The English Premier League is one of the most exciting and biggest football leagues in the world game. Due to its popularity, the league has attracted big investments from owners and also media companies. T
he influx of cash into the game has seen a rise in transfer fees in the Premier League era. Here are the ten most expensive signings in Premier League history.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester, £100m)
The England international is officially the most expensive signing by any English club. Grealish had been the Villan’s talisman before the move in the summer of 2021. The attacking midfielder was regarded as one of the best players in teams outside the so-called ‘big-six’.
The season before Grealish moved to City, he produced the third most assists in the Premier League. The 27-year-old underwhelmed in his debut campaign in Manchester, scoring just three goals and producing the same number of assists in 26 appearances in the English top-flight.
Romelu Lukaku (Inter to Chelsea, £96m)
The Belgian striker returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2021. Lukaku had been with Chelsea as a youngster before spells at West Brom, Everton, Manchester United and Inter. His most fruitful period in the English game was at Everton, where he was prolific in front of goal.
However, it was his form playing in Milan for Inter that persuaded the Blues to resign the striker in a deal worth £96m. His ill-fated second spell in south west London yielded just eight league goals in 26 appearances, with only 16 of those appearances being starts.
In the summer of 2022, Lukaku returned to Inter on a season-long loan deal. It remains to be seen where the Belgian international future now lies.
Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, £86m)
The Frenchman is another player who returned to a former club. Pogba was on United’s books as a youngster but moved to Juventus in 2012 as a free agent following the expiration of his contract. The midfielder thrived in Turin and played some of the best football of his career with the Bianconeri.
Returning to Manchester in 2016 for £86m was maybe not the best move. Pogba maybe felt he had a point to prove with the Red Devils. However, his performances were highly inconsistent for United. His time at the club was not helped by the fact that he was not always played in his favoured central midfield position. His French national team displays were more convincing over the years.
In the summer of 2022, Pogba once again joined Juventus, and once again, it was as a free agent with United receiving nothing but a sense of regret over what could have been.
Antony (Ajax to Manchester United, £82.2m)
The Brazilian youngster joined United from Dutch giants Ajax for a reported fee of £82.2m on transfer deadline day in 2022. The winger impressed with his technical ability during his time in Amsterdam. However, some eyebrows were raised about the massive fee for a player who scored just 17 goals and produced 12 assists in his final two seasons in the Eredivisie.
Only time will tell if the winger lives up to the price tag. As with any young player, he will need time to adapt, and he could develop into a top player in Manchester.
Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United, £80m)
In the summer of 2019, Harry Maguire became the world’s most expensive defender when he switched from Leicester to United. Maguire had established a considerable reputation with the Foxes, and within a few months of his arrival in Manchester, he became the Red Devils captain.
The England international centre-back performed steadily in his first few seasons. However, in season 2021/22, his form fell apart as United struggled as a team. He even found himself out of the United starting line-up at the start of the 2022/23 season.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton to Manchester United, £75m)
Lukaku’s second entry into our top ten list. The 29-year-old moved to Manchester United from Everton for a fee of £75m in the summer of 2017. Lukaku had proven himself as one of the most dangerous forwards in the English top-flight during his time with the Toffees.
However, he wanted to play Champions League football, something Everton couldn’t offer him. The move to Old Trafford looked perfect for the player and the Red Devils. The move didn’t work out. Lukaku scored 16 and 12 Premier League goals in his two seasons at United, which are not terrible numbers by any means.
They were not the numbers of a £75m striker, however. The striker did feel like he was singled out for criticism during his time in Manchester when the team underperformed. United reportedly received their money back for Lukaku when he joined Inter in 2019. He went on to sparkle with Nerazzurri before that ill-fated move to Chelsea.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, £75m)
Before Maguire’s move to Manchester United, Virgil van Dijk was the most expensive defender in the world following a 2018 switch from Southampton to Liverpool for a fee of £75m. The Dutch defender is a rare success story on our top ten list.
The former Celtic star helped Jurgen Klopp’s team win their only Premier League title and the Champions League. He was the solid defensive foundation the Reds team was built upon. His displays earned him praise and accolades. In 2019, Van Dijk finished as runner-up in the Ballon d’Or and is now regarded as one of the best centre-backs to have ever graced the Premier League.
Jadon Sancho (Dortmund to Manchester United, £73m)
Yet another big money signing for United. The England winger joined the Red Devils in the summer of 2021 from Dortmund for £73m. Sancho had developed into one of the world’s most exciting young attacking players at BVB.
Unfortunately for United and Sancho, the winger underwhelmed in his opening campaign at Old Trafford. The 22-year-old scored three goals and produced the same number of assists in his debut campaign with the Red Devils.
He is still young, though, and there is hope that he could be a success with United after making a brighter start in his second campaign under Erik ten Hag.
Nicolas Pepe (Lille to Arsenal, £72m)
When Nicolas Pepe arrived at Arsenal from Lille in 2019 for a fee of £72m, the Ivorian was seen as one of the hottest attacking players in the world game. He had just scored 22 goals and produced 11 assists in the French top-flight. The previous season he had contributed to 17 goals in Ligue One.
His price brought expectations that Pepe couldn’t live up to. His debut season saw the winger score five goals and produce six assists in the English top-flight. Meanwhile, he improved his goal tally in his second season, scoring ten league goals, despite starting just 16 matches in the Premier League.
Pepe barely featured in his third campaign, making 20 league appearances, with 15 coming off the bench. Unsurprisingly, the campaign saw him score once and two just two assists in the English top-flight.
In the summer of 2022, Pepe returned to France, as he signed a season-long loan deal with Nice. It seems doubtful that the winger will feature again for the Gunners.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Club to Chelsea, £72m)
The goalkeeper made a £72m move from Athletic Club to Chelsea in 2018. The deal was a record for a goalkeeper. The Blues were desperate to sign a goalkeeper after Thibaut Courtois moved to Real Madrid. In their desperation, Chelsea looks to have made a massive misstep.
In Bilbao, Kepa looked like a highly confident and reliable goalkeeper. However, except for season 2019/20, when he looked decent under the stewardship of Maurizio Sarri, Kepa has looked majorly unconvincing.
Chelsea were left so unconvinced by the big-money signing that they brought in Senegalese stopper Edouard Mendy from Rennes in 2020. The 30-year-old has since made the number one spot his own and turned Kepa into a highly expensive benchwarmer.