High football transfer fees are increasingly becoming the order of the day due to the high sums clubs spend to sign their desired players.
In the summer of 2017, Paris Saint-Germain broke the transfer record following the completion of Brazilian forward Neymar from Barcelona at €222m.
But Neymar’s transfer fee is not the only record in world football. Some other most expensive football transfers recorded are the Kylian Mbappé PSG switch, and the outrageous Phillipe Coutinho Barcelona move worth £105m.
Interestingly, the current biggest football transfers happened between 2016, 2017, and 2018. Who is the most expensive player in the transfer market?
Most expensive transfers of all time ranked
1. Neymar Jr – €222.00m (From Barcelona to PSG, in 2017)
Neymar Jr joined Paris Saint-Germain from FC Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for €222.00m. This makes Neymar the most expensive football player of all time.
Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to PSG came on a somewhat surprising note. The Brazilian has played for the Catalan club, has a promising future and has already formed a trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, often called the ‘MSN’.
At the time of completion, the complete contractual agreement between Paris Saint-Germain and Neymar had amounted to nearly half a billion euros – and this remains the biggest football transfer of all time without a doubt.
For football fans, it was a hardly believable fee, a shock and a competitive and intelligent move made by PSG that have constantly targeted the Champions League.
Backed by Qatar Investment Authority, PSG have been a leading club in the transfer market and has been involved in some of the biggest fees paid to players.
2. Kylian Mbappé – €145.00m (From Monaco to PSG, in 2018)
Paris Saint-Germain wouldn’t stop with the record-breaking transfer fee involving Neymar. The Paris based club pulled off yet another record fee after it was announced the signing of Kylian Mbappé on an initial loan that resulted to permanent deal valued at €145.00m.
At age 21, Kylian Mbappé became the most expensive french footballer in history following his move from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain for €145.00m in 2018.
PSG’s decision to splash such a massive amount on Kylian was justified. But the French club had spent 367m euros to bring two world-class players to the Parc des Princes within a year.
Today, Kylian Mbappé is one of the best forwards in world football, having a goal ratio of 1.0 per game and consistently hitting double figures.
3. Ousmane Dembélé – €140.00m (From Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, in 2017)
Ousmane Dembélé’s world-class performance at Borussia Dortmund sparked international recognition, and top clubs like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and some Premier League giants were said to be interested.
FC Barcelona paid €140.00m to Borussia Dortmund for Ousmane Dembélé with add-ons that saw the fee rise to €147m.
Dembélé was one of the fast-rising players in the Rennes first team and was compared to Cristiano Ronaldo by the club’s sporting director Mikaël Silvestre
Indeed, Ousmane Dembélé had an impressive start to his career in the German Bundesliga with Dortmund. He was named in the 2017 Bundesliga Team of the Season and awarded the league’s Rookie of the Season award.
4. Phillipe Coutinho – €135.00m (From Liverpool FC to Barcelona, in 2018)
Liverpool’s ‘Next Generation’ forward, Phillipe Coutinho, chose FC Barcelona after a breakthrough in the Premier League that saw him clinch the Liverpool Players’ Player of the Season Award twice.
After two years at Anfield, Coutinho decided it was the best decision to move to Camp Nou, and it was completed for €135.00m with add-ons that would see it rise by a further 20 per cent.
5. João Félix – €127.20m (From SL Benfica to Atletico Madrid, in 2019)
Following a sensational start to his career in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, João Félix made a big-money move from SL Benfica to Atlético Madrid for €127.20m. The young Portuguese footballer had numerous offers but chose the Spanish league as his priority.
Félix, in the Portuguese top-flight, surprisingly played the lead role in goal-scoring that helped Benfica win their 37th league title in his first and only season with them. He was awarded Primeira Liga’s Best Young Player of the Year and the Golden Boy award.
At age 19, João Félix became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the UEFA Europa League. Félix is now Portuguese most expensive footballer ever, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s initial transfer record to Juventus.
6. Antoine Griezmann – €120.00m (From Atlético Madrid to Barcelona, in 2019)
Antoine Griezmann’s ever-consistent performance was monitored by Barcelona, who had the slightest of fingers to pen down the transfer of the dazzling French forward.
Barcelona splashed €120.00m on Antoine Griezmann to make the club’s second most expensive signing after Ousmane Dembélé.
Griezmann, under Diego Simeone, was a joy to watch and a prolific goal scorer who had Atlético Madrid’s goal-scoring duties on his shoulders. He won the Europa League and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best Player.
Griezmann is a versatile player who can play in any advanced role, including a defensive position at times.
7. Jack Grealish – €117.50m (From Aston Villa to Man City, in 2021)
In 2021, Manchester City paid €117.50m to Aston Villa for Jack Grealish, making him the most expensive British footballer in history. The Englishman had justified every reason for Pep Guardiola’s interest in securing his services.
Manchester City activated Jack Grealish’s release clause, with the player also acknowledging his boyhood dream to play for the club.
Jack Grealish caught the eye of Man City after he had established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League in the 2019-20 campaign, scoring six goals and providing ten assists. He arrived at the club with many expectations.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo – €117.00m (From Real Madrid to Juventus, in 2018)
Scoring a superb bicycle kick that helped Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League title was an indicator Juventus would be seeking the Portuguese to end their long years of waiting for European glory.
Ahead of the 2018/19 season, Juventus announced the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid for a record €117.00m fee that makes him the club’s most expensive signing in history.
With lots of expectations and Ronaldo, who is often referred to as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Juventus were only preparing for a new phase in their history.
Ronaldo’s decision to leave Real Madrid for Juventus came as a surprise to many football fans. But the Portuguese had his own goals set. And the announcement of a deal worth €117.00m was justifiable for player of his calibre.
9. Eden Hazard – €115.00m (From Chelsea to Real Madrid, in 2019)
Eden Hazard chose it was time to pursue the rest of his career with the Los Blancos after hitting the pinnacle of his career. The Belgian had won major trophies with Chelsea in England, including the Premier League, Europa League and the FA Cup.
Real Madrid paid €115.00m for Eden Hazard from Chelsea. His presentation to the fans club turned out to be completely different from what was expected, where the calls for Kylian Mbappé instead took centre stage.
During Eden Hazard’s peak years in the Premier League with Chelsea, he was widely considered one of the best players in the world due to his unique abilities.
10. Romelu Lukaku – €113.00m (From Inter Milan to Chelsea, in 2021)
Romelu Lukaku was having the form of his life in the Italian Serie A and Europe at Inter Milan under the guidance of Antonio Conte. The Belgian, however, chose it was time to return to the English football scene after two stints.
Ahead of the 2021/22 season, Chelsea, a new-look team led by Thomas Tuchel, spent €113.00m to solve the club’s goal-scoring difficulties.
Lukaku already had experience of the Premier League, where he’d previously played for Everton and Manchester United. And his move was seen as a step in the right direction for the Blues, who had a misfiring forward line.
Lukaku’s second return to Chelsea becomes his second record transfer fee. In 2017, he transferred from Everton to Manchester United for £75m.
Football transfers are becoming too expensive, especially for players within the top five European leagues. However, some of these players are worth the money and value.
What seems troubling is the actual competition and the gap huge transfer fees would cause between smaller and bigger clubs.
But football clubs would be willing to spend to get the best players out of the market due to the increase in competition.
Neymar Jr, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, João Félix and Eden Hazard are the most expensive players in the market