The most expensive signings in football history

As the passion and support for football has grown, alongside the talent that has come from the sport in recent years, so has the financial incentive for clubs and other teams to perform at the highest level.

One of the easiest ways for clubs to try and increase their success is to spend large amounts of money to ensure they have that talent playing on their team, rather than their opponent’s team.

Today, football is the most popular it has ever been. Clubs are willing to spend more money than ever before signing new players, sometimes well over the 100 million euro mark.

Here is a look at the ten most expensive signings in football history.

10. Romelu Lukaku – Inter Milan to Chelsea (2021): €115m

Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku signed with Chelsea for the first time in 2011 for €15 million. While not an insignificant transfer by any means, it pales in comparison to his  €115m deal with the club a decade later.

Despite the massive euro amount Lukaku signed for, he has not been performing especially well for Chelsea, with many fans questioning whether or not it was a smart transfer for the club to make.

9. Moisés Caicedo – Brighton & Hove Albion to Chelsea (2023): €116.2m

In 2023, Moisés Caicedo signed an eight-year contract with Chelsea for €116.2m. The 22-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder’s love for the sport started during his childhood when he would play with his nine other siblings.

With that said, he has had a slow start to the season in his 17 apps for Chelsea so far.

8. Declan Rice – West Ham United to Arsenal (2023): €116.6m

Before his transfer in 2023, West Ham United was the only Premier League team that English midfielder Declan Rice had played for. It was not until he accepted a €116.6m fee that he moved to another club: fellow Londoners Arsenal.

Rice has exceeded both club and international expectations since his transfer in the summer. Fans are hopeful he can continue to perform on the pitch for the rest of the season.

7. Jack Grealish – Aston Villa to Manchester City (2021): €117m

Regarded as one of the best wingers in the world, Jack Grealish has been an important part of Manchester City’s impressive performance over the past couple of years. He is known for his dribbling and playmaking abilities.

Grealish started his senior career playing for Aston Villa, whom he played for from 2012 until he transferred to Manchester City in 2021 for a total of €117m. Man City is hopeful the star midfielder will be able to help them reclaim their top spot in the current Premier League season.

6. Antoine Griezmann – Atlético Madrid to Barcelona (2019): €120m

Barcelona signed French forward Antoine Griezmann from Atlético Madrid in 2019 for €120m. Griezmann is best known for his role in France’s 2018 and 2022 World Cup performances, where they finished first and second respectively.

The World Cup winner brought versatility and goal-scoring prowess to the Catalan club. He continued to do well until being transferred back to Atlético Madrid in 2023 for €20 million.

5. Enzo Fernández – Benfica to Chelsea (2023): €121m

The third signing for Chelsea on this list, Enzo Fernández signed with the English club in January of 2023 for €121 million, after spending just one year with Benfica. This signing brought Chelsea’s total to more than 750 million euros spent on new talent from 2020.

4. João Félix – Benfica to Atlético Madrid (2019): €126m

In 2019, Atlético Madrid made a significant investment by acquiring Portuguese wonderkid João Félix from Benfica for €126 million. The young forward’s potential and skill justified the hefty price tag, making him one of the most expensive teenagers in the sport at the time.

3. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (2018): €145m

Barcelona’s pursuit of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho resulted in a jaw-dropping €145m transfer fee in 2018. The Brazilian midfielder’s move aimed to fill the void left by Neymar’s departure, but it also marked one of the most expensive deals in football history.

He would later transfer from Barcelona to Aston Villa in 2022 for €20m.

2. Kylian Mbappé – Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain (2018): €180m

The French sensation Kylian Mbappé secured his spot among one of the most expensive transfers of all time when he moved from AS Monaco in 2018. The €180m deal showcased how valued Mbappé was at the time, and foreshadowed what was to come in the future, as many fans consider him to be near a similar level to that of Lionel Messi.

Mbappé played alongside Griezmann on the French World Cup squad, making Argentina’s victory in the 2022 World Cup final one that they had to fight hard for.

1. Neymar – Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (2017): €198m

The most expensive football signing of all time belongs to Neymar, the football superstar from Brazil, who shocked the world when he signed for a staggering €198m.

The transfer reflected his extraordinary skill on the pitch, as well as the increasing financial stakes that clubs have in the sport.

The biggest transfers to take place since haven not come close to topping this jaw-dropping figure.

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