100 Biggest Transfer Fees of All Time Adjusted for InflationMarch 3, 2015
100 Biggest Transfer Fees of All Time Adjusted for Inflation
Have you ever wondered how much Luis Figo's move to Real Madrid or Hernan Crespo's transfer to Lazio would cost in modern-day cash? Would Rui Costa's big-money switch to Milan land him in the top 10 most expensive transfers of all time?
Here, Bleacher Report adjusts the top 100 most expensive transfers in the history of football for inflation and re-ranks them. The figures are all correct and complete up to the year ending 2014; acquisitions in the summer of 2014 and during the 2015 January transfer window have not been adjusted.
The fees are listed in Euros to avoid exchange rate issues where possible, and were calculated using a verified inflation (CPI) calculator.
Where does your favourite player rank? Who rivals the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the very top? And which club has spent the most? Read on and enjoy!
A Note on Neymar
Neymar is not included in the top 100 due to the fact that his genuine, real transfer fee is still shrouded in mystery. Barcelona claim he cost €57 million, but Marca suggested that €40 million of that was paid to Neymar's father and not former club Santos.
If he cost just €17 million (from Santos to Barca), he doesn't feature on this list. If he comes under the microscope for the full €57 million, however, then that figure rises to €57.5 million due to inflation. It would place him joint-15th in the ranking.
100. Samir Nasri, Arsenal to Manchester City
2011 fee: €28.4m | Adjusted fee: €29.8m
99. Antoine Griezmann, Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid
2014 fee: €30m
98. Medhi Benatia, Roma to Bayern Munich
2014 fee: €30m
97. Roberto Soldado, Valencia to Tottenham Hotspur
2013 fee: €30m | Adjusted fee: €30.5m
96. Erik Lamela, Roma to Tottenham Hotspur
2013 fee: €30.2m | Adjusted fee: €30.7m
95. Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina to Chelsea
2015 fee: €30.9m
94. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain
2012 fee: €30m | Adjusted fee: €30.9m
93. Adam Lallana, Southampton to Liverpool
2014 fee: €31.3m
92. Juan Sebastian Veron, Parma to Lazio
1999 fee: €31.7m | Adjusted fee: €31.3m
91. Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal to Manchester City
2009 fee: €29m | Adjusted fee: €31.4m
90. Mario Balotelli, Internazionale to Manchester City
2010 fee: €29.3m | Adjusted fee: €31.4m
89. Robin van Persie, Arsenal to Manchester United
2012 fee: €30.5m | Adjusted fee: €31.4m
88. Fabio Coentrao, Benfica to Real Madrid
2011 fee: €30.1m | Adjusted fee: €31.6m
87. Antonio Cassano, Bari to Roma
2001 fee: €26m | Adjusted fee: €31.7m
86. Jaap Stam, Manchester United to Lazio
2001 fee: €26m | Adjusted fee: €31.9m
85. David Silva, Valencia to Manchester City
2010 fee: €30m | Adjusted fee: €32.1m
84. Wilfried Bony, Swansea City to Manchester City
2015 fee: €32.6m
83. Danny, Dynamo Moscow to Zenit St. Petersburg
2008 fee: €30m | Adjusted fee: €32.7m
82. Oscar, Internacional to Chelsea
2012 fee: €31.9m | Adjusted fee: €32.9m
81. Marouane Fellaini, Everton to Manchester United
2013 fee: €32.4m | Adjusted fee: €32.9m
80. Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona to Chelsea
2014 fee: €33.3m
79. James Milner, Aston Villa to Manchester City
2010 fee: €31.4m | Adjusted fee: €33.7m
78. Edin Dzeko, Wolfsburg to Manchester City
2011 fee: €32.5m | Adjusted fee: €34.1m
77. Hidetoshi Nakata, Roma to Parma
2001 fee: €28.6m | Adjusted fee: €34.8m
76. Willian, Shakhtar Donetsk to Anzhi Makhachkala
2013 fee: €34.5m | Adjusted fee: €35m
75. Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea to Everton
2014 fee: €35m
74. Ronaldinho, Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona
2003 fee: €29.5m | Adjusted fee: €35.3m
73. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Manchester City to Chelsea
2005 fee: €33.5m | Adjusted fee: €35.4m
72. Willian, Anzhi Makhachkala to Chelsea
2013 fee: €34.9m | Adjusted fee: €35.4m
71. Marquinhos, Roma to Paris Saint-Germain
2013 fee: €35m | Adjusted fee: €35.5m
70. Ricardo Carvalho, Porto to Chelsea
2004 fee: €30.2m | Adjusted fee: €35.6m
69. Filippo Inzaghi, Juventus to Milan
2001 fee: €28.5m | Adjusted fee: €35.7m
68. Ander Herrera, Athletic Bilbao to Manchester United
2014 fee: €36.3m
67. Yaya Toure, Barcelona to Manchester City
2010 fee: €33.8m | Adjusted fee: €36.3m
66. Luke Shaw, Southampton to Manchester United
2014 fee: €37.4m
65. Mario Gotze, Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich
2013 fee: €37m | Adjusted fee: €37.6m
64. Ruud van Nistelrooy, PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United
2001 fee: €31m | Adjusted fee: €38m
63. Xabi Alonso, Liverpool to Real Madrid
