Most Expensive Forwards of All Time
It is time to take a look at some of the most expensive forwards of all time and find out who they are:
We have previously looked at the most expensive players from each position, whether they were goalkeepers, defenders or midfielders, but now we have come to the final position that we haven’t covered yet and that is the forward position. Regardless of the era that they played in, forwards usually have had more of a spotlight on them and that is no different when it comes to transfers as the most expensive player of all time is usually a forward, as is the case right now with PSG’s Neymar.
As players who often score the goals and impact the game hugely going forward, strikers and forwards has always been valued highly in the game as you are about to see in our list. Those valuations sometimes seem to be a bit too high as no player in the world would be worth a quarter a billion and this unjust valuation has inflated the transfer market quite a lot but those are the realities of the game and only club owners can change that. However, we are here to take a look at
most expensive forwards of all time
, so let’s get right down to it without any further ado:
Top 10 Most Expensive Forwards of All Time
Unlike our previous lists covering all positions, which were full of transfers that happened in the Premier League, the top 10 most expensive forwards of all time are spread between 3 leagues, with half the transfers happening in the La Liga. But let’s see who are these players:
10. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid)
Back in 2013, Barcelona had just bought Neymar from Santos and Real Madrid were looking to bolster their attack so what better way to recruit a world-class player than looking at the Premier League, since it worked out so well for them in Cristiano Ronaldo’s case. And so Real Madrid decided to bring in Gareth Bale from Tottenham and break the world transfer record which they paid for Cristiano Ronaldo, making Gareth Bale the most expensive player in football history.
In hindsight it’s tough to really judge Bale’s time at Real Madrid. The Welshman has had incredible highs at Bernabeu in the past decade but has also been injured numerous times and has fallen out of favor with the fans in the past couple of years as his injuries started to pile up and rumors of him being more interested in golf than football started circulating around.
While his transfer to Real Madrid was by no means a flop, it has constantly been debated as not a right one for both parties, however when you look at his numbers, performances and what he has achieved with Real Madrid, which makes him one of the most decorated British players ever, then you realize that everything is not as black and white. Bale scored 106 goals in 256 matches during his 9-year stay at Madrid, one of which was spent on loan on his belovedTottenham
where he did quite well in a mid-table Tottenham side.
The transfer fee that Real Madrid paid for him which was around €101 million and made him the most expensive player in football history. When you consider the ever seems reasonable when you consider that 2La Liga
, 1 Copa del Rey and 4 Champions League trophies that he won with Real Madrid, not to mention the 2018 Champions League final where he came off the bench to score twice and make Real Madrid Champions of Europe once again, it is tough to argue that the fee they paid for Bale was not worth it.
9. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan to Chelsea)
Romelu Lukaku holds the record for having the highest transfer fees of all time with all of his 6 transfers combined. The Belgian striker’s services has been worth a whopping €325.56m ever since he left Anderlecht to join Chelsea in 2011. Over the years Lukaku has had to constantly prove himself, possibly because his style of playing, while effective, is reminiscent of the 90s and early 2000s strikers and there are few managers who could make that work.
While the Belgian was never given the chance the first time around atChelsea
, Everton became the place where he honed his skills as a striker. Then came the Manchester United transfer which never suited him butInter Milan
became his saving grace as he helped the Nerrazzuri claim the scudetto once again. Which leads us to the transfer that made him one of the most expensive forwards of all time when Chelsea decided to bring him back to Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku’s first big transfer following his Chelsea departure in 2014 was when after he hit the net 25 times during the 2016-17 season at Everton. the Red Devils ended up securing his signature by paying Everton €84.7 million, which at the time was the 2nd biggest transfers in Premier League history. But they ended up selling him to Internazionale for €74m. after scoring 64 times in 95 games for Inter and winning the Serie A as well as Serie A MVP award, Lukaku decided to once again join Chelsea, stating that he had “unfinished business” at the club.
And so Romelu Lukaku joined Chelsea once again for a transfer fee of €113m which makes him one of the
most expensive players in the world in 2022
. The transfer saga surrounding it and the way he left Inter brought down a lot of heat on Lukaku, not to mention unnecessary pressure which made things a lot harder for him. As it stands, his transfer has not worked at all in anyone’s favor since, Chelsea’s manager Thomas Tuchel doesn’t really believe in him and Lukaku himself hasn’t been performing when he has been given the chance to. And now with the Roman Abramovic situation, Lukaku’s future at Chelsea is even more obscure. So, we’ll have to wait and see what happens to him in the next summer.
8. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid)
There have been a lot of discussions surrounding the biggest transfer flops of all time and while there are a lot of disastrous transfers that could carry such a title, no one deserves it more than Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard. Once considered to be a player capable of reaching the performance levels of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, Eden Hazard never shied away from revealing his dream of playing for Real Madrid while he was tearing it up in the Premier League and so expectations were high when he joined them.
But it was only downhill from then on for Hazard as he has been nothing but a shadow of his former self, which is mainly due to his numerous injuries that has plagued his time at the Bernabeu. At an age where he has to be at the peak of his career and whenReal Madrid
can’t afford for a player of Hazard’s caliber to not perform either, the Belgian’s performances have seemingly fallen off a cliff, as he barely even gets playing time anymore, even as a substitute, let alone a starter.
So as Hazard goes into the third year of his 5-year contract, which sees him earn almost €32 million a year, after a transfer that cost Real Madrid €115 million, a fee that could very well rise to €146 million, the jury is still out on his time with Los Blancos. 6 goals in 65 games is just not enough to justify him being one of
top 10 most expensive forwards of all time
which leaves Eden Hazard with a lot to prove, both to himself and his doubters but it’s doubtful that he’ll get the time to do so.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus)
Next up we have the most expensive Serie A signing ever and he is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese megastar shook the world in the summer of 2018 when he announced to the world that he would be leaving Real Madrid, the club he had won 4 Champions League titles with, to switch over to play for Juventus. Although on a personal level, Cristiano Ronaldo was taking names and kicking ass in the Serie A, his 3 seasons with the Turin club, before his €15m departure to his beloved Manchester United this last summer, has been judged unsuccessful by some.
After becoming Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer with 450 goals in 438 matches, and winning multiple trophies with them, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus to help them take the next step, as the club was pursuing Champions League glory aggressively, and who better to bring in but the expert who has won it 5 times. Their pursuit, at least with Ronaldo in their side, wasn’t successful and it wasn’t for Ronaldo’s lack of trying either!
In fact, Cristiano Ronaldo performed as was expected of him in his time atJuventus
, scoring 101 goals in 137 matches which won him a Capocannoniere (top goalscorer) last season as well as helped him become Serie A Footballer of the year twice.
Ronaldo Juventus win 2 Serie A title as well as a Coppa Italia and despite Juventus not winning the Champions League and a lot of talk surrounding his stay at Turin, no sane person can deny that he was worth every penny of the €117 million Juventus paid for him to Real Madrid, which made him one of the most expensive forwards of all time. Juventus has sure made all that money back and then some before shipping him back to Old Trafford in a €15 million deal this last summer.
6. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City)
This was a transfer saga that dragged on for years and is one of the freshest ones on this list since it happened not to long ago and is one of the
most expensive football transfers in 2022
. The formerAston Villa
captain Jack Grealish had rumors surrounding his departure from the Villa Park ever since he made his debut for the club in 2012 and he finally decided on his next destination this past summer, in a transfer that didn’t seem to bother many Villa fans since Grealish gave it all for the club in the years that he played for them and his hefty transfer fee was invested back into squad to bring in quality players.
however, the transfer made a lot of sense since Grealish is exactly the type of player that Pep Guardiola and City like to sign, a dynamic winger that could as easily play the role of a playmaker, capable of taking on players, creating space for his teammates and deliver some world class chances and passes. The fact that Grealish was a Premier League veteran and had proven himself even in sides that were in the relegation zone was a bonus for Guardiola and Manchester City since it signaled that he is ready for action.
However, it hasn’t been that easy for Grealish to adapt at City since he has struggled with some injuries as well as having to come to grips with the fact that he is not the main man of a team now and has to change his style to become maybe more of a team player, not to mention the insane amount of competition he has from world class players around him.
But it all seems to lead to a good outcome since Jack Grealish is slowly adapting to life at City, his fantastic display at the recent Manchester Derby being proof of that. Which could mean the €117.5m that Manchester City paid Aston Villa to trigger Grealish’s release clause that made him one of the most expensive forwards of all time is finally bearing fruit!
5. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona)
The first Barcelona player to appear on our list of most expensive football transfers in 2022 is Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman was for years linked with a move to Barcelona and finally did so in the summer of 2019, but just like Eden Hazard, his move didn’t pan out the way he or Barca wanted it to. And it is a shame since Griezmann was constantly amongst the top 5 players in the world prior to him joining Barcelona. His time at Barcelona seems to be ending too as he was loaned back toAtletico
and could be signed by the Madrid club for a fraction of what they sold him to Barcelona for.
