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Top 10 Most Expensive Football Transfers

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Compared to the lion that was the summer of 2009, when we saw Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to pastures anew for a combined fee of more than £200m, it would seem appropriate to consider the 2010 summer transfer season, and for that matter, most others, a veritable lamb, unless you’re Manchester City.

However, even with the financial constraints, self-imposed or otherwise, that kept many of the usual suspects from spending above and beyond, summer 2010 was far from bereft of big-name and big-money moves and high drama.

In the end though, there wasn’t much of a shakeup in the list of the top 10 most expensive transfers ever. The lone name that was added to the list was David Villa, who moved from Valencia to Barcelona for £34.2m, which gives Barca their second entrant in the rankings. One can only hope that Villa doesn’t meet the same fate as their other entrant, but only time will tell.

Below is the updated list.

Top 10 Overall Transfers

  • 1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United to Real Madrid – £80m in 2009 (€94m)
  • 2. Zinedine Zidane: Juventus to Real Madrid – £64m in 2001 (€75m)
  • 3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter Milan to Barcelona – £59m in 2009 (€69m)
  • 4. Kaka: AC Milan to Real Madrid – £58m in 2009 (€68m)
  • 5. Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid – £53m in 2000 (€61.5m)
  • 6. Hulk: FC porto to Zenit St. Petersburg – £52m in 2012 (€60m)
  • 7. Radamel Falcao: Atletico Madrid to AS Monaco – £51m in 2013 (€60m) NEW!
  • 8. Fernando Torres: Liverpool to Chelsea – £50m in 2011 (€58m)
  • 8. Neymar: Santos to Barcelona – £48.6m in 2013 (€57m) NEW!
  • 10. Hernan Crespo: Parma to Lazio – £43m in 2000 (€51.2m)

Bumped from the top 10:Radamel Falcao: FC Porto to Atletico Madrid – £40.7m in 2011 (€47m), James Rodriguez: FC Porto to AS Monaco – £38.5m in 2013 (€45m), Gaizka Mendieta: Valencia to Lazio – £38.3m in 2001 (€45m), Christian Vieri: Lazio to Inter Milan – £38m in 1999 (€45m), Gianluigi Buffon: Parma to Juventus – £38m in 2001 (€45m), Ronaldo: Inter Milan to Real Madrid – £38m in 2002 (€45m), Sergio Aguero: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City – £38m in 2011 (€45m).

Top 10 Premier League Transfers

  • 1. Fernando Torres: Liverpool to Chelsea – £50m (2011)
  • t2. Sergio Aguero: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City – £38m (2011)
  • t2. Andy Carroll: Newcastle United to Liverpool – £35m (2011)
  • 4. Robinho: Real Madrid to Manchester City – £32.5m (2008)
  • 5. Andriy Shevchenko: AC Milan to Chelsea – £30.8m (2006)
  • 6. Dimitar Berbatov: Tottenham to Manchester United – £30.75m (2008)
  • 7. Rio Ferdinand: Leeds to Manchester United – £29.1m (2002)
  • 8. Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio to Manchester United – £28.1m (2001)
  • 9. Edin Dzeko: Wolfsburg to Manchester City – £27m (2011)
  • 10. Wayne Rooney: Everton to Manchester United – £25.6m (2004)

Missed the Cut: Samir Nasri: Arsenal to Manchester City – £25m (2011), Juan Mata: Valencia to Chelsea – £23.5m (2011)

Bumped from the top 10:10. Didier Drogba: Marseille to Chelsea – £24m (2004), Michael Essien: Lyon to Chelsea – £24.43m (2005), James Milner: Aston Villa to Manchester City – £24m (2010), David Silva: Valencia to Manchester City – £24m (2010), Yaya Toure: Barcelona to Manchester City – £24m (2010), Darren Bent: Sunderland to Aston Villa – £24m (2011)

This page was last updated on 6 September 2011.

Also see: Football transfer records and our football transfer lists.

Comments (51)

  1. Are these prices inflation-adjusted? That is, are they reported in real-values (instead of nominal values)? If they are nominal (which I doubt they are), then they doesn’t give much impression regarding the most expensive transfer(s).

  2. I think fees should go even higher so that clubs become real careful about whom they sign. It is very embarrasing for a club to make an expensive mistake (Veron, Sheva). It brings them back to earth, kinda puts things into perspective, and kinda helps balancing out the wealth distribution.