2009 fee: €35.4m | Adjusted fee: €38.4m
62. Eden Hazard, Lille to Chelsea
2012 fee: €37.5m | Adjusted fee: €38.7m
61. Dani Alves, Sevilla to Barcelona
2008 fee: €35.7m | Adjusted fee: €38.8m
60. Denilson, Sao Paulo to Real Betis
1998 fee: €30.9m | Adjusted fee: €39.5m
59. Asier Illarramendi, Real Sociedad to Real Madrid
2013 fee: €39m | Adjusted fee: €39.6m
58. Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid to Napoli
2013 fee: €39m | Adjusted fee: €39.6m
57. Alessandro Nesta, Lazio to Milan
2002 fee: €33.1m | Adjusted fee: €40.1m
56. Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid to Chelsea
2014 fee: €40.1m
55. Eliaquim Mangala, Porto to Manchester City
2014 fee: €40.1m
54. Arjen Robben, Chelsea to Real Madrid
2007 fee: €36m | Adjusted fee: €40.2m
53. Fernandinho, Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester City
2013 fee: €40m | Adjusted fee: €40.6m
52. Javi Martinez, Athletic Bilbao to Bayern Munich
2012 fee: €39.9m | Adjusted fee: €41.1m
51. Axel Witsel, Benfica to Zenit
2012 fee: €41.9m | Adjusted fee: €44m
50. Dimitar Berbatov, Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester United
2008 fee: €37.9m
Adjusted fee: €41.2m
Dimitar Berbatov’s 2008 move to Old Trafford appeared a masterstroke by Sir Alex Ferguson at the time, as the former United manager intercepted the Bulgarian at Manchester airport while en-route to sign for neighbours City. It was an audacious coup.
Everything about the charismatic Bulgarian suggested he was ready-made for life with the Red Devils, with United fans craving an elegant playmaker to take up the mantle of Eric Cantona in the 1990s.
While Berbatov’s one-in-two scoring record over his four seasons with United was strong, he was never able to hit the heights expected. There were moments of sheer brilliance, and his 20-goal return in the 2010-11 Premier League season was magnificent. However, there were few complaints when he was allowed to join Fulham in 2012, having fallen out of the first-team reckoning.
49. Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal to Barcelona
2011 fee: €39.8m
Adjusted fee: €41.8m
Barcelona paid through the nose to bring Cesc Fabregas home in 2011, shelling out most of their summer budget. Returning a former La Masia product back to Catalonia seemed an obsession of the board's, and Arsenal eventually relented, allowing their star midfielder to leave.
But it didn't work out. In fact, some would go as far as to say he flopped on his return to Camp Nou.
It felt like Cesc was acquired due to concerns over the ageing Xavi Hernandez, but his time away from the club had seen him pick up more direct footballing habits. He no longer fit in among his former La Masia classmates.
Fabregas' best season was under Gerard Martino, who employed direct football, and that highlighted just how suited he was to the Premier League. He soon returned in 2014 to Chelsea.
48. Radamel Falcao, Porto to Atletico Madrid
2011 fee: €40.1m
Adjusted fee: €42.1m
After losing Sergio Aguero to the clutches of Manchester City, Atletico Madrid dipped back into the market to sign another star striker.
Radamel Falcao fit the bill perfectly, and following some typically tough negotiations, Atletico manager Diego Simeone was able to extract him from FC Porto's ranks, where he'd been shining on a weekly basis.
The Colombian had made his name as the ultimate poacher in Portugal, and some of his headed goals were converted with unerring accuracy. In Spain, though, he learnt to carry attacks better and combined with Diego Costa and Arda Turan to great effect.
Another big move soon beckoned, as Falcao left to Monaco in 2013 for an even larger fee.
47. Michael Essien, Lyon to Chelsea
2005 fee: €36.6m
Adjusted fee: €42.2m
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas held out all summer for a top price for Michael Essien, and while it eventually fell short of his initial demands, he took great delight in telling the world: "It is a wrench but for the club this is a good deal, the transfer should be superior to that of Didier Drogba," per BBC.
At the time it was true—Essien went for €600,000 more than Drogba just a year on—but in adjusted terms the Ghanaian midfielder falls just short of his Chelsea team-mate due to inflation rates the year before.
Essien was once one of the finest players in the Premier League, a real powerhouse in midfield. Injuries caught up with him and his form tail-spun, but defenders still remember him rampaging past on the way to the box.
46. Didier Drogba, Marseille to Chelsea
2004 fee: €36m
Adjusted fee: €42.7m
Didier Drogba was expensive, but worth it. He paid his own fee back three or four times over with consistently superb, goal-laden seasons.
