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Ranking the most expensive footballers in Premier League history

Premier League sides boast riches the envy of European football with England’s top clubs regularly breaking transfer records for new signings.

This summer has already seen several big-money deals, with Arsenal’s capture of Declan Rice from West Ham having made the midfielder the third Premier League player in history signed for a fee in excess of £100m.

Following Rice’s club-record move to Arsenal, we’ve remembered the eight biggest deals in Premier League history.

Ranking the eight most expensive footballers in Premier League history.

8. Virgil van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool (£75m)

Virgil van Dijk became the most expensive defender in history when completing a £75m move to Liverpool during the 2018 January transfer window. The Reds had reluctantly withdrawn summer interest in signing the defender after Southampton complained of an alleged illegal approach, but returned six months later to complete a deal.

Jurgen Klopp reinvested the record-breaking windfall received from Philippe Coutinho’s sale to Barcelona to sign the Dutch defender, who made an instant impact to turn a previous weakness in central defence into a strength.

Van Dijk has been recognised as one of the elite centre-backs in the game across five-and-a-half seasons at Liverpool, a period which has seen the Reds win the Champions League and Premier League among a clean sweep of major honours.

The Netherlands captain was named as the PFA Player of the Year in 2018/19 – becoming just the third defender to win the award in the Premier League era – and finished as runner-up in the Ballon d’Or vote.

A towering presence, he has emphatically answered the initial doubts that greeted his price-tag.

7. Harry Maguire – Leicester to Manchester United (£80m)

Harry Maguire surpassed Van Dijk as the most expensive defender of all time after Manchester United agreed an £80m deal to sign the centre-back from Leicester in 2019.

Maguire had impressed after breaking into the England side and signed for a Red Devils team who had struggled defensively the previous season. A strong start saw Maguire named as club captain during his debut season, but the defender has since seen his fortunes decline.

Maguire has struggled for form across the last two seasons and was dropped from the side under Erik ten Hag in 2022/23, making just eight starts in the Premier League. A recent announcement that Maguire will not captain the club for the forthcoming campaign appears to indicate an exit is imminent, following a tough period in which the 30-year-old’s performances have been criticised.

6. Antony – Ajax to Manchester United (£85m)

Manchester United loosened the purse strings during Erik ten Hag’s first summer in charge, investing a club-record figure of around £220m on new additions.

The most expensive arrival was the capture of Antony from Ajax, with Ten Hag keen to reunite with the winger after a successful period working together in the Eredivise.

Antony showed flashes of his talent during a largely underwhelming debut campaign and United will demand improvement from the Brazilian ahead of his second season. The 23-year-old scored just four goals and laid on only two assists in 25 Premier League appearances.

5. Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United (£89m)

Manchester United became just the second Premier League team to break the world transfer record in 2016 when agreeing a deal to re-sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.

Pogba had departed on a free transfer just four years earlier after struggling for first-team football, but returned regarded as one of Europe’s best young players after four successful seasons in Serie A.

The Frenchman had won four consecutive league titles at Juventus, but failed to be the transformative signing most had hoped when returning to Old Trafford.

He won a League Cup and Europa League double during his first season with the Red Devils, but failed to add further silverware in the five years that followed. After six seasons of mixed performances, he returned to Italy to re-sign for Juventus on a free transfer.

4. Romelu Lukaku – Inter Milan to Chelsea (£97.5m)

Romelu Lukaku was another expensive returnee after re-signing for Chelsea in a club-record deal.

Lukaku had made just 10 goalless appearances for Chelsea during his first spell with the club as a teenager, but a prolific record after departing persuaded the west Londoners to re-sign the Belgian. He signed for Chelsea in a £97.5m deal after scoring 64 goals across the two previous seasons at Inter Milan, but failed to replicate that return in the Premier League.

Lukaku scored just eight league goals in a disappointing debut season, one which saw him face criticism for his performances and a controversial interview with Italian media.

He was allowed to re-join Inter Milan on loan for the 2022/23 season and now looks set for a permanent exit for a fraction of the fee that Chelsea invested.

3. Jack Grealish – Aston Villa to Manchester City (£100m)

Jack Grealish became the Premier League’s first £100m footballer after completing a move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in 2021.

City activated the midfielder’s record-breaking release clause after a brilliant season at Villa Park, one which saw Grealish lead the Premier League for fouls won and rank second for chances created and assists per 90 minutes.

The England international was handed the number ten shirt vacated following Sergio Aguero’s exit and, despite winning the Premier League title, initially struggled to convince during an up-and-down debut season.

Grealish improved to become a central figure in Pep Guardiola’s side last season, as the Citizens won a historic Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

2. Declan Rice – West Ham to Arsenal (£105m)

Declan Rice is now the most expensive British player of all time after completing a £105m move from West Ham to Arsenal.

The midfielder has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most influential players at West Ham and captained the club to a first major trophy in 43 years after Europa Conference League success in 2022/23.

Arsenal made Rice their top target and beat Manchester City to the signing of the 24-year-old, as the Gunners look to build on last season’s runners-up finish and challenge for a first title in two decades next season.

Rice led the Premier League for interceptions and ball recoveries last season and will add presence to Mikel Arteta’s engine room. The move will provide Rice with a chance to compete in the Champions League for the first time as Arsenal prepare to return to the competition next season.

1. Enzo Fernandez – Benfica to Chelsea (£106.8m)

Chelsea broke the British transfer record to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica last winter, as Todd Boehly’s bonkers start as the club’s owner continued with a record recruit.

Fernandez’s form persuaded Chelsea to part with the staggering sum of £106.8m just six months after his arrival into European football from River Plate, following a run of impressive performances in Portugal and a fine World Cup with Argentina.

The midfielder was named as the World Cup’s Best Young Player after forming part of Argentina’s victorious side in Qatar, before completing his record move to Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Fernandez made a strong start on an individual level despite Chelsea’s poor form last season and the 22-year-old looks set to be a central figure in the club’s rebuild under compatriot Mauricio Pochettino.

Read – Eight of the best left-wingers in Premier League history

Read Also – Ranking the five footballers with most assists this century

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