all time

by joining LA Galaxy for €8.5 million in 2020. He has since made 12 appearances for the American club, scoring 2 goals in during little over 750 minutes on the pitch.

Alan Pulido

  • Transfer: Chivas-Sporting KC

  • Transfer fee: €8.6M

  • Current club: Sporting KC

Even though the MLS is not as prestigious and esteemed as the top-flights in Europe or Latin America, it is still quite an achievement to complete one of the most expensive transfers in MLS history. One such footballer to have achieved this feat is Alan Pulido, who moved from Mexican side Chivas to Kansas City for reportedly €8.6 million. It almost seems like Americans tend to pay top money to acquire the services of Mexican footballers, as they see class written all over them.

The 29-year-old center-forward started his career at the same

Tigres

club who honorably stood against Bayern Munich in the 2020-21 FIFA Club World Cup. Even though the first couple of seasons in his career did not go as he might have hoped, he did manage to improve his game after joining Chivas from Olympiacos for €6.5 milllion back in 2016.

He got to make a total of 117 appearances for the Mexican side, scoring an impressive 41 goals and providing 7 assists in the process, which persuaded the Sporting Kansas City board into thinking that it was rational enough to pay one of the

most expensive MLS transfer fees ever

to sign the goalscorer.

Brian Fernandez

  • Transfer: Necaxa-Portland Timbers

  • Transfer fee: €9M

  • Current club: CA Colon

Next on our list of

most expensive transfers in MLS history

the Argentine center-forward Brian Fernandez, who made it to the list after joining

Portland Timbers

from Mexican side Necaxa for €9 million. He started his career with Defensa y Justicia back in 2012 and moved on to several other clubs such as Racing, Metz, Sarmiento and finally Necaxa, before joining Portland Timbers for one of the most expensive MLS transfer fees ever in 2019.

Even though Fernandez is versatile enough to play in a multitude of roles on the pitch, and actually managed to record quite an acceptable and even impressive record at the American club by scoring 15 goals and providing 2 assists in a total of 23 appearances, his time with the Timbers did not last long as his contract was terminated in November 2019 and he was left without a club for a while. He has since joined Argentine side CA Colon, with his transfer market value currently believed to be around €6 million.

Alejandro Pozuelo

  • Transfer: Genk-Toronto FC

  • Transfer fee: €9M

  • Current club: Toronto FC

While MLS clubs are known for snatching up footballing icons such as David Beckham and Kaka, they are slowly starting to splash the cash on signing new and young players to further strengthen their squad and invest in the next generation of footballers. Of course 29-year-old Alejandro Pozuelo is certainly not an investment for the future, as he belongs to the previous generation of footballers. But that does not mean that he was not worth the money Toronto FC paid to bring him to the club in 2019.

The Spanish attacking midfielder completed one of the most expensive transfers in MLS history after he moved to Toronto FC from KRC Genk for €9 million. While he had joined his former club from Rayo Vallecano on a free transfer, it cost the MLS side a little less than €10 million to sign the midfield man. Thanks to his immense versatility, he has turned into a vital part of his club, having made a total of 61 appearances since his move to

Toronto FC

, scoring 23 goals and providing 19 assists in the process.

Brian Rodriguez

  • Transfer: Penarol-LAFC

  • Transfer fee: €10.45M

  • Current club: LAFC (On loan at UD Almeria)

Since attracting footballers from top European teams is quite difficult for clubs competing for the MLS title, they prefer to sign the best that they can from South American countries. That is why almost all of those on the list of most expensive transfers in MLS history are from South America or Mexico. Brian Rodriguez is also one such player, who got to have his name on this list after joining LAFC from Penarol for a little over €10 million.

The now 20-year-old winger joined

Los Angeles FC

in 2019, but did not quite live up to the expectations, acting as more of a substitute than a regular starter. That is why the club decided to loan him out to Almeria, who are currently competing in Spain’s second tier, until the end of the 2020-21 season. He is yet to make an appearance for his new club as he eagerly waits for his chance to shine.