His crowning moment was the winning penalty in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, beating Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich in a true test of nerve to seal the trophy that owner Roman Abramovich had been chasing for years. His header took the tie to extra-time, so it was only right when his final stroke of the ball concluded a historic win.
A bruising, battering ram of a striker, yet technically deft as well, Drogba had it all. He's one of the finest to ever grace the turf.
45. David Villa, Valencia to Barcelona
2010 fee: €39.8m
Adjusted fee: €42.7m
After Spain were crowned world champions in South Africa in 2010, the hearts of Barcelona's top brass settled on the idea of adding David Villa to their attack. He'd complete theirs like he did La Furia Roja's.
It took just south of €40 million to convince Valencia to sell, and the early months were tough. As with Cesc Fabregas, Aliaksandr Hleb and many more, it took months to grasp the Barca style of play as an "outsider"—if they ever did at all.
Villa eventually settled and scored heaps of goals off the left flank, cutting in and latching onto Lionel Messi's through-balls and profiting from the Argentinian movement. He was an absolute machine.
44. Luka Modric, Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid
2012 fee: €41.6m
Adjusted fee: €42.9m
Then-Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, frustrated by Barcelona's (and other team's) ability to press and harass his immobile playmakers, sought a joker card to play in big games. Luka Modric was that card.
His subtle shift and strike against Manchester United in 2014 at Old Trafford put in plain text every reason he was bought: When Real Madrid ran into brick walls, Modric could be the agile, creative difference.
He's become a key part of Carlo Ancelotti's Blancos side, even with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos arriving for big fees. That's a testament to the Croatian's lasting ability and class.
43. David Beckham, Manchester United to Real Madrid
2003 fee: €35.9m
Adjusted fee: €43m
The story leading up to global superstar David Beckham’s 2003 move to Real Madrid was something of a soap opera, as the England international’s declining relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson played out for all to see. Most memorably, of course, Beckham was struck on the head by a boot kicked by the Scottish manager during a changing-room contretemps.
For a player with Beckham’s off-pitch ambitions, Real Madrid was the perfect club. He had the image to fit with the club’s "Galactico" policy and was unveiled in front of over 500 journalists in early July. The player himself described the move as “a dream," per BBC Sport.
Beckham’s time in Madrid was not as successful as he would have hoped when leaving Manchester for pastures new. His solitary league title came in his final season in the Spanish capital, having fought back from a spat with manager Fabio Capello to play a major role in the club's success. No Champions League trophy, though, is a blot on any Real Madrid player’s career.
42. Andy Carroll, Newcastle United to Liverpool
2011 fee: €40.9m
Adjusted fee: €43m
England striker Andy Carroll was in the goalscoring form of his life prior to his January 2011 switch from Newcastle United to Liverpool. He had opened the 2010-11 Premier League season with 11 goals in 19 games for the Magpies.
Following the late departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Liverpool were in the market for a new striker right on the verge of the January transfer window’s closure. Newcastle, well aware of their rival's new-found wealth and lack of time, held firm in negotiations and secured an incredible £35 million for their 22-year-old striker.
Unveiled alongside Luis Suarez, Carroll was supposed to be the focal point for a new Liverpool under the guidance of manager Kenny Dalglish. However, 18 months later, after a return of just six league goals in 44 outings, the giant striker headed to West Ham United on loan.
In June 2013, Carroll left for the Hammers on a permanent basis, signing for a cut-price fee of just £15 million. While his form picked up in east London, injuries and inconsistency have prevented him from coming anywhere close to explaining what Liverpool saw to justify such lavish expenditure.
41. Lilian Thuram, Parma to Juventus
2001 fee: €38.9m
Adjusted fee: €44m
Lilian Thuram, a World Cup winner in 1998 with France, played a versatile role in defence for whoever needed him to—but it was always at a top-tier club.
Juventus paid an exorbitant fee to take him from Parma in 2001, and he arrived the same year as a certain legendary goalkeeper that we'll come to a little later on.
Thuram's illustrious career was curtailed after a short spell with Barcelona, as a medical ahead of a Paris Saint-Germain move revealed a heart problem, forcing him to retire in 2008.
40. Javier Pastore, Palermo to Paris Saint-Germain
2011 fee: €41.9m
Adjusted fee: €44m
Javier Pastore shocked the world when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain for €41.9 million in 2011, as Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini drove his usual hard bargain and extracted a remarkable amount of cash from the French giants.
But Pastore has hardly set the world alight for PSG. His highest moment was perhaps the famous goal against Chelsea in the Champions League last season—but even then, he was an impact substitute.
Like Juan Roman Riquelme, he's the sort of player who needs everything built around him. When sharing a team with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that's frankly impossible.
39. Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona to Arsenal
2014 fee: €44m
Adjusted fee: N/A
In the summer of 2013, Arsenal bought Mesut Ozil. A year later, they secured the services of Alexis Sanchez after his stunning year with Barcelona and Chile.
