The market for FIFA transfers has gone crazy, with valuations and prices skyrocketing. The old adage of ‘money talks’ is more true than ever.
So as the agent of Paul Pogba shouts “show me the money!” to Manchester United, lets review the most expensive football transfers in history.
10. Kevin De Bruyne, Wolfsburg to Manchester City, August 2015 – $72.5m
De Bruyne never got a chance at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.
Moving to Wolfsburg in 2014 he assisted in 21 goals (a Bundesliga record at the time), leading him to win the Bundesliga player of the year award. He returned to England with Manchester City and was sensational until an injury kept him sidelined between January and April.
In October of the 2015 season De Bruyne had been nominated by FIFA as one of a 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or, showcasing how good his performances had been for Wolfsburg and Manchester City up to that point.
9. Edinson Cavani, Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain, July 2013 – $73m
The big Uruguayan has been overshadowed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a long time at PSG. But now that the big Swede has moved on to Manchester United, Cavani can finally lead the line.
Cavani made 104 appearances for Napoli, scoring 78 times before signing for Paris Saint-Germain. For PSG he has mostly played wide of an attacking three, yet even from this wide position he has scored 53 times in 93 appearances.
We predict the 2016-17 season will be Cavani’s best yet for PSG.
8. Kaka, AC Milan to Real Madrid, June 2009 – $74m
In his first spell at AC Milan Kaka was considered one of the best attacking midfielders in world football.
The exceptional Andrea Pirlo said, “I remember how badly we took it as a team when Kaká left Milan. For two or three years he was the best player in the world. There was a point when teams just had no idea how to stop him.”
At Real Madrid Kaka had some great performances, becoming the top Brazilian Champions League scorer with 28 goals. But he also suffered from a number of injuries, restricting his appearances to 120 over 4 seasons.
Kaka left Real Madrid for free and returned to AC Milan in September 2013.
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Inter Milan to Barcelona, July 2009 – $74.5m (includes trade of Samuel Eto’o)
Zlatan has played, and played well, for some of the world’s biggest clubs.
Before moving to Barcelona in 2009 Zlatan was scoring in Europe’s most tactically defensive league, the Italian Serie A. In 88 matches he had scored an impressive 57 goals, and such performances caught the eye of Barcelona.
Zlatan’s move to Barcelona didn’t work out even though he scored 16 goals in 29 games during his first season. In his second season Barcelona loaned him out to AC Milan, with Zlatan later claiming to have fallen out with Barcelona’s coach, Pep Guardiola.
6. Angel di Maria, Real Madrid to Manchester United, August 2014 – $79m
Angel di Maria wanted to move to Paris Saint-Germain when Real Madrid decided they no longer needed their Argentinian winger.
PSG balked at Real Madrid’s price tag, but Manchester United didn’t. Angel di Maria started great but quickly diminished under the strain of North English life. In the space of a few months his home was burgled and his family declared a desperation to leave — both of which had a massive impact on the players happiness and performance.
At the end of his one season in England, di Maria left to his preferred choice Paris for $58m, a decrease of $21m on what Manchester United previously paid.
5. James Rodriguez, Monaco to Real Madrid, July 2014 – $83m
James was a young, gifted, creative player for Monaco at a time when Real Madrid was hungry for the next big talent. Sadly, his Real Madrid career has yet to take off.
In two seasons he has played 57 times. In his first season, he performed well with 14 goals and 15 assists in 37 games. Yet at Real Madrid you only get a limited amount of time to prove yourself and those stats didn’t improve during his second season.
Since then there has been transfer talk of James leaving Real Madrid, but can they find a buyer at a price comparative to what they paid?
4. Luis Suarez, Liverpool to Barcelona, July 2014 – $98.5m
Luis Suarez almost won Liverpool the Premier League in his final season at the club. His performances and many goals gave Liverpool their first taste of Premier League hope in decades.
Having scored 69 goals in 110 matches, Suarez was snapped up by Barcelona. In 62 appearances for the club he has scored a whopping 56 times in an attacking trio with Neymar and Lionel Messi, which is now regarded as the best in world football, even better than Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema combination.
3. Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli to Juventus, July 2016 – $99m
Goalscorers are often the most in-demand and expensive players, and Higuain has proven himself as one of the best in world football.
Higuain played for Real Madrid, scoring 107 times in 190 games before moving to Serie A Napoli, where he scored 71 times in 101 games and most recently being crowned as the Italian league’s top scorer.
Higuain may not be a game changer like Ronaldo or Bale, but he’s definitely someone who can put away a chance-on-goal, exactly what Juventus have lacked in recent Champions League knockout matches.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid, September 2013 – $105.5m
From haphazard teenager to superstar brand CR7, Ronaldo’s status grew exponentially at Manchester United where he became one of the world’s most revered talents.
But it wasn’t until he moved to Real Madrid that his superhuman prowess could really be seen. Ronaldo has scored 260 goals in 236 appearances for Real Madrid and is the fastest player to score 200 goals in Spain’s La Liga.
Ronaldo is one player who has proven value for his exceptionally large transfer fee.
1. Gareth Bale, Tottenham to Real Madrid, July 2009 – $113m
Believe it or not, playing Gareth Bale was once considered bad luck at Tottenham Hotspur. In his first 24 games, Tottenham failed to win once. From such a jinxed beginning it would have been a wild gamble to predict just how far Gareth Bale would go.
From a jinx to the world’s most expensive footballer, no one knows if Bale will prove to be worth the money. But it’s clear the player has talent that can turn a football game on it’s head.
Whether Gareth Bale will remain the world’s most expensive transfer by the start of the 2016 season is another question, especially with the alleged Paul Pogba to Manchester United transfer saga. This could apparently cost a staggering $132m before agent fees, signing bonus and salary are tallied. Expect the saga to come to a close by September 1st when the transfer window slams shut on top European leagues.