After years of excellent performances at Atletico, Griezmann, who is also a World Cup winner, was deemed by Barcelona to be the player that could link up with Messi and lessen the blow of the Argentine’s eventual departure. But after things not working out for him at the club, Barcelona just couldn’t afford a player with his kind of transfer fee and weekly wages to stay at the club, hence his eventual loan move.
Antoine Griezmann scored 35 goals in his 102 matches for Barcelona. While those numbers are not at all bad, they weren’t up to the standards Griezmann had put up for himself. Standards that earned him a €120 million price tag that Barcelona paid for him, which has made him one of the
most expensive forwards of all time
. The Frenchman is also earning €34 million a year, a salary is now being paid in part by Atletico. His old club has the option to buy him for a third of the price they earned from his sale, but this season Griezmann hasn’t been performing at Atletico either.
4. Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid)
A constant theme in the top transfers of La Liga is that most of those transfers, several of which are on this list, are either outright flops or are yet to justify their price tag. Of course, that is natural when the price and the expectations are too high. This is also the case with the transfer of Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid, although not an outright flop, the 2019 Golden Boy winner didn’t become the next big thing as Atletico hoped he would but he has somewhat adjusted to life in Spain and has definitely had his moments at the club, namely helping the club win the La Liga last season.
A product ofBenfica
youth system, Felix broke out into Benfica’s first team in the 2018-19 season, where he scored 20 goals in 43 games, and naturally his strong performances there attracted numerous suitors across Europe but in the end, he chose Atletico Madrid, which is still seems like an odd choice since he is a young attacker in need of further development and the club are famous for their notoriously defensive tactics.
Nonetheless, Felix joined Atletico from Benfica in what was a reported amount of €127.2 million at the start of 2019-20 season, making him one of the top 10 most expensive forwards of all time. He has since scored 27 goals in 104 matches for Atletico and is on his way to surpass his goal tally of last season (10) soon. However, he may choose to leave the club come summer since he hasn’t reached the levels he seemed to be capable of when he first joined Atletico.
3. Ousmane Demebele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona)
Another extravagant transfer saga which happened during the peculiar reign of Bartomeu as Barcelona’s chairman is the transfer Ousmane Dembele fromBorussia Dortmund
. The Frenchman was one of the most talented young players in world football which earned him that hefty fee, but the numerous injuries he has had since joining Barca has put a question mark on why he is one of the most expensive players in the world in 2022.
Dembele who is ambidextrous, seems to have the ability to run and dribble past any defender. Add to that his blistering pace and his ability to score from long range efforts and you’ll end up with a perfect candidate to groom for the future of Barcelona. That is all well until you take into account that he has lost a staggering amount of almost 500 days because of injuries which is nearly half the time he has been a Barcelona player. There is almost no way that a high-profile transfer like this could turn worse, both for the player and the club.
His contract extension saga adds to that drama as he is now hated by the fans since he refused to sign a new contract or leave the club in January. All this points to the fact that Ousmane Dembele was not really worth his price tag of €130 million and being one of most expensive forwards of all time.
2. Kylian Mbappe (AS Monaco to Paris Saint Germain)
Almost the total opposite of Dembele’s story is that of Kylian Mbappe. While both players broke out roughly around the same time and had both immense talent, their careers couldn’t have gone more differently. One of the few teenage World Cup Winners in the history of the sport, Mbappe truly burst into the scene in the 2016-17 season when he helped Monaco break PSG’s total domination overLigue 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 clubs interested in Mpabbe in the summer of 2017 and finally PSG succeeded in bringing him to Paris, in a loan deal that would be made permanent after a season. A deal that made him one of the
most expensive forwards 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.
Mbappe working alongside Neymar and Cavani or Di Maria and now Leo Messi has made sure that PSG’s attack seem entirely unstoppable. Mbappe himself has scored 158 goals in 207 matches and he seems to be improving his numbers every year. His €145 million price tag is totally deserved considering the quality he has brought to PSG but he seems to be heading out of the club to join his beloved Real Madrid which could be a shame for PSG because they will lose him on a free transfer.
1. Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain)
We all know this was coming, who could be
most expensive player in football history
but the Brazilian Neymar. 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 atPSG
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 parts 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 3 Ligue 1 titles, 3 Coupe de France, and 2 Coupe de la Ligue in addition to helping them to a Champions League final. He has also scored 92 goals in 136 games which boasts of a 0.67 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 in 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. But with his new deal at PSG, the Brazilian is set to stay at the club and it is doubtful that his immense price tag which makes him No 1 amongst the most expensive forwards of all time is broken anytime soon.
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