Rewind to the turn of the millennium and the concept of a £100m footballer would have been laughed at, but in the ever-increasing world of transfer fees that landmark has been breached, and then some.
Seemingly on a never ending upward trajectory, football’s financial figures continue to boom and we’ve decided to look back at the most expensive footballers of all-time. These six stars have racked up vast fees throughout their careers, each with varying degrees of success.
Rating football’s highest combined transfer fees in history:
6. Ousmane Dembele – €160m
The French winger makes this list courtesy of a mega-money move to Barcelona in 2017, the Spanish giants shocking Europe by making the talented teenager their record signing in the wake of Neymar’s departure.
Having come through the ranks at Rennes before moving to Germany with Borussia Dortmund, Dembele thrived in his sole season in the Bundesliga before his high profile switch.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a mixed time on a personal level since his arrival from Dortmund two seasons ago, injuries hampering his progress as he bids to establish himself as a key figure at the La Liga side.
He has, however, helped the club to back-to-back league titles and a Copa Del Rey success in his first two seasons at the club, and has time on his side to make a major impact.
5. Angel di Maria – €169.2m
A serial winner with league titles secured in Portugal, Spain and France, the 102 cap Argentina international has been one of the finest wide players of his generation.
The winger became a household name during a spell at Benfica, attracting the interest of Real Madrid before securing a big money move to the Bernabeu. Thriving alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, he would help the Spanish giants to La Liga and Champions League success, before being surprisingly allowed to leave the club in 2014.
A British transfer-record move to Manchester United proved a major disappointment, however, as he struggled to adapt to the demands of English football and departed after just one season. Reigniting his career in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine has helped the capital club to 12 honours, including three titles in four seasons.
4. Philippe Coutinho – €174m
Another Catalan club-record signing, former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho features in this list courtesy of his record move to Barcelona in January 2018.
Having struggled to make an impact after moving to Europe with Inter Milan, Coutinho fulfilled his undoubted potential in the Premier League to become a huge fan’s favourite at Anfield. Five seasons on Merseyside ultimately delivered no silverware, and a mega money move to Spain proved to enticing a proposition to decline.
The move to La Liga proved a major disappointment, however, and despite securing back-to-back La Liga titles he soon found himself out of favour and unwanted. Loaned to German giants Bayern Munich for the new season, the Bavarians have the option to push the Brazilian further up this list by completing a €120m permanent deal at the end of the campaign.
3. Kylian Mbappe – €180m
The boy wonder burst onto the scene in the exciting Monaco side which won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2017, before seeing their finest talent cherry-picked by Europe’s leading clubs.
Mbappe would be one such starlet prized away from the principality club, becoming the second most expensive player in football history when joining divisional rivals Paris Saint-Germain. His impact in the French capital has been instant, winning two league titles and establishing himself as the club’s key figure despite the presence of more established teammates.
Having helped France to World Cup success, becoming the first teenager to score in the final since Pele, he was be named French Player of the Year after scoring 33 goals in just 29 Ligue 1 appearances. Still just 20 years of age, the sky is seemingly the limit for Mbappe.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – €221m
It’s fair to say that each of Cristiano Ronaldo’s clubs have got significant value for money from the Portuguese superstar.
Signed as a teenager from Sporting Lisbon by Manchester United, he would flourish into one of the world’s finest players during a six season stay at Old Trafford. His time in the Premier League would bring three league titles and the 2008 Champions League, whilst winning the first of his joint-record five Ballon d’Or awards that same year.
After 118 goals in 298 appearances he would join boyhood club Real Madrid in a world-record deal, where he would break a whole host of footballing records.
Four Ballon d’Or awards, four Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles were the highlights of a glittering Real career, while he would also eclipse Raul as the club’s all-time record goalscorer having score a barely believable 450 goals in 438 appearances.
The 34-year-old would move on once more to Juventus in 2018, where he would win the Serie A title and be named as the division’s most valuable player during his debut season in Turin. Hopes are high that the forward’s presence can help the Italian side to a long-awaited Champions League triumph, and who better to lead their charge than the tournament’s record goalscorer.
1. Neymar – €308.2m
The most expensive player football history, and a vastly inflated deal which had repercussions throughout the transfer market, Paris Saint-Germain made a statement signing with the capture of the Brazilian forward from Barcelona in 2017.
The French club activated the €222m release clause in his contract, making him both the most expensive footballer of all-time and the most expensive in combined transfer fees.
Regarded as Brazilian football’s brightest prospect at Santos, Neymar thrived in European football upon moving to the Nou Camp. Part of a deadly front three alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, the trio would fire Barcelona to the Treble in 2015.
Following a high profile move to France, the forward initially had a bright start to like in Paris, being named as the Ligue 1 player of the year after firing his new team to the title. His second season was hampered by injuries and off-field controversies, whilst his agitation for a move back to Barcelona this summer has made him an unpopular figure.
A record of 54 goals in just 62 appearances is impressive, though he has so far failed to elevate PSG to the latter stages of Europe’s biggest stage.
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— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) October 3, 2019