10 most expensive transfers in football history, ranked: from Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus deal and Neymar and Kylian Mbappé’s PSG records, to Paul Pogba’s Man United signing and Romelu Lukaku’s fees
Meanwhile in the world of domestic football, transfers are a common occurrence as clubs try to ensure they have the right players to win silverware, with the fees varying hugely depending on the player’s skills.
Here are the 10 most expensive and jaw-dropping transfers in football history.
10. Paul Pogba – US$110 million
The 29-year-old French footballer left Manchester United in 2012 due to a lack of playing time, and joined Juventus on a free transfer, per Rarest.org.
After leading France to victory in the 2013 Fifa U-20 World Cup and being voted the best player in the tournament, Manchester United confirmed its signing of the star in 2016 for a then-record-breaking transfer of US$110 million (£93 million), reported The Guardian. Until 2021, this remained the highest transfer fee paid by an English team, as per Rarest. org.
Pogba himself boasts a gigantic net worth of US$125 million, states Celebrity Net Worth thanks to his salary and his cut of his transfer deals.
He splashes his cash on lavish holidays in Bora Bora, as seen on his Instagram, and styles himself in high-fashion brands like Gucci T-shirts and custom-made hats, as per Soccergator.
9. Romelu Lukaku – US$116 million
In June, according to Eurosport, Lukaku rejoined Inter Milan on loan for US$8.3 million less than a year after signing with Chelsea for US$116 million.
Lukaku overtook Neymar’s world record for the highest combined transfer fee when he reached US$350 million as of February, per Football Transfers. The 29-year-old Belgian footballer has been transferred between Anderlecht, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan and Manchester United.
These transfers have helped his net worth grow to US$60 million in 2022, per Sportskeeda.
Lukaku splurges his cash on an expensive garage, which includes collections of Rolls-Royce models and various Mercedes, states Football Transfers. The article also claims that the footballer bought neighbouring flats in Milan to keep his mum and his son close while he concentrates on his games.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo – US$117 million
According to Rarest.org, this sum was the largest ever paid to a player above the age of 30 by an Italian team. After joining Juventus, Ronaldo went on to win the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana in his first full season in Turin, per FotMob.
The 37-year-old is the third wealthiest football player in the world with a net worth of around US$500 million, as per Celebrity Net Worth. He reportedly acquired this fortune through his athletic career, modelling gigs and brand endorsements.
While he uses his wealth to buy expensive timepieces like his US$1.5 million diamond-encrusted Franck Muller watch, per British media, he is also a philanthropist and is an ambassador for major charities like Unicef and World Vision. The generous athlete donated US$5 million to help Nepal after its devastating 2015 earthquake, as per Insider.
7. Jack Grealish – US$120 million
The British footballer broke Pogba’s previous record for the highest transfer fee paid by an English club when Manchester City paid US$120 million for him in 2021, per Sky Sports. After his move from Aston Villa, the 27-year-old was able to enjoy Man City’s fourth Premier League title win in May 2022.
As one of the highest earners in the Man City squad, Grealish has seen his wealth grow, with fashion endorsements, including one with Gucci, adding to his net worth of US$12 million, reports First Sportz.
He’s flaunted his wealth with his stylish Range Rover purchase and made headlines for spending nearly US$100,000 on a VIP package in Las Vegas, according to Sportsbrief.
6. Antoine Griezmann – US$125 million
The versatile French football player joins the top 10 list for his move from Atletico Madrid to Barca in 2019. ESPN reported that the transfer cost US$125 million, but Atlético claimed that Barcelona’s payment was US$83 million short of the agreed price.
After scoring multiple goals and winning titles with Barcelona, Griezmann transferred back to Atlético in 2021, per The Guardian.
Being one of the game’s most recognised players, the 31-year-old’s fortune is estimated to be about US$60 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. He has a US$6 million villa in Madrid and drives luxurious cars including a McLaren 675LT, Rolls-Royce Wraith, Ferrari F12 and Maserati Granturismo, reports The Sports Lite. Griezmann also donates to charity.
5. João Félix – US$130 million
The 23-year-old Portuguese footballer plays as a forward for La Liga club Atletico Madrid and the Portugal national team. He won the Golden Boy (best player in Europe under 21) and the Primeira Liga’s Best Young Player of the Year awards in 2019.
Atletico Madrid splashed out US$130 million to bring in Félix from Benfica in 2019, per Euro Sports. This was the second-highest price ever spent on a teenage footballer, per Rarest.org.
Félix already has an impressive net worth of US$25 million, per Celebrity Net Worth, which he likes to spend on high-end cars like the BMW X3M, as seen on his Instagram.
4. Ousmane Dembélé – US$150 million
Ousmane Dembélé kicked off his professional career in 2015 and made his international debut for the French senior team only a year later while playing for Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona then paid around US$150 million to bring him to Spain, as per ESPN. It was said that the base fee was US$125 million with add-ons totalling another US$25 million or more.
Since joining his new Spanish team, the 25-year-old has scored 32 goals and won two La Liga championships.
His current bank balance sits at about US$35 million, per Celebrity Net Worth, and he currently owns a mansion in Barcelona and drives multiple Mercedes, according to FirstSportz.
3. Philippe Coutinho – US$170 million
Coutinho displayed his extraordinary potential when he played for Brazil in the Copa America in 2015 and Copa America Centenario in 2016. He made his World Cup debut in the 2018 Fifa World Cup where he scored two goals and earned a spot on the Fifa World Cup Dream Team, per Rarest.org.
In 2018, Coutinho transferred from Liverpool to Barcelona in a gigantic US$170 million deal, per The Guardian. The 30-year-old, now playing back in England for Aston Villa, has a net worth of US$60 million, as per Celebrity Net Worth.
2. Kylian Mbappé – US$186 million
Kylian Mbappé made headlines in 2017 by becoming the most expensive teenager in football, per Planet Football, when he switched from Monaco to French side Paris St Germain for a jaw-dropping US$186 million, per Rarest.org. This huge amount has nevertheless proven to be good business as he has netted goals at a rate not far short of a goal-a-game ever since. This includes scoring four at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, the first of which also made him the youngest French goalscorer in World Cup history, per ESPN.
Thanks to his career, the 23-year-old enjoys a net worth of US$150 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. He is said to own high-end rides like the Ferrari 488 Pista, Mercedes-Benz V Class and multiple Volkswagens. Despite these lavish purchases, he also said that he would give his World Cup 2018 bonuses to the Premiers de Cordees charity, which aims to organise sports for children with disabilities, states Goal.
1. Neymar – US$230 million
The Brazilian native has previously held records for expensive transfers, but his most lucrative one yet was in 2017 when he moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a whopping US$230 million, states Rarest.org.
The 30-year-old also holds multiple football records including a Guinness World Record for the fastest goal in Olympic history, per BBC. He also became the first Brazilian athlete to appear on Time magazine’s cover in February 2013.
- Amid the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, we look at the priciest player transfers ever, from Jack Grealish’s Man City deal to Golden Boy João Félix with Atletico Madrid
- Antoine Griezmann transferred to Barcelona in 2019 and splashes on McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Maseratis while Ousmane Dembélé was also signed by the team