Talk about adding elite firepower.
After succeeding under a system built to maximise his output at the Camp Nou, Arsene Wenger has tried to ensure Alexis is the focal point of the Arsenal attack wherever possible. He's the star man and the other forwards fit in around him.
38. Gabriel Batistuta, Fiorentina to Roma
2000 fee: €26.2m
Adjusted fee: €44.1m
Gabriel "Batigol" Batistuta was one of the classic Serie A legends that enticed so many across Europe to tune in to Italy's top league. Roma paid a remarkable sum for him despite him being over 30 years of age—a testament to their belief in his ability.
His honours list is regrettably short, but the transfer to the Italian capital did at last bring him the Scudetto he'd craved for so long. For Argentina he was a beast, with England finding out first-hand in the 1998 FIFA World Cup just how deadly he can be.
37. Nicolas Anelka, Arsenal to Real Madrid
1999 fee: €35.2m
Adjusted fee: €44.1m
Nicolas Anelka picked up a Champions League winners' medal during his short stint at the Bernabeu, but it's arguable he wasn't worth the trouble to Real Madrid.
He was at one point banned by then-Madrid boss Vicente del Bosque for over a month because he refused to train, but Anelka returned for the 2000 European triumph, making the difference in the semi-final against Bayern Munich.
The Frenchman was soon sold off to Paris Saint-Germain for a slight profit—stellar work from Los Blancos' front office, it must be said.
36. Karim Benzema, Lyon to Real Madrid
2009 fee: €41m
Adjusted fee: €44.5m
It took Karim Benzema years to win over the Santiago Bernabeu, and for large portions of his time at Real Madrid, the fans have remained unsold on him despite his strong goalscoring record.
Benzema arrived in 2009 as a large part of the Galactico redecoration process in Spain's capital, but Cristiano Ronaldo stole the limelight and hoovered up the goals, leaving Benzema with a slightly reduced role.
That may have helped shape him as the player he is today, though. There's no centre-forward better suited to Los Blancos' attacking "BBC" troika than the Frenchman—bar perhaps Lionel Messi!
35. Nicolas Anelka, Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain
2000 fee: €36.7m
Adjusted fee: €44.6m
Just another one of Nicolas Anelka’s many, many big-money moves, the striker signed for Paris Saint-Germain in 2000 following spells at Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Unfortunately, Anelka’s reputation for being difficult to work with once again came to the fore, as the Frenchman clashed with manager Luis Fernandez. Despite plenty of promising performances for the club, he moved on after two seasons, signing for Manchester City in 2002.
Anelka’s spell at PSG also included a six-month loan out to Liverpool, where the striker impressed under Gerard Houllier with a keen eye for goal and excellent technique. But a permanent move never came to fruition as the Reds opted for Senegal forward El Hadji Diouf instead.
34. Juan Mata, Chelsea to Manchester United
2014 fee: €44.8m
Adjusted fee: N/A
Juan Mata's €44.8 million move to Manchester United suited both player and club, but only because it served as an escape mechanism. Then-United manager David Moyes never used the Spaniard correctly, but he was right to leave Chelsea where he wasn't playing at all.
Now, Mata sits in limbo at Old Trafford as Louis van Gaal flits between using the Spaniard's services and leaving him exiled on the bench. He may look to move again in the summer of 2015 if things don't improve, but whoever takes him will need to pay through the nose.
It's a shame what's happened; Mata was the best Premier League player in 2012-13.
33. Lucas Moura, Sao Paulo to Paris Saint-Germain
2013 fee: €45m
Adjusted fee: €45.7m
When Lucas Moura joined Paris Saint-Germain in a megadeal in January 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned the state of football and suggested paying €45 million for a teenager was insane, per the London Evening Standard.
The Brazilian midfielder found life tough initially due to the star-studded nature of PSG's squad, but he has found a regular place in Laurent Blanc's XI this season and has improved rapidly as a player.
He's quick, sharp, capable of playing inside and boasts a wicked shot. His top-end speed is truly outrageous, allowing him to leave most defenders in his dust.
Lucas will look a bargain once he's fully developed.
32. James Rodriguez, Porto to Monaco
2013 fee: €45m
Adjusted fee: €45.7m
Bought after the takeover of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, James Rodriguez made the move to Monaco alongside compatriot Radamel Falcao in the summer of 2013.
Monaco fans enjoyed just one season from the talented playmaker, as James excelled for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup and earned a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid after the tournament.
A midfielder blessed with a superb first touch and outstanding technique—and just 23 years of age—James is bound to grow and develop under the guidance of Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.
31. Thiago Silva, Milan to Paris Saint-Germain
2012 fee: €44.4m
Adjusted fee: €45.8m
Named in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Thiago Silva was arguably the best defender in world football at the time of his July 2012 move to Paris Saint-Germain. And the fact that he represents the largest (original) transfer fee ever paid for a defender is testament to his status at the time.