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Rodolfo Pizarro

  • Transfer: Monterrey-Inter Miami

  • Transfer fee: €10.91M

  • Current club: Inter Miami

While €11 million is not the highest transfer fee that a club have paid to sign Rodolfo Pizarro, it was still enough to have him complete one of the most expensive transfers in MLS history. Strangely enough, the Mexican attacking midfielder joined Chivas from CF Pachuca for €14.5 million in 2017, and it did not take him long to join Monterrey from Chivas for almost exactly the same figure a season later in 2018.

After staying at Monterrey for a couple of seasons, making a total of 64 appearances and scoring 9 goals while providing 6 assists, Rodolfo Pizarro joined

Inter Miami

for a little less than €11 million in February 2020. It has almost been a year since he joined the MLS side and has since managed to make 20 appearances for his club, equally scoring 4 goals and providing 4 assists in the process.

Brenner

  • Transfer: Sao Paulo-FC Cincinnati

  • Transfer fee: €11.80M

  • Current club: FC Cincinnati

21-year-old center-forward Brenner Souza da Silva, shortly known as Brenner, is next on our list of most expensive transfers in MLS history. The Brazilian youngster started his career at Sao Paulo, having graduated as a Sao Paulo academy product. After two years with the Brazilian club, he joined Fluminense on loan to gain more experience. His time at Sao Paulo was phenomenal as he got to play in 61 games and managed to score a total of 24 goals, providing 4 assists in the process as well.

While providing assists for a traditional center-forward is quite a difficult task, his goalscoring feats at his former club persuaded

FC Cincinnati

that Brenner was worth spending almost €12 million. He has only recently signed for the MLS side, and has not managed to make his debut as of yet, but he is one of the newest footballers to join the list of most expensive transfers in MLS history.

Ezequiel Barco

  • Transfer: Independiente-Atlanta United

  • Transfer fee: €12.20M

  • Current club: Atalanta United

No player on the list of most expensive transfers in MLS history has received as much attention as Ezequiel Barco has over the years since starting his career at Independiente in 2016. Not only has he been praised by many on countless occasions, he has also received an unbelievable potential rating on EA Sports’ FIFA editions year in year out. Of course his potential rating has dropped in recent seasons, as he currently has a potential rating of 85.

Even though videogames are real and cannot be a valid point of reference, they do follow each player’s performance during a particular season. While Barco used to make regular appearances for Atlanta United in the 2017-18 season, his playtime has decreased significantly ever since. Overall, the versatile winger has made 78 appearances for

Atlanta United

, and has managed to score 11 goals and provide 11 assists in the process.

He has been experiencing a dip in form, which is why he needs to put in much more effort if he aims to ever succeed as a footballing icon. Thankfully, there is more than enough time for the Argentine winger to turn the tides in his favor. It is only a matter of time and will.

Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez

  • Transfer: River Plate-Atlanta United

  • Transfer fee: €14.50M

  • Current club: Al-Nassr

Currently topping the list of most expensive transfers in MLS history is

Gonzalo Martinez

, who goes by the nickname Pity. The Argentine attacking midfielder broke the record for the highest transfer fee paid in MLS history as he joined Atlanta United from River Plate for €14.5 million in 2019. While breaking such a record could be an overwhelming one and could boost a footballer’s morale to put in effort more than ever before, the versatile midfielder’s spell at the MLS side did not last long, even though he had a reasonably fine performance during his stay.

Overall, he got to make 54 appearances for Atlanta United and score 11 goals while providing a further 14 assists for his teammates. He is now playing in the Saudi Arabia’s first-tier Professional League after he joined Al-Nassr for a little over €16 million in 2020. The 27-year-old has since managed to score 4 goals and provide 5 assists in 24 appearances for his new club.

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