    We all focus on the exhorbitant amount that a club PAID for a player, but what about the ‘lucky’ club on the receiving end? The one that becomes rich overnight, just by selling some above-average player with a superstar price-tag. Isn’t that nice?

  3. Wow, Carvalho cost more than Ruud. No doubt he’s a great defender, but I can’t believe Porto (it was them yeah?) milked Jose that much.

  4. just cuz some big stars flop terribly doesnt mean they are duds………..do u really think sheva was an above average player with a superstar pricetag? do u really think he churned out flukes for milan? and very consistently at tht? its just a matter of adjustin to a new environment which unfortunately some dont do well as others…..

  5. @srikanth
    You’re missing my point completely, and NO, I don’t think Sheva is an above-average player, neither was Veron. That’s not the point. They were however undoubtedly ‘expensive mistakes’. (Btw, because of his age, Sheva does not really have the luxury of taking his time to adjust…that’s mainly what makes it a very costly ‘mistake’)

    Above-average – the likes of Bent, Carrick, Carvalho, SWP, etc.

    Other reason I want prices to increase is because I want to setup trials for my son at United in a couple of years time :-)

  6. Just for the record…
    Roman took a gamble on Sheva. If I had Roman’s money, I would have done the exact same thing. If it worked, it would have been mind-blowing!

  7. u forgot beckham’s move to real madrid

  8. Wheres Anelka to Real Madrid?

  9. Good point Haider!

    Based on what City’s new owners are saying watch the top 10 translate into a whole new order in the next couple of years!

  10. Hilarious…us Chelsea boys get shite all the time about hwo much we spend, yet United is on the list as often as we are…

    It doesn’t matter whom you are; spending money wins titles!

  11. Where is José Enrique in that list?

  12. Chelsea get all the bashing, but Utd seem to spend as heavily as chelsea do . Just last year, they spend around 60 MM on Nani , Anderson & Owen Hargareves. Carrick, Evra , Vidic a year back.

    Tevez signing will cost another 30 MM this year

  13. “Chelsea get all the bashing, but Utd seem to spend as heavily as chelsea do”

    The only way to stay on the pace is to spend and keep your team competitive. I get tired going over this but let’s do it 1 more time.

    Since the PL began Utd have been the definitive case study in excellence in running a successful footbal club/ sports business. They have for some years outspent their main rivals to stay at the top, grow their brand and continue winning trophies. The model for success is simple really.

    When the PL began Utd were on a perfectly even playing field (so to speak)with their rivals but through excellence they have EARNED the ability to spend and stay at the top.

    Chelsea on the other hand achieved very little before RA arrived and started to throw money around like an Arab in a brothel.

    There’s a subtle difference in the two situations but, it seems, too subtle for the likes of Brian W and Henry to understand.

  14. There’s no difference BD,e xcept for this notion in the head of United supporters that “it’s wrong to spend gobs of money…unless it’s us doing the spending!”

    I have no complaints that the United model is the case study in achieving domestic and Euorpean success in football. But throwing money around is throwing money around, and Chelsea have achieved success following the same model.

    “Earned” the right to stay at the top? United haven’t earned anything. They have the respect for being a top club, successful in their endeavors…and the hatred of non-Reds because of hypocritical, self-glorifying statements such as that. That argument is pathetic as Scousers clinging to their history as an excuse for not doing anything relevant in the last decade.

  15. Correction: United HAVE earned their right to stay at the top – but that does not preclude anyone else from doing the same, nor does it give United the inalienable right to cast down judgment on other clubs that also spend as much as they do.

  16. Brian W, the problem is most people think that there IS a difference.
    As for these comments:

    “this notion in the head of United supporters that “it’s wrong to spend gobs of money…unless it’s us doing the spending!””
    and
    “nor does it give United the inalienable right to cast down judgment on other clubs that also spend as much as they do.”

    Absolute nonsense! Your inventing things to try and suport your own position. Utd fans do no such thing. What they DO do, along with fans of other teams, is slag off Chelsea for buying the League, with no pedigree or hard work backing it up.

    It comes down to respect, something which is earned. While Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal fans may have bitter rivalries, they nevertheless respect each other as clubs.
    Nobody respects Chelsea and that’s what rankles with you and leads you to make irrational statements as you have.

    I’m on record as saying that in a free market economy anyone is entitled to buy a club and pour money into it and buy success as Chelsea have and I have no issue with that, being a good capitalist.
    Just don’t turn around afterwards and try to pretend that success wasn’t bought and that running a club at massive losses when your rivals are constrained by having to balance the books, isn’t a huge advantage and one that, frankly, diminishes any achievements.