Backed with incredible resources by their Qatari owners and linked to Milan by sporting director Leonardo, the Parisien side made a concerted effort to land Thiago over the course of a month, eventually securing his signature on July 2. The Brazilian was also joined in the French capital by long-standing team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG ushered in a new era.
In two seasons in Paris, Thiago has twice claimed the Ligue 1 crown, as well as a Coupe de la Ligue title. He has also helped the French club to strong performances in the UEFA Champions League—where PSG’s rise will truly be judged.
30. Hulk, Porto to Zenit St. Petersburg
2012 fee: €44.7m
Adjusted fee: €46.1m
In one of football’s weirder transfers, Hulk completed a move from Porto to Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg for a total of €44.7m in 2012.
Having spent the early part of his career in Japan, Hulk cemented a reputation as one of Brazil’s emerging talents at Porto with 54 goals in 99 games. A powerful presence at wide forward with a thunderous shot worthy of his namesake, Hulk continues to ply his trade in Russia—but a move to a major club seemed inevitable given the Brazilian’s talents.
So far, however, no club has come forward. And at 28, Hulk may have missed the boat.
29. Robinho, Real Madrid to Manchester City
2008 fee: €42.5m
Adjusted fee: €46.3m
A €46.3 million move to Manchester City on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2008, just hours after the club was taken over by investors from Abu Dhabi, meant that Robinho faced a huge amount of pressure from day one.
Despite a bright start to his career at City, Robinho struggled to cement his place in the first team under Sven-Goran Eriksson. And after a injury-laden second season, he was loaned out to Santos before a permanent switch to Milan.
Robinho’s injuries persisted with him while at Santos and Milan, but at his best, the Brazilian was hugely exciting to watch.
28. Wayne Rooney, Everton to Manchester United
2004 fee: €39.4m
Adjusted fee: €46.5m
At the time of his move to Manchester United in 2004, Wayne Rooney was the outstanding prospect of European football, having just set alight the international stage with his performances at Euro 2004.
In keeping with United’s policy at the time of buying a star player each season, manager Sir Alex Ferguson set his sights on the young Evertonian and spent a pretty penny to bring the teenager to Manchester. A decade on, Rooney is the third-highest scorer in United’s illustrious history and threatens to break many records in the years ahead.
Judging Rooney’s development as a player over that period is a topic of much debate, but the fact remains that in winning a Champions League and five Premier League titles, he has handsomely repaid Ferguson’s faith.
Despite his achievements, though, Rooney’s decision to twice hand in transfer requests at Old Trafford has impacted his status in the eyes of the club’s fans.
27. Sergio Aguero, Atletico Madrid to Manchester City
2011 fee: €45m
Adjusted fee: €47.3m
Sergio Aguero was one of Manchester City's first truly high-profile, thought-through signings. Unlike Robinho, who was an odd purchase, Aguero signalled the start of a dominant new dawn for the Citizens.
The Argentinian is often lauded as one of the finest players in the Premier League and rightly so. His blend of power, pace, agility and eagle-eye finishing makes him one of the deadliest marksmen in world football.
Even with David Silva and Yaya Toure in the same team, he's arguably the most important player manager Manuel Pellegrini has at his disposal.
26. Andriy Shevchenko, Milan to Chelsea
2006 fee: €43.8m
Adjusted fee: €50m
Another of Roman Abramovich’s big signings, Andriy Shevchenko signed for Chelsea from Milan for a fee of €43.8 million in 2006, smashing the English record.
Under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Shevchenko struggled to adapt to English football, scoring just four league goals in his first season. Things didn’t improve under Felipe Scolari, and the striker was eventually loaned back to Milan in 2008.
In his prime, Shevchenko was lethal in front of goal, plundering 127 goals in 208 games for the Rossoneri, but the Ukrainian’s struggles in England left many Chelsea fans disappointed.
25. Pavel Nedved, Lazio to Juventus
2001 fee: €41m
Adjusted fee: €50.3m
After five seasons at Lazio, Pavel Nedved moved to league rivals Juventus, replacing the Real Madrid-bound Zinedine Zidane.
It was a tough ask to replace the Frenchman, but Nedved more than lived up to his billing by winning two successive Scudettos in 2002 and 2003 as part of one of the most successful Juventus sides ever. More Serie A titles would follow in 2005 and 2006, but they were revoked due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
At his height, Nedved was a delight to watch as one of Europe’s most talented wingers, combining pace and technique to deadly effect.
24. Marc Overmars, Arsenal to Barcelona
2000 fee: €40.6m
Adjusted fee: €50.8m
Dutch sensation Marc Overmars completed a €40.6 million move from Arsenal to Barcelona in the summer of 2000 along with fellow team-mate Emmanuel Petit.
At Barcelona, Overmars continued to excel, but due to the club’s struggles both domestically and abroad, he failed to win any titles of note. There was a high note, though: The Dutchman scored arguably one of the finest team goals ever after finishing off a move of 29 uninterrupted passes against Liverpool in the Champions League.
