Spanish clubs were once again Europe’s biggest spenders this summer, with La Liga’s top three of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid the three highest spending teams on the continent.
Another host of expensive recruits have headed to Spanish football in 2019, but how have the country’s all-time priciest purchases fared since their big-money moves?
We’ve looked back at Spanish football’s most expensive signings, and ranked the costliest six in La Liga history…
Eden Hazard – €100m
The Chelsea superstar finally secured his dream move to Real Madrid this summer, the Spanish giants having held a long-standing interest in the Belgian international. In seven seasons in English football Hazard had established himself as one of the Premier League‘s finest talents, winning two league titles and earning a host of individual accolades including the PFA Player’s Player and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
Hazard headed to the Bernabeu last summer for an initial fee of around €100m, and has been tasked with replacing the creative and goalscoring void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2018 departure.
His start has been underwhelming thus far, showing only glimpses of his talent with many questioning his work-rate.
Hazard himself admits he arrived at the club overweight, and having scored just once in his first 11 appearances for the club in all competitions he will need to start performing soon to avoid being labelled a flop.
Few players are under as much pressure as the marquee man in Madrid, and Hazard will hope his dream move does not turn into a nightmare.
Gareth Bale – €94m
Ignoring his recent troubles in the Spanish capital, it is hard to argue that Gareth Bale is not one of Britain’s greatest footballing exports. The Welsh international moved to Real Madrid in a then world-record deal from Tottenham in 2013, helping the club end their long wait for La Decima by scoring the winner as Madrid won their tenth European Cup.
Since then Bale has added one La Liga title and three further Champions League trophies, including an incredible match-winning display off the bench to beat Liverpool in the 2018 final of the latter tournament in Kyiv.
In 234 appearances he has scored 104 goals for the club, winning 13 honours in a trophy-laden period in Madrid. His failure to truly integrate into Spanish life and difficult relationship with manager Zinedine Zidane makes his future uncertain, though his achievements have been matched by few on this list.
Ousmane Dembele – €105m
Neymar’s world-record departure to Paris Saint-Germain saw Barcelona spend big in a bid to bolster their attacking options, making Borussia Dortmund star Ousmane Dembele the then second-most expensive player in football history in 2017.
The France international had spent just one season at the German side after joining from Rennes, though Barcelona were sufficiently impressed to bring the winger to the Nou Camp in a club-record deal.
Dembele would win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in an injury-hit first season, making just 23 appearances in all competitions. His output improved in 2018/19, scoring 14 times in all competitions as a second successive league title was secured.
In two seasons he is yet to truly justify his significant fee, whilst questions have also been asked over his attitude. The World Cup winner certainly possesses the talent to shine at the highest level and at just 22, Barcelona will hope he can fulfil his undoubted potential.
Antoine Griezmann – €120m
Having scored 94 La Liga goals in just 180 appearances during a five year spell at Atletico Madrid, Spanish champions Barcelona decided to raid their divisional rivals to secure the signing of the World Cup winning star in 2019.
The French forward moved to the Nou Camp in a deal worth €120m, where he joined a potent attacking line-up including the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Regarded as one of the finest forwards in Spanish football, it was hoped Griezmann would perfectly compliment the Catalan side’s existing options but it has been a difficult adaptation so far.
Despite scoring four times in 11 La Liga appearances, it has been questioned whether Griezmann’s style is suited to getting the best out of Messi – the key for any Barcelona boss – whilst his favoured position as a second striker does not exist in the club’s current set-up.
More is expected of Griezmann than what he has currently produced, but undoubtedly an elite talent, he is likely to improve as he continues to settle into life at the club.
Joao Felix – €126m
Despite being regarded as one of European football’s most promising talents, Atletico Madrid’s record-breaking capture of the Portuguese starlet shocked the continent. The talented teenager had spent just one full season in the Benfica first-team, though after watching the forward score 20 goals in all competitions, Atletico smashed their transfer-record to bring Felix to Spain.
The 19-year-old became the fourth most expensive signing in football history, moving to the Spanish capital to replace the outgoing Antoine Griezmann. Felix made his senior international debut for Portugal this past summer and has impressed in his first appearances for Atletico colours, opening his La Liga account with a goal against Eibar in September and scoring three times in 11 appearances so far.
The youngster will have to continue adapting to the incessant demands of Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who often places a huge work-load on his attacking players.
A versatile player capable of playing as a forward or a deeper role, he looks to have the potential to develop into one of Europe’s leading players.
Philippe Coutinho – €160m
The most expensive signing in La Liga history, Brazil international Coutinho described his 2018 move to Barcelona as a ‘dream come true’. The midfielder had established himself as one of the best attacking talents in the Premier League during a five-year stay at Liverpool, before opting to move to Spain after a protracted chase by the Catalan side.
Having initially adapted impressively to life in La Liga, helping the club to a league and cup double following his record-breaking January move, Coutinho’s performance dipped drastically in his first full season.
The former Inter Milan star had been a key figure at Anfield but struggled to find his role in the Barcelona side, his influence minimal and saw him often targeted for criticism after a series of below-par displays.
After just 18 months in Spain he was deemed surplus to requirements and allowed to leave the club, joining Bayern Munich on a season-long loan deal.