Transfer fees are rarely, if ever, helpful to a player. A hefty fee is more likely to mean big pressure, and even the best young players can wilt under the expectations that big money moves bring. Across the history of the beautiful game, players have been bought and sold for some absolutely unbelievable fees.
Jadon Sancho has finally been signed as a Manchester United player after a long quest by the club. As he signed for an initial €85 million fee, which was valued at €125 last summer, brought back the debate of the most expensive football transfers of all time. Sure, Sancho is not even in the top 10 list of most expensive signings but had he signed for the Red Devils last summer, he would have found himself somewhere in that top 10 list.
There have been 32 players involved in transfers that have cost €70 million or more – with Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku having two apiece.
The Business Standard (TBS) makes a list of the 10 most expensive and utterly insane transfers signings of all time that have broken the bank the most over the years.
1. Neymar (Barcelona to PSG, 2017) - €222m
Neymar is still the most expensive footballer on the planet and that's been the case since back in 2017. The Brazilian sensation was always going to demand a high fee but very few folks would've predicted that Paris Saint-Germain would fork out more than €200 million to seal the deal.
At the heart of Neymar's record-shattering move to Paris was the desire to step out from Lionel Messi's shadow - to be the undisputed star of his 'own' team.
PSG had tried to lure him away a year earlier, only for the Brazilian to sign a new contract, one which pushed his release clause to crazy levels. A year later, in the summer of 2017, Neymar's representatives approached Nasser al-Khelaifi, the PSG chairman, to tell him Neymar was ready to leave Barcelona and there was no hesitation.
He has proven his talent in Paris, with 135 goal involvements in 97 games, but has yet to achieve the two main aims when leaving Barca - the Ballon D'Or and a Champions League trophy, although, in 2020 he steered them to the final hurdle before going down to Bayern Munich in the final.
2. Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to PSG, 2017) - €180m
The youngster Kylian Mbappe didn't quite replicate his 2018 World Cup heroics at Euro 2020 but his stock remains sky-high.
Back in 2018, Monaco had no choice but to let their talisman move to PSG for a whopping €180 million, which has already proven to be a solid investment.
In June 2020, Mbappe was valued at a staggering €234m and in the prime of his career, was considered the most expensive player on the planet.
Six months later he was valued at €135m by the CIES Football Observatory algorithm – mostly due to the economic impacts of coronavirus.
Mbappe has scored 104 goals and had 57 assists in his 104 games with PSG, but his greatest moment came as a key member of the 2018 French World Cup-winning team. His relationship and the demands on him and Neymar under new boss Mauricio Pochettino will be fascinating to watch.
3. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, 2018) - €145m
Philippe Coutinho lit the English Premier League on fire whilst at Anfield and even came close to dragging the Reds to an unlikely title. Alas, it wasn't quite meant to be, and he was instead shipped off to Barcelona for a large fee.
A fantastic deal for Liverpool, who used the funds they received to complete their title-winning squad, and Coutinho ended up with a Champions League medal – just for the wrong team. Barcelona's record transfer has been a disaster for them, and one that keeps giving.
After a disappointing 18 months, Coutinho was loaned to Bayern Munich, where he scored two goals in an 8-2 rout of Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals last year.
4. Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, 2019) - €126m
It's so easy to forget that Joao Felix is just 21-years-old because it already feels as if he's been playing at the highest level for eternity.
Atletico Madrid took a huge gamble and engaged in a true leap of faith when jumping ship to Spain from Portugal and while he endured a difficult start, he played a notable role in his club's LaLiga title win last campaign.
5. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, 2019) - €120m
He was staying, then he was going, then he was staying again, and then he finally bit the bullet and jumped across Spain from Madrid to Barcelona, much to the disappointment of the Atletico faithful.
The French World Cup winner was bought party due to the failures of Coutinho and Dembele to make an impact, and he's suffered much the same fate. Although Barca have rejected suggestions they might look to offload him in January, he's been struggling to make an impact.
The 29-year-old scored just nine times from 35 La Liga matches last season under Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien, and he's added just three goals in 16 this campaign and the Blaugrana are clearly missing Luis Suarez.
6. Ousmane Dembele (Dortmund to Barcelona, 2017) - €105m
When Dembele joined Barca from Dortmund, he was no doubt one of the most exciting, unpredictable young talents in football.
When fit, the forward has shown glimpses of that clear ability, though injuries have undoubtedly hampered his time at the Nou Camp.
There have been recent signs that he could rediscover his pace and power, and Koeman is a believer. "Everything starts with the players himself," Koeman said.
7. Paul Pogba (Juventus to Man Utd, 2016) - €105m
It always felt inevitable that Paul Pogba would return to Manchester United and in 2016, he did.
The last five years have been as newsworthy as they have been unpredictable with the Frenchman going back and forth between an absolute force of nature and a media scapegoat.
Pogba's homecoming on a then world-record fee promised so much but has delivered so little, although there is still a glimmer that he can play a role in a title-winning team. If the four semifinal defeats in the past two years had been converted into silverware he might be considered in a different light, and he might not be so keen on busting down the exit door.
8. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, 2019) - €100m
Eden Hazard was, for a period of time, one of the best talents in the world. That reputation led to Real going after him for a fairly large fee and while things may not have worked out just yet due to his many injury problems, there's always time for that to change.
The Chelsea legend has struggled at Real so far as he's suffered from seven different injuries in 18 months since joining, including a fractured foot that saw him miss 17 matches from December to January last year.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus, 2018) - €100m
There were plenty who questioned what Ronaldo had left in the tank after nine years at the summit of the game in Madrid, but he has blown the doubters away with his continued excellence in Turin.
10. Gareth Bale (Tottenham to Real Madrid, 2013) - €100m
It was a transfer that had been heavily rumoured for a few years and finally, in 2013, Gareth Bale made his way over from London to Madrid. The Welshman's stint there hasn't always gone that smoothly but through his Champions League final heroics alone, he should always be remembered as a hero.