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Ranking the six most expensive midfielders in football history

Arsenal are on the verge of sealing a record-breaking deal for West Ham captain Declan Rice that could see the midfielder become just the third Premier League player signed for a fee in excess of £100m.

Rice will become the most expensive British footballer of all time with a move to the Emirates and will become one of the priciest transfers in history should a deal be finalised.

Ranking the six most expensive central midfielders in football history.

6. Arthur Melo – £66m

Arthur Melo signed for Juventus as part of a high-profile swap-deal that saw Miralem Pjanic head to Barcelona in the opposite direction, with the former valued at €72 million (£66m) plus up to €10m in add-ons as part of the exchange.

The Brazil international had failed to live up to expectations across two seasons at Barcelona and has since suffered a similar time in Turin, making just 24 league starts across two seasons at Juventus.

He was allowed to leave on loan for Liverpool in 2022/23, but endured a nightmare campaign as he featured for just 13 minutes in an injury-hit time at Anfield.

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His future is now uncertain, while his transfer was one of several studied during an investigation into Juventus’s dealings, one which found evidence of false accounting and saw the Italian side docked 10 points in Serie A last season.

5. Aurélien Tchouaméni – £69.4m

Aurélien Tchouaméni entered this list after signing for Real Madrid from Monaco last summer. The Frenchman had emerged as one of the most in-demand young talents in European football after a brilliant breakthrough at Monaco, with Real Madrid beating competition from PSG and Liverpool to land the midfielder.

Tchouaméni had been named as Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year in 2020/21 and was included in the divisional Team of the Season in consecutive campaigns before his big-money move to Spain, as Real Madrid looked to refresh an ageing engine room.


The deal was worth an initial €80m (£69.4m), but could reach €100m (£85.3m) with add-ons. Tchouaméni made 50 appearances in all competitions during his debut campaign at the Bernabeu and won the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup with Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

He also formed part of the France team that reached the 2022 World Cup final and scored in Les Bleus’ quarter-final win over England in Qatar.

4. Kai Havertz – £72m

Kai Havertz’s exploits in the Bundesliga made the midfielder a transfer target for Europe’s top clubs, with Chelsea winning the race to sign the Bayer Leverkusen star in a £72m deal.

Havertz had scored 29 league goals across his final two seasons at Leverkusen, operating in an advanced midfield role for the German side. He made his mark with the winning goal as Chelsea won the Champions League during his debut campaign in the Premier League, but has often underwhelmed across three seasons at Stamford Bridge.

The Germany international has featured predominantly as a lone forward and has struggled to make an impact at Chelsea, despite flashes of his obvious talent. The 24-year-old is on the verge of completing a transfer to Arsenal after 32 goals in 139 appearances for Chelsea.

3. Jude Bellingham – £88.5m

Jude Bellingham has been placed at number three on this list after completing a move to Real Madrid this summer.

Bellingham turned down interest from the Premier League to sign for the Spanish side from Borussia Dortmund, after three impressive seasons in Germany that culminated in the teenager being named as the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season in 2022/23.

The deal for the 19-year-old is worth a guaranteed €103m (£88.5m), but the fee could rise to around £113m with add-ons and is a figure that could make Bellingham the most expensive English footballer of all time.

The England international will become just the seventh British player to represent Real Madrid after Laurie Cunningham, Steve McManaman, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate and Gareth Bale.

Analysing Jude Bellingham’s impressive 2022/23 statistics

2. Paul Pogba – £89m

Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United in a then-world record £89m deal from Juventus in 2016, four seasons after departing the club on a free transfer.

Pogba had come through the academy system at Manchester United and won the FA Youth Cup alongside the likes of Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison in 2011, but departed when his contract expired in 2012 after becoming frustrated with a lack of first-team opportunities.

Four seasons of excellence at Juventus saw the midfielder win four consecutive Serie A titles and earn inclusion in the Serie A Team of the Year on three occasions, before Manchester United secured his return in a then-record deal.

Pogba spent six seasons with the Red Devils and made 226 appearances in all competitions, but struggled to make the impact anticipated despite Europa League and League Cup success in his debut campaign.

The World Cup winner returned to Juventus on a free transfer when his contract expired in 2022.

1. Enzo Fernandez – £106.8m

Enzo Fernandez is the most expensive central midfielder of all time after Chelsea secured the services of the World Cup winner in a British record deal.

Fernandez’s rise had been meteoric, as he became the Premier League’s record transfer last January just six months after his arrival in Europe. The 22-year-old had signed for Benfica in a €15m deal from River Plate the previous summer, but Fernandez’s fine performances in Portugal and an integral role in Argentina’s World Cup triumph in Qatar persuaded Chelsea to spend big.

Fernandez was named as the FIFA World Cup’s Best Young Player last winter as Argentina were crowned world champions for a third time in the Middle East. He has shown flashes of his talent since arriving into English football, despite a disappointing campaign for Chelsea that saw the west Londoners finish 12th to miss out on European qualification.

He will hope to be a central figure in the Blues’ rebuild under compatriot Mauricio Pochettino next season.

Read – Ranking the eight best attacking midfielders in Premier League history

Read Also – Eight quality midfielders dominating the transfer headlines right now

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