The 22 most expensive transfer deals in football history

When managing a football club, it’s important to recognise your players and value them accordingly. Some clubs are willing to pay a load of money for a certain player’s talent so they can fill one of their empty spots.

From the world’s first transfer in 1893 for the humble sum of £100 to the new worldwide transfers of almost £200m, it’s clear that football transfers can get wild in terms of value. It becomes a battle to get that one outstanding player who could decide their season or help win the trophy for them.

Join us as we look at 22 of football’s most expensive transfer deals. If you want your slice of the action, why not check out the odds and place a bet on the Premier League? With games full of twists and drama weekly, there’s always something exciting waiting for you in English football’s top flight.

 22. Jadon Sancho

Though his career started in English football, Jadon played in the German leagues with Borussia Dortmund until he attracted Manchester United’s interest. Eventually, they agreed on a hefty transfer fee of £73m in 2021. Sancho boasts impressive midfielder stats, providing assists and amazing long shots.

 21. Virgil van Dijk

The Dutch-born player found his career in the southern England city of Southampton, where he remained until 2018. Liverpool was keen on his defensive capabilities, eventually reaching a settlement of £75m for Virgil. While Southampton relished the chance to earn such a large amount, Liverpool gained a vital asset for their team.

 20. Gonzalo Higuaín

Although Argentine player Gonzalo played for Napoli until 2016, he was constantly under Juventus’s eyes. Juventus wanted their new striker, and they got him. Eventually, with some haggling, they settled on a fee of £75.3m to secure their new signing. Gonzalo scored more than 60 goals for Juventus before being sold into the American leagues, where he retired two seasons later.

 19. Joško Gvardiol

This Croatian defender used to play for RB Leipzig but found himself under the watchful eye of Manchester City, who previously lost two key players due to their contracts expiring. Manchester City found him to be a perfect fit for their club and ended up paying £77m, making him the second most expensive defender on this list.

 18. Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire, the English defender who plays as part of the England national football team, previously played for Leicester City. In 2019, he was sold to Manchester United for the grand sum of £80m, making him the most expensive defender on this list. He provides a solid defence for his club and a wall to the opposition.

 17. Antony

Antony is one of a large number of Brazilian players. Playing for Ajax, a Dutch club based in Amsterdam, he was targeted by one of the big clubs in the Premiership: Manchester United. They paid Ajax £82m for his midfielder services, alongside his Brazilian national service experience.

 16. Gareth Bale

This Welsh football national was watched by many clubs in his career, especially in 2013 when Real Madrid offered his club, Tottenham Hotspur, a sum of £86m, which was the highest amount ever paid for a Welsh football player. Specialising up front with his pace and free kicks, he provided a valuable service to Madrid.

 15. Harry Kane

Captain of the England national team, Harry Kane was the main striker and captain of the English Premiership team Tottenham Hotspur, where he bagged hundreds of goals and assists with his team. In 2023, he found himself without a contract and on his way towards Bayern Munich for the rather generous amount of £86.5m, which was a bargain for a man of such talent.

 14. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo does not need any introduction, as he has captured the hearts of many football fans worldwide regardless of nationality. He spent most of his career at Real Madrid until 2018 when Juventus purchased his services for £88m. Ronaldo flexed his muscles and scored repeatedly, whether from a free kick or curling it past the keeper.

 13. Jude Bellingham

Jude is an English midfielder who moved from Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund; talk about an upgrade. Eventually, he moved to Real Madrid for £88.5m. Jude is considered one of the world’s best, and rightly so, he made regular appearances for England’s national team, assisting and scoring very impressive longshots from outside the box.

 12. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba is a French national football player who played in the Italian leagues until 2016 for Juventus when the English leagues came knocking in the form of Manchester United. United was looking for a new midfielder, and both clubs settled on £89m for his services. He served Manchester United faithfully until he eventually moved back to Juventus later in his career.

 11. Ousmane Dembélé

Dembele played for Borussia Dortmund until FC Barcelona came knocking on their door to do business. They eventually settled on £97m for the Frenchman, who often played for the French national team with other great players. His skill and determination reflect his price tag, and any other club would be happy to have this player up front, shooting in front of the goal.

 10. Romelu Lukaku

In 2021, Chelsea found themselves requiring a new forward striker to fill and strengthen their squad. After looking at their options, they found Lukaku playing at Inter Milan in Italy, and they offered a hefty sum of £97.5m. The deal provided Chelsea with their new star player and was a record signing for the club.

 9. Moisés Caicedo

In 2023, Chelsea needed a new midfield player to fill the gap in their squad. Looking at their options and seemingly unlimited funds, they finally settled on Caicedo from Brighton and Hove Albion. Eventually, they paid the nice round £100m price for his expertise and precise playing style, further giving them another record signing.

 8. Declan Rice

This English national football player was in the spotlight during the 2023 transfer. Formerly playing for West Ham, his services were sold to Arsenal for the hefty sum of £100m to strengthen their midfield position. Rice is currently proving himself to be well worth the money.

 7. Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish is a well-known football player who really got his career started with the Premier League club Aston Villa; however, when Manchester City was looking to strengthen their wing positions, they went after him. City eventually paid Aston Villa the grand sum of £100m. Aside from making regular appearances for the England national team, Grealish always proves his worth with his skill, both on and off the pitch.

 6. Antoine Griezmann

This French national football team member found himself in the position of record-breaking transfer speculations when Barcelona needed a new forward to provide more support. Eventually, Atletico Madrid was paid a whopping £107m for Griezmann to join FC Barcelona as their new striker.

 5. Enzo Fernandez

This midfielder is often regarded as one of the best in the world, formerly playing for the Portuguese team Benfica. Chelsea targeted him this season and was approached with an eye-watering transfer sum of £107m. The Argentine also plays for the Argentina national football team and was present when they won the World Cup in Qatar.

 4. João Félix

This Benfica player and Portuguese national team member had to be careful when his club sold him to Atletico Madrid in 2019 for £112.9m. As one of the best players in the world, the price paid for him was clearly worth it as he is a frequent first-team member, with many goals and assists to boast.

 3. Philippe Coutinho

This Brazilian national player used to spend his days in the Premiership for Liverpool Football Club until he was eventually sold to La Liga for £145m. The deal was a massive payday for Liverpool and a considerable boost to Madrid’s striking power. He adds lots of finesse and skills to his team’s performance.

 2. Kylian Mbappé

The GOAT clearly doesn’t need an introduction, as Kylian Mbappe is often referred to as the best football player of all time. Mbappe has played for Paris Saint-Germain for five years after moving from Monaco, and they paid a rather humble £163m for him.

Such a price tag is definitely more than fair for someone who scored the world’s second hat trick in a World Cup final, even though France lost. Mbappe’s price reflects his performance, and boy, does it show.

 1. Neymar

Here we go! The highest-selling player of all time. To no surprise, Neymar should be regarded as one of the best with Mbappe. He found himself in the targets of PSG in 2017, who were prepared to spend top dollar for this Brazilian. The club ended up paying a whopping £198m for his skill; anyone watching him play understands why Neymar is worth this much.

Honourable mention: Trevor Francis

Trevor Francis was a legend during the early days of British football. He played for major clubs like Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and the England National Team, just to name a few. In 1979, he was sold to Nottingham Forest for the grand sum of £1m, becoming the first British player ever to sell for a million pounds.

Sadly, in 2023, he died at the age of 69 after winning many cups and European leagues for his clubs.

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