Overmars played one final season for Go Ahead Eagles after leaving Barcelona, before injuries forced his retirement from football in 2009.
23. Mesut Ozil, Real Madrid to Arsenal
2013 fee: €50m (£40m)
Adjusted fee: €50.8m
Mesut Ozil's transfer to Arsenal came as a by-product of Gareth Bale's blockbuster move from Tottenham Hotspur to the Spanish capital, with even the mighty Real Madrid needing to make some cash back under the Financial Fair Play era.
Ozil divides opinion in the most intense of fashions, as some appreciate his wand-like boot when creating goals, while others suggest he is too weak, too feeble and not willing enough to track back on defence.
Arsene Wenger doesn't help the debate by fielding him out of position with regularity, and for all intents and purposes, his game does scream "classic No. 10." You get the impression he'll never fully convince some supporters, while others will herald him as an underrated genius.
22. Juan Sebastian Veron, Lazio to Manchester United
2001 fee: €42.6m
Adjusted fee: €52.3m
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most high-profile signings, Juan Sebastian Veron completed his move to Old Trafford in 2001, becoming the most expensive player in English football at the time.
Under huge pressure, Veron failed to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and, combined with a series of injuries, proved to be an expensive flop. After two seasons with United, the midfielder moved on to Chelsea, where he fared no better.
21. Rio Ferdinand, Leeds United to Manchester United
2002 fee: €44.8m
Adjusted fee: €54.3m
Rio Ferdinand's career has taken a dip following an underwhelming last hurrah at Queens Park Rangers, but Manchester United paid big to land him from Leeds United, and the decision was more than justified.
His deep cabinet of honours, gained under the stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson, will be the lasting memory of him as a player—not the missed drugs test in 2003, which landed him a hefty ban.
Passion, skill, technique and ability on the ball were all hallmarks of his game. His passing from the back, cool, calm nature and commanding stance made him a dream to play with.
20. Christian Vieri, Lazio to Internazionale
1999 fee: €43m
Adjusted fee: €54.6m
By the time Inter came calling, Vieri had played for eight different clubs over eight successive seasons, forging a reputation as a journeyman striker. But the Italian hit the big time with the Nerazzurri.
Rocketing to fame during Serie A’s heyday, Vieri netted an incredible 103 times in just 143 appearances, cementing his status as one of the deadliest poachers around.
Despite much investment in the team and a mouth-watering strike partnership with Ronaldo and later Hernan Crespo, Vieri left Inter with just a Coppa Italia medal to show for his performances.
19. Gianluigi Buffon, Parma to Juventus
2001 fee: €45m
Adjusted fee: €55.3m
Gianluigi Buffon's blockbuster transfer happened in a time where Italy's clubs reigned supreme in deals. The Parma product, an obvious talent from an early age, was snapped up by Juventus quickly and has tended the nets ever since.
With 146 caps for Italy, a FIFA World Cup win and countless domestic honours, there's not a soul in the world who would suggest he wasn't worth the price paid—and it looked an awful lot bigger in Italian lira, too!
18. Ronaldo, Internazionale to Real Madrid
2002 fee: €46m
Adjusted fee: €55.7m
The "other" Ronaldo, as he is so cruelly called in 2015.
This Brazilian can stake a legitimate claim to being the best striker ever to play the game, with his amazing blend of pace, power, technique and guile flummoxing defenders year after year.
The way he used to drag the ball around at 100 m.p.h. with consummate ease astounded fans, and it's no wonder Real Madrid splashed out to sign him from Internazionale even if he had a known problem with injuries.
He arrived injured and left injured, but boy was he adored.
17. Carlos Tevez, MSI to Manchester City
2009 fee: €53m*
Adjusted fee: €57.5m
In a transfer swoop that had Sir Alex Ferguson spitting feathers, Manchester City snatched Carlos Tevez from under Manchester United’s noses in a reported €53 million move to the Eastlands in 2009. Tevez had spent the previous two seasons on loan at United, but the transfer fee was paid to Tevez's third-party owners, Media Sports Investment.
To announce Tevez's arrival at City, the club infamously erected a "Welcome to Manchester" billboard. The Argentinian went on to enjoy four successful years with the Citizens, scoring 58 times in 113 appearances.
Premier League and FA Cup triumphs followed for Tevez before moving on to Italian giants Juventus, where he still excels to this day.
*NB: Tevez's reported €53 million fee was purported by The Times and seems to be an accepted figure, but the deal is still seemingly open to interpretation.
16. Gaizka Mendieta, Valencia to Lazio
2001 fee: €48m
Adjusted fee: €58.9m
Another one of Lazio’s big-money buys, Gaizka Mendieta earned rave reviews in his time at Valencia as part of Hector Cuper’s side which reached two successive Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001.
Despite failing to win either final, Mendieta’s performances saw Lazio fork out a huge sum to bring him to Italy. Unfortunately, the Spanish midfielder struggled to fill the sizeable hole left behind by the departures of key players Pavel Nedved and Juan Sebastian Veron.
