The 11 Biggest Transfers in Football History: The Most Expensive Players (2023 UPDATE)

Football today is brimming with talent, with clubs eager to spot and nurture young prospects. However, some players find success later in their careers and secure lucrative deals. Here, we present a list of the top highest-paid football players in history, showcasing the sport’s evolution into a lucrative business.

#1 Neymar

It appeared extremely challenging for anyone to surpass this remarkable feat. This groundbreaking record not only involved the most significant investment ever witnessed, but it also marked an unparalleled football marketing endeavour. It seemed inconceivable that a simple sheik’s generous financial resources could separate him from the talented Leo Messi. Astonishingly, PSG accomplished this monumental acquisition without any incentives or negotiations, paying a seemingly unattainable clause at the time.


France and PSG star Kylian Mbappe is the highest paid player in world football.

#2 Kylian Mbappe

The loan deal between Monaco and PSG involving a significant purchase option of 145 million was a groundbreaking moment in football. While reports initially indicated a possible increase to 180 million, certain conditions needed to be met for the full amount to be realized. Specifically, the French striker would have to be transferred or sign a contract extension, which has yet to occur. This insightful information is presented by ‘L’Equipe’.

#3 Ousmane Dembele

Highlighting the unprecedented economic and sporting management of Borussia Dortmund, they initially incurred a cost of 105 million from Barcelona. However, as the fulfilled bonuses have amounted to 135 million, they have proven to be a model of modern transfers.
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Philippe Coutinho Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho spent five years at Liverpool before moving to Barcelona. He’s now back in the English Premier League at Aston Villa.

#4 Phillipe Coutinho

Dembele’s record-breaking transfer to Barcelona was soon surpassed by Coutinho’s signing, setting a new benchmark at an unprecedented €120m. Notably, additional variables in his contract brought the total spending to approximately €135m.

#5 Joao Felix

Atletico Madrid took a surprising gamble by making a significant investment in a Portuguese player. Not only did the Madrid club spend 126 million, but they also had to add 1.2 for the solidarity payment mechanism to Porto.

#6 Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona capitalised on the opportunity to sign the Frenchman from Atletico Madrid at a reduced clause of 120 million. Despite the red-and-white’s resistance, the striker matched Barca’s previous payment for Coutinho.

#7 Cristiano Ronaldo

He has achieved remarkable feats, notably through his record-breaking transfers. In 2009, Real Madrid secured his services from Manchester United for an unprecedented 96 million, uncharted territory for any club. Then, in the summer of 2018, Juventus shattered records by dishing out 117 million to acquire him from Santiago Bernabeu, cementing his status as the most expensive signing in Serie A history.

#8 Eden Hazard

In the summer of 2019, Real Madrid invested heavily in acquiring a Belgian player for a staggering 100 million euros, with additional fees reaching 30 million euros. Surprisingly, recent reports suggest that the total cost has already surged to 115 million euros. However, some Belgian media outlets claimed that Chelsea received a whopping 160 million euros, a figure denied by ‘Merengues’ themselves.

#9 Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku’s homecoming to Chelsea marked the club’s most record-breaking transfer fee. The staggering 115 million that the Londoners splurged on the Belgian phenom propelled his career earnings to an astronomical 327 million.

#10 Declan Rice

In July 2023, Declan Rice shattered the British player transfer fee record by signing a staggering deal worth €116m with Arsenal, surpassing the previous record held by Jack Grealish, who was acquired by Manchester City from Aston Villa for €117m in the summer of 2021. Before Grealish’s transfer, Gareth Bale held the title of the most expensive British football player, with Real Madrid securing his services from Tottenham in 2013 for €100.8m.

#11 Enzo Fernandez

Chelsea was highly impressed by the exceptional performance displayed by him during the World Cup. Consequently, an enticing bid was extended to secure his signing in January 2023. Despite Benfica’s initial resistance, their determination wavered when a whopping offer of 121 million euros was presented, ultimately resulting in his transfer to the prestigious Blues.


These transfers affected the entire field of football and were events that changed the attitude toward football. Now professional football players are one of the highest-paid professions in the world, but it’s worth it. Those emotions that your favourite teams give are worth the money.