    By the way, if you wish to produce supporting evidence for your statements I’m all ears!

  17. My evidence is two Premier League titles, a UEFA finalist, and the highest current coefficient in the competition, as well as an FA Cup victory over yours truly.

    Don’ try to be a hero and say that there’s a difference in spending money to win. You wanted eveidence of what I said? It’s your own statements and attitude – that United and no one else has somehow earned the right to do that.

    To win, you have to spend heavily. It doesn’t matter how you do it, and the last 4 years of champions have proved that. We spent and won twice. You spent and won twice.

    I don’t are if anyone respects us. Frankly, as a Red, you have no idea howthe lot of us feel. The fact that all the other teams in the country besides three would kill to be us is statement enough that we are respected, and I would suspect that even a fair share of Liverpool and Arsenal supporters would die to be in the position we are in.

    I won’t argue that we have a financial advantage over everyone, except, maybe, Manchester City. But no one is stopping a more wealthy businessman or woman, in your self-titled Free market economy, from coming in to OT and doing the same thing Roman has. If that happened, I guarantee the hatred towards Chelsea finances would imemdiately cease to exist.

  18. to be fair – Torres cost 20m plus Luis Garcia, so it’s more like 26m…

  19. Brian W, the evidence I was asking for was in relation to Utd fans complaining about any other teams spending money. They don’t and there is none, other than the Chelsea situation, along with everyone else.

  20. zidane rules

  21. i think they should make a whole new team of manchester city and united sure manchester have robinho but united has one downfall they need lampard and figo on there team as well as other players because there defence is weak. i mean i’m playing fifa 08 at the moment and i have signed eto’o, henry,boswinga,david james,del peiro,santa cruz, martins,owen and some other great players what i’m trying to say that alex ferguso needs to re-think is transfer and get some decent players for once.

  22. Could Subpremier be the new Subprime?
    The total cost of the 10 most expensive transfers in the English Premier league was around £250m. While these 10 superstars and their less expensive team mates may be drawing the crowds, by the time their clubs have paid massive wage bills, weekly running costs and the service costs of their burgeoning debt mountain, few if any of the clubs are profitable. Questions are beginning to be asked about their financial viability and the depth of their owner’s pockets. It is interesting to note that the directional flow of players is mainly one way into the UK while the cash to pay for them is nearly all flowing in the other direction. If problems arise that require clubs and their owners to realise their “assets”, this may produce shortfalls that see subprime being replaced by subpremier!

  23. simon, you obviously do not know what players to buy on fifa 08 because all of them are old and a rip off. proper players buy up and coming talents which are cheap yet grow up to be over the overall of most of that list. And another thing is that alex ferguson dos not buy expensive rip offs and Knows more about football than you’ll ever do.

  24. when clubs pay that amount of money on a player they almost never get the money back because the only proper player who has repayed the money with being the key man in winning trophies has probably been zidane

  25. David; im sure beckham has justified his large transferee fees, he won Madrid the title in his last season, they were sixth before he got recalled, was influential to the team and the main reason Fabio got sacked is because he let becks go. Not to mention the millions of merchandise he sells across the globe!! Spending £20mill on becks is justified by shirt sales and sponsorship alone.
    at the end of the day, its been shown with the likes of madrid, chelsea, juve, and utd in recent season…if u spend u win, u win u get money, u spend again, u win again.

  26. The Berbatov transfer was £30.75 million for both him and Frazier Campbell on a season-long loan. Hull bid £7 million for Campbell in September 2008.

  27. Makes me Laaaugh!!! Look at the prem list, little old Torres hitting humbelly at 20mil and definately the best signing!

  28. It really is funny how Robbie Keane cost more than Fernando Torres

  29. bollocks. Torres was for 20m + Luis Garcia, valued at 7m by Liv before the transfer. Keane was for 19-20m plus the donation to charity, definitely below 27m.

  30. zidane was the only player that was worth his price, even payin 100million at that time would of still made it a great deal.
    all the others r over the top by 8-10mil except torres.

    for the future transfers, i belive only kaka will break zidanes deal, and will b worth every penny. c ronaldo to will break the top price but he is not the class of zidane or even kaka, thus will turn out to be a over paid price.