After just one year, Mendieta was deemed a flop. He was loaned out to Barcelona for the 2002-03 season before making a shock move to the Premier League with Middlesbrough the following year.
15. Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid to Monaco
2013 fee: €60m
Adjusted fee: €60.9m
After leading FC Porto and Atletico Madrid to UEFA Europa League wins, Radamel Falcao garnered something of a reputation for being a European cup specialist.
He surrendered the chance to further that by making the defining money-spinning transfer to AS Monaco in 2013, swapping Spain for France in an incredible €60 million move. The Colombian, recognised as one of the finest strikers in world football, became the focal point for Claudio Ranieri's Ligue 1 title challenge with Les Monegasques.
He was a reasonable success, but the project was short-lived, and his season was cut short by a torn ACL injury that ruled him out of the World Cup. Now, he's on loan at Manchester United—one of the few clubs in world football that can afford to pay his astronomical wages.
14. Rui Costa, Fiorentina to Milan
2001 fee: €49.7m
Adjusted fee: €61m
Milan’s most expensive purchase at the time, Rui Costa sealed a move to the Rossoneri from Serie A rivals Fiorentina following their bankruptcy in 2000.
A hugely talented No. 10, Costa went on to win the Serie A title as well as the Champions League as part of an extraordinary Milan side featuring the likes of Paolo Maldini, Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo.
Eventually, the Portuguese star would be replaced by a little-known youngster called Kaka before returning home to Benfica in 2006, where he ended his career.
13. David Luiz, Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain
2014 fee: €62.6m
Adjusted fee: N/A
Chelsea fans were flabbergasted when news filtered through that they'd be selling David Luiz for €62.6 million. After a season in which he failed to crack the John Terry-Gary Cahill centre-back partnership, followed by a World Cup debacle in which the Germans ripped him to pieces, it was tough to believe anyone would be willing to pay so much for Luiz.
Laurent Blanc has paired him with Thiago Silva, his Brazilian team-mate and captain, in the hope they click and shore up Paris Saint-Germain's defence in impressive fashion. The verdict so far? Fans would honestly prefer to see Marquinhos, another €30 million-plus Brazilian centre-back, playing in Luiz's place.
12. Edinson Cavani, Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain
2013 fee: €64m
Adjusted fee: €65m
Edinson Cavani became one of the most expensive strikers of all time in moving to Paris Saint-Germain for €64 million. He opted for a move to Ligue 1's most exciting and financially fruitful project over the lures of the Premier League.
He made his reputation as an all-action centre-forward whose mobility, poacher's instinct and work rate made him malleable to any system or design, but he's been stuck out on the wing in Paris due to the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
His first season on the right flank still yielded 16 league goals, but stuck out on the left this year (allowing Lucas Moura into the side on the right), he hasn't been anywhere near as effective.
11. Fernando Torres, Liverpool to Chelsea
2011 fee: €58m
Adjusted fee: €70m
Fernando Torres to Chelsea for €58 million. The mention of that alone will send shivers coursing down Blues fans' spines.
The former Liverpool striker, riddled with injury issues and bereft of confidence, was the subject of one of the biggest punts a football chairman has ever taken. He was a Roman Abramovich signing, plain and simple, and although his trophy cabinet swelled at Stamford Bridge, he rarely contributed during his time there.
It blemishes the record of a man who was once one of the most lethal finishers in world football, but barely anyone remembers that. Best of luck to him at Atletico Madrid, his home, where he seems to be finding his feet this year.
10. Kaka, Milan to Real Madrid
2009 fee: €65m
Adjusted fee: €70.5m
Kaka's expensive move to Real Madrid didn't exactly go to plan. In fact, it goes down as one of the biggest flops in world football history.
The Brazilian playmaker, once agile and wondrous on the ball, succumbed to injury and lost the verve once associated with him. He reached his zenith at Milan in winning the Champions League, but failed to reach a level even close at the Bernabeu.
It's a shame, as at his peak, he was a dominant, world-class No. 10 and a Ballon d'Or winner.
9. Hernan Crespo, Parma to Lazio
2000 fee: €56.5m (Matias Almeyda and Sergio Conceicao included in deal)
Adjusted fee: €70.7m
Lazio smashed the world record in 2000 with the purchase of Argentinian sensation Hernan Crespo from Parma, sealing the capture of one of the hottest striking talents in Europe.
Crespo made scoring goals look easy as he notched 62 in 116 appearances before moving to Rome, then enjoyed further success with the Biancoceleste with a further 39 goals before injuries started to take their toll.
Following Lazio’s financial issues, Crespo was sold to Inter before rocking up at Chelsea. But due to his injury woes, the Argentinian’s career failed to reach the heights it once promised.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Internazionale to Barcelona
2009 fee: €69m (Samuel Eto'o included in deal)
Adjusted fee: €74.9m
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will go down as one of the best strikers in the game's history, but there's a certifiable blip on his CV in the shape of a transfer to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.
