The world’s top football clubs battle it out for supremacy both on and off the football pitch. In order to get that winning edge, they often splash the cash to bring in highly talented players. Here are the world’s top ten most expensive footballers ever:
Neymar (Barcelona to PSG, £198m)
In 2017, PSG made headlines by splashing out an eye-watering fee of £198m to secure the signing of the flamboyant Brazilian international Neymar. The move was part of the French club’s ambitious plans to win the Champions League.
Neymar’s presence has not yet helped the Parisians to achieve their lofty ambitions. However, since his arrival, the forward has scored 114 goals and produced 71 assists in 162 appearances for the French giants, which would be highly respectable for most forwards. Until or if PSG wins the Champions League, though, it is hard to say if Neymar was worth his giant fee.
Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to PSG, £163m)
Another one of PSG’s expensive signings, Mbappe arrived as a teenager in 2018 for a fee of £163m from Monaco after initially joining PSG on loan. Since his arrival, the French international has been highly prolific for the Parisians, scoring 188 goals and producing 92 assists in 234 appearances for PSG.
Since joining the French club, he has matured into one of the best players in the world game. The forward has yet to reach the peak of his powers, and he will no doubt continue to be prolific for the foreseeable future.
Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, £112.9m)
The Portuguese forward moved to the Spanish capital in 2019 after bursting onto the scene as a youngster with Benfica. He established himself as one of the brightest young players in the European game in Lisbon.
However, Joao Felix has struggled to make a regular impact at Atletico Madrid. He has shown hints of his undoubted talent, but not regularly. In his 126 appearances for Atleti, Joao Felix has scored 31 goals and produced 18 assists in all competitions.
It remains to be seen if he can still flourish in Madrid and live up to his massive fee. He is still young, though, and may well fulfil his potential with Atletico.
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, £107m)
The French forward terrorised La Liga defences with Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid before his big-money move to Barcelona in 2019. The Blaugrana had attempted to sign the forward in previous transfer windows.
When they finally got their man, Griezmann struggled to live up to his price tag. The forward seemed to struggle with the fact that he was no longer the main man in his team. During his time in Catalonia, he made 102 appearances, scoring 35 goals and producing 17 assists.
Within two years, Griezmann was back at Atletico. He initially joined on loan. However, his loan will become a permanent deal in the summer of 2023, costing the capital club just £18m.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, £105m)
The Brazilian international playmaker made a £105m move to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2018. The deal was an initial £105m, which could have risen to £145m with add-ons. Reportedly, he failed to reach many of those add-ons during his ill-fated Barcelona career.
During his time in Catalonia, Coutinho made 106 appearances, from which he scored 25 goals and produced 14 assists. It was a disappointing return from a player who arrived from Liverpool at the peak age for a player in his position.
After a loan spell at Bayern Munich, Coutinho joined Aston Villa in January 2022, initially on loan before making the move a permanent one in the summer of 2022. It is fair to say that the Brazilian’s displays didn’t justify his price tag.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa to Manchester City, £100m)
The England international thrived in the last few seasons at boyhood club Aston Villa. His performances were enough to persuade Manchester City to splash out £100m to acquire his services in the summer of 2021.
His Manchester City career so far has been underwhelming, to say the least. The England international has scored seven times and produced four assists in 52 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s team. His performances have been better in his second season at City, and there is hope that his attacking output will improve in the 2022/23 season.
Romelu Lukaku (Inter to Chelsea, £97.5m)
The Belgian international looked to be a good signing when he re-joined Chelsea from Inter in 2021 for a fee of £97.5m. He had matured since his first spell at Stamford Bridge, scoring prolifically for West Brom, Everton and Inter.
He looked like the complete striker at Inter. However, things didn’t go well for Lukaku in his debut season back in south west London. Lukaku scored just 11 times in 42 appearances in all competitions for the Blues.
With things obviously not clicking at Chelsea, Lukaku re-joined former club Inter in the summer of 2022, with the Nerazzurri paying a loan fee of around £7m.
Ousmane Dembele (Dortmund to Barcelona, £97m)
The winger moved to Barcelona in 2017 after some superb displays for Dortmund. The one word that seems to be attached to the winger is ‘mercurial’, as he has so much ability but also has a habit of disappearing from games or poorly performing.
Under Xavi Hernandez, Dembele does seem to have found a slightly greater level of consistency, and he still has plenty of time to prove his consistency.
Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, £89m)
Pogba is another French international who has struggled for consistency for much of his career. The midfielder re-joined United in 2016 after impressing in the centre of the Juventus midfielder. However, Pogba failed to hit his Juventus heights with the Red Devils.
Some questioned his attitude towards playing for United, as he seemed to produce his best football in the blue shirt of France. In the summer of 2022, Pogba’s contract with United expired, and ironically, he returned to Juventus as a free agent.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, £89m)
For years Eden Hazard lit up the Premier League with his dazzling skills playing for Chelsea. His exciting ability inevitably drew attention elsewhere, and in 2019, Spanish giants Real Madrid spent £89m to sign the Belgian winger.
However, Hazard has struggled to get anywhere near the sort of form he so often showed for Chelsea during his time with Real Madrid. Injury problems have restricted Hazard to just 72 appearances in his three years in the Spanish capital. A return of seven goals and 11 assists in all competitions is disappointing.
Real Madrid fans often talk about the former Lille player as one of the club’s biggest transfer mistakes. His numbers make it hard to argue with those critical Madridistas.