The biggest football transfers of all time

Football transfer fees seemingly increase almost every single year, with clubs’ spending more and more money than ever before in their pursuit of domestic and European success.

The most expensive football transfer fees have by and large been paid out in the last five years, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2009 move from Manchester United to Real Madrid the exception in the current top-10 list.

Pos. Player Clubs Year Fee
1 Neymar Barcelona – PSG 2017 £198m
2 Kylian Mbappe Monaco – PSG 2017 £116m
3 Joao Felix Benfica- Atletico Madrid 2019 £114.1m
4 Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid – Barcelona 2019 £107m
5 Philippe Coutinho Liverpool – Barcelona 2018 £105m
6 Ousmane Dembele Borussia Dortmund – Barcelona 2017 £97m
7 Paul Pogba Juventus – Real Madrid 2016 £89m
8 Eden Hazard Chelsea – Real Madrid 2019 £89m
9 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid – Juventus 2018 £88m
10 Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur – Real Madrid 2013 £86m


The biggest transfer fee paid this calendar year is Joao Felix’s switch from Benfica to Atletico Madrid in July for £114.1million, while the highest involving a Premier League club this summer was Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid from Chelsea for £89million.

If you look back in time, big transfers don’t necessarily involve big fees and here highlight some of the most high profile deals which have taken place over the years.

2017 – Kylian Mbappe – Monaco to Paris St Germain – £120million

The 19-year-old lit up the World Cup this summer, but he hit the headlines in 2017 when becoming the most expensive teenager, and the world’s second most expensive player when swapping Monaco for fellow French side Paris St Germain.

Due to Financial Fair Play rulings, he initially joined on loan, before making the move permanent in 2018, but Mbappe was always destined for the big stage after helping Monaco to the title in 2017 – their first in 17 years.

2017 – Neymar – Barcelona to Paris St Germain – £198million

Neymar currently sits top of the pile for world record transfer fees having moved from Barcelona to Paris St Germain and completely smash the previous world record of Paul Pogba’s move back to Manchester United.

The 26-year-old had already completed the continental treble while with the Spanish giants – La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League before following that with the domestic double the following season ahead of his big-money move.

Since arriving in France his glittering record continues having scooped the domestic treble of Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue.

His move from Santos in Brazil to Barcelona also makes the top-10 transfers of all time, a then transfer record for the sale of a teenager at £71.5 million.

2018 – Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid to Juventus – £88.5million

Ronaldo called it a day with Real Madrid after picking up his fifth Champions League title back in May and he opted for a new challenge in Italy with Juventus.

Now, 33, the Portuguese star still went for a fee of £88.5 million – similar to the fee in which he joined Real from Manchester United back in 2009.

The Italian giants have already seen a massive return on his signing – with more ‘Ronaldo 7’ shirts sold than they had throughout the 2017-18 campaign – before they even started their Serie A 2018-19 campaign.

He went on to win the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana in his first full season in Turin.

2016 – Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United – £89million

A lot has changed in the transfer world since Pogba made the move back to Manchester United for a then-record £89million.

Pogba was a player Sir Alex Ferguson had let go on a free transfer in 2012, but the Frenchman enjoyed a meteoric rise in Italy where he helped Juventus to four Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia’s and two Italian Super Cups.

Since returning he has helped the Red Devils to the Europa League, but talks are being mooted that he could be on the move once more with Barcelona a potential destination.

2000 – Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid – £37million

Although this transfer was almost 20 years ago, it’s currently the 28th biggest transfer to have ever taken place when he joined Real Madrid from rivals Barcelona in 2000 for a then-record fee.

He certainly caused controversy when making the switch and a pig’s head was thrown at the Portuguese star in an El Clasico encounter.

The move proved to be worthwhile though with two La Liga and Spanish Cup titles, a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and an Intercontinental Cup.

2011 – Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid to Manchester City – £38 million

He may not get anywhere near the record in terms of the fee paid, but the impact he has had at the Etihad and the Premier League is there for all to see.

The 32-year-old has scored 201 goals for the 2014 and 2017 League champions, and though he’s never been able to lift the Champions League yet, his record speaks for itself, despite spending over six months on the treatment table during his stay in Manchester.

2001 – Gianluigi Buffon – Parma to Juventus – £33 million

Until last summer, the Italian still held the record from way back in 2001 for the most expensive goalkeeper – but that has been surpassed twice this summer with Chelsea and Liverpool’s acquisitions of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson Becker respectively.

Despite the big money paid for him, he stood the test of time and it wasn’t until this summer that he left the Italian giants for Paris St Germain.