Guardiola, always the innovator and eager to stay on top, sought out Ibrahimovic as an elite-standard "Plan B" to his side's regular tiki-taka game. In other words, when death by passing failed, he wanted a taller option to create an aerial attacking dynamic.
Barca paid through the nose for him, but Pep and Zlatan clashed. They fell out early, the relationship soon became irreparable, and after one season, he left on loan to Milan. A year later, the switch was made permanent.
7. Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid to Manchester United
2014 fee: €75m
Adjusted fee: N/A
Angel Di Maria broke the British (incoming) transfer record by joining Manchester United for £59.7 million (€75m) late in the summer transfer window last year.
The Argentinian was one of Carlo Ancelotti's key players in the Champions League-winning run in 2014, breaking forward from a central midfield role, dodging tackles and creating havoc. His endless energy and impressive runs made him a key piece in Argentina's World Cup final run, too.
Los Merengues' fans were unhappy to lose him, but a shiny new star (James Rodriguez) arrived to take his place. For the sake of his career, Di Maria had to leave. United were simply in the right place at the right time.
6. Luis Figo, Barcelona to Real Madrid
2000 fee: €62m
Adjusted fee: €77.6m
Luis Figo’s transfer from Barcelona to fierce rivals Real Madrid in 2000 was Florentino Perez’s first major signing in the infamous Galacticos era and definitely the most controversial.
The Camp Nou faithful were so enraged at Figo’s "betrayal" that they welcomed his return in Real colours with a pig’s head. But the Portuguese midfielder more than justified his fee with five seasons worth of silverware, including two La Liga titles, a Champions League victory and the Ballon d’Or.
Figo might have thrown away any good will he once had at Barcelona, but he went on to cement legendary status with Los Blancos. Worth every single penny.
5. James Rodriguez, Monaco to Real Madrid
2014 fee: €79.5m
Adjusted fee: N/A
James Rodriguez's remarkable displays at the World Cup last summer paved the way for his transfer from AS Monaco to Real Madrid. Rodriguez already moved for £38.5 million the summer before and carried Colombia emotionally on the international stage, so Carlo Ancelotti was surely confident in his new signing's ability to deal with pressure.
But the jury's still out on his performance in the Spanish capital. He's flitted from position to position, with his manager switching between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 fairly regularly. He seems most at home off the right, but that's Gareth Bale's position, so James often plays centrally instead.
4. Luis Suarez, Liverpool to Barcelona
2014 fee: €81m
Adjusted fee: N/A
Luis Suarez's blockbuster move to Barcelona from Liverpool was one of two to dominate the summer of 2014. Despite the Reds qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in years, the Uruguayan took the chance to leave England—a country he was vilified in for a number of misdemeanors.
Banned for the first several months of the season after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, the former Ajax man has struggled, like many before him, to settle into the Barca groove.
At the very least, his hard running and occupation of markers allows Neymar and Lionel Messi to shine.
3. Zinedine Zidane, Juventus to Real Madrid
2001 fee: €75m
Adjusted fee: €92.1m
Zinedine Zidane soars up to third in the list of most expensive transfers of all time, with his €75 million move in 2001 gaining significant inflated interest over the last 14 years.
Acquired from Juventus, the midfield magician known as "Zizou" scored one of the greatest-ever goals in a European Cup final in 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen, volleying home from 18 yards with his weaker foot in spectacular fashion.
An athletic, technically perfect No. 10 with a temperament to boot, Zidane has become a cult hero in world football thanks to his stupendous skill and occasional aggravated outburst—the head-butt being his weapon of choice.
2. Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid
2013 fee: €91m
Adjusted fee: €92.4m
After finding success in the form of Luka Modric, Real Madrid had no hesitations in declaring Gareth Bale their No. 1 summer target in 2013. Then-Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, it seemed, had put together quite the midfield at White Hart Lane.
An exhaustive courting process culminated in the Welsh winger sealing a mightily expensive transfer on the day before the deadline—despite Los Blancos beginning their chase before the 2012-13 Premier League season had even ended.
In his debut season, a decisive run-and-goal in the Copa del Rey final sealed his status as deserving, while the UEFA Champions League win that followed represented the icing on top of a firmly justified cake.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid
2009 fee: €94m
Adjusted fee: €102.4m
Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid sent shock waves across the planet. It warped the market and changed the game among the top order of football's richest, most prestigious clubs.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka had previously tested the waters at around the £60 million mark, but no move had even come close to this astronomical outlay from Los Blancos president Florentino Perez.
Ronaldo became the most highly scrutinised player in the history of the game as a result, but his absurd goals-to-game ratio, in addition to the sheer number of shirts he sold, means he's more than paid back his eyebrow-raising fee.
All fees courtesy of Transfermarkt.co.uk and Soccerway.com unless otherwise noted. Stats courtesy of WhoScored.com.