  31. i think that zidane waspropably the only one to deserve a price like that.are there insurances being taken out in the case of say a veron or bellamy.

    do u remember when chris sutton went for 5 million pounds as the highgest.would we ever see the first 100 million player and what is the cut.

  32. wht is for sure is that if they where a 100mil deal the player will get min 10% on the fee, so 10 mil just for the player is somein.
    papers where sayin month a go for kaka to chelsea for 100mil euro, thats 80mil pounds, but i dont no if he would go to chelsea.
    insurance is on injurys i thk only.

  33. IT’S ALL FALSE ECONOMY ANYHOW!!
    wHILST MANURE FANS MAY BRAG AND BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE THE DIVINE RIGHT TO SPEND MILLIONS EVERY YEAR THEY ARE ACTUALLY MILLIONS OF POUNDS IN DEBT ( AS ARE LIVERPOOL ). I THINK THINGS WOULD BE FAR MORE INTERESTING IF THE PREMIERSHIP RAN THINGS ALONG THE LINES OF THE NFL WITH A SIMILAR DRAFT PICK SYSTEM, IT WOULD BE FAR FAIRER AND WOULD STOP THE INCESSANT BRAGGING OF MANCS AND SCOUSERS. TRANSFERS ARE TRANSFERS NOT SOME ‘ HOW BIG IS YOURS PURILE SCHOOLBOY COMPETITION’. MANURE, LIVERPOOL, CHELSKI AND ARSENAL ALL RUN AT STRATOSPHERIC LOSSES BUT SOMEHOW SEEM ALLOWED TO CONTINUE BUYING PLAYERS FOR THE NATIONAL DEBT OF LIBERIA…

  34. we want only the truth

  35. formal pollo player,amoako bismark has sighed for a free transfer.

  36. besides KAKA, lads watch out for players like messi, villa and even samuel eto they can break records too with an absolute surity

  37. hey u forgot ronaldinho to milan

  38. These are not inflation adjusted. For example, Zidane was £70 million after “increase” due to inflation. also, this list needs to be updated. 2nd now should be kaka.

  39. I think that Zidane was the most expensive player in the world,but KAKA has an offer from Man City of 123 or 125M
    I dont remember well and he declined,and I’m verry verry surprized that he accept a offer from RMad,even for less money than he cold have at ManCity :-O;what is the think?
    /:)
    I belive that this site needs to be updated:)

  40. zidane deserves the most expensive player transfer

  41. u forgot ronaldinho

  42. Why do all these teams spend like 80mil on player and some people dont even have enough money to survive!!!! there should be all limit on these players!!!1

    I am tweleve and i have more sense than you

  43. errrm how about ibramivich … diddnt he cost like 30 mill + etoo or sopmething he should be on here … and yeah i think there should be spending limits … it should be that 20 mill would be the most shocking transfer ever … not 80 mill thats way to far and since there spendin that much would they really notice if 1 mill went to me?

  44. fat ronaldo was 31 million?

  45. Unarguably!Zidane is the Best of them all n the best Big Signing by a club followed by Maradona 2 Napoli,Figo 2 Barca n Rel Madrid,Ronaldo R9 2 PSV,Barca n Inter.

  46. all of you are pricks

  47. Everybody says Chelsea only win things because we spend all that money, but it’s alright for Man utd. Also shit teams like spurs and man city spend a lot more than us and don’t win fuck all.
    The thing is we have talent from our youth, who do tottenham really have, they steal all there youth players from leeds, (jonathan woodgate, aaron lennon, Danny rose, paul robinson). Chelsea have made players like john terry, frank lampard, ashley cole, joe cole, petr cech as good as they are today, they were all nowhere near as good at there former clubs. I’m really looking forward to todays match because when man city beat man utd and chelsea beat shitty spurs, the league is once again where it belongs. As you can probably tell I fucking hate tottenham, i mean all that money spent, yet they can’t beat debt-ridden pompy – thats poor.
    Also prick chelsea wannabe fans need to stop showing up for matches because they’re ruining the reputation of our hardcore atmosphere, which just isnb’t at stamford bridge anymore. Also twats say chelsea are full of africanplayers yet teams like arsenal have 1 english player, not good enough for the england teasm and chelsea have like half of the starting England team. FUCK wayne bridge and give john terry the captaincy, if you want us to stand a chance of winning the world cup. Rio is shitt :)

  48. wtf!!!! rooney??

  49. where is Zlatan who cost 39 million + Eto’o? he cost around 70 million. he should be on the list