His 17 seasons with Juve brought about 11 Serie A titles, 1 Serie B, 4 Coppa Italia and five Italian Super Cup wins – a total of 21 major honours.

2001 – Zinedine Zidane – Juventus to Real Madrid – £46.6million

Zidane joined Real Madrid in 2001 and lived up to his billing immediately.

In his first season he scored one of the most iconic Champions League Final goals and in his 5-year Madrid stay, he won a La Liga title alongside the Champions League, but after retiring, he managed Real to 3 Champions League titles in a row.

Zidane is remembered as one of the greatest midfielders to play the game and was named FIFA World Player of the Year during his time in Spain

2003 – David Beckham – Manchester United to Real Madrid – £25million

Another of the Galacticos era, Beckham joined Real in a £25m deal.

During his time at the Bernabeu, the Spanish giants only won 1 league title and a Spanish Super Cup, however, the impact of his arrival on a global scale proved to be a massive hit for Real.

The former England captain won Real Madrid Player of the Year in 2005-06, and after leaving Real won three more titles in the US and France.

1996 – Alan Shearer – Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United – £15 million

When Shearer moved to Newcastle, his hometown club, for a then world-record fee of £15m, he was already a title winner and had won back-to-back Premier League Golden Boots.

Despite not winning any silverware at St James’ Park, he will forever be a legend on Tyneside, scoring 148 goals for Newcastle, with whom he retired in 2006.

Shearer holds the record for most ever Premier League goals, with 260, and scored 30 goals for England.

The most expensive football transfers from 1914 to 2019 

The record transfer fees have changed dramatically over recent years, but here we chart the most expensive deals, all the way back from 1914 to 2019.

Year Player Selling club Buying club Fee (uk £)
2017 Neymar Barcelona Paris Saint-Germain 198,000,000
2016 Paul Pogba Juventus Manchester United 89,000,000
2013 Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur Real Madrid 90,454,903
2009 Kaká Milan Real Madrid 68,933,036
2009 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United Real Madrid 98,475,766
2001 Zinedine Zidane Juventus Real Madrid 69,816,449
2000 Hernán Crespo Parma Lazio 54,834,955
2000 Luís Figo Barcelona Real Madrid 57,151,924
1999 Christian Vieri Lazio Internazionale 51,049,447
1998 Denílson São Paulo Real Betis 34,718,967
1997 Ronaldo Barcelona Internazionale 32,568,737
1996 Ronaldo PSV Eindhoven Barcelona 22,738,197
1996 Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers Newcastle United 25,838,860
1992 Jean-Pierre Papin Marseille Milan 18,991,397
1992 Gianluca Vialli Sampdoria Juventus 22,789,677
1992 Gianluigi Lentini Torino Milan 24,688,816
1990 Roberto Baggio Fiorentina Juventus 16,686,521
1987 Ruud Gullit PSV Eindhoven Milan 15,488,011
1984 Diego Maradona Barcelona Napoli 14,748,314
1982 Diego Maradona Boca Juniors Barcelona 9,716,083
1976 Paolo Rossi Juventus Vicenza 11,559,097
1975 Giuseppe Savoldi Bologna Napoli 9,237,684
1973 Johan Cruyff Ajax Barcelona 10,232,704
1968 Pietro Anastasi Varese Juventus 7,957,866
1967 Harald Nielsen Bologna Internazionale 4,997,098
1963 Angelo Sormani Mantova Roma 4,804,222
1961 Luis Suárez Barcelona Internazionale 3,105,049
1957 Enrique Omar Sivori River Plate Juventus 2,057,699
1954 Juan Schiaffino Penarol Milan 1,809.071
1952 Hans Jeppson Atalanta Napoli 1,373,110
1951 Jackie Sewell Notts County Sheffield Wednesday 994,474
1950 Trevor Ford Aston Villa Sunderland 943,332
1949 Johnny Morris Manchester United Derby County 778,165
1949 Eddie Quigley Sheffield Wednesday Preston North End 859,224
1932 Bernabe Ferreryra Tigre River Plate 1,465,238
1928 David Jack Bolton Wanderers Arsenal 602,148
1925 Bob Kelly Burnley Sunderland 340,224
1922 Syd Puddlefoot West Ham United Falkirk 250,564
1922 Warney Cresswell South Shields Sunderland 275,621
1920 David Jack Plymouth Argyle Bolton Wanderers 129,019
1914 Perry Dawson Heart of Midlothian Blackburn Rovers 220,182


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