Five biggest transfers in football history

Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr during the Ligue 1 match between Clermont Foot 63 and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Gabriel Montpied on August 06, 2022 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)
Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr during the Ligue 1 match between Clermont Foot 63 and Paris Saint-Germain at Stade Gabriel Montpied on August 06, 2022 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images) /
Kylian Mbappe’s move to PSG remains one of football’s most expensive transfers ever. (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage) /

In the world of football, one of the most exciting phases are the transfer windows. Two transfer window periods happen every year — one in January — and another during the summer.

Ambitious clubs looks to make statement signings to keep improving  and help them compete for major titles. Some teams prefer to make low-budget, economic signings, but the wealthier sides never shy away from paying insanely high transfer fees for big-name players.

Player transfers have evolved over the years and have become a main attraction in the 21st century, with clubs getting richer and richer while spending hundreds of millions on new players.

With that being said, let’s look at the five biggest transfers in football history.

Neymar joins PSG to break football transfer record

The entire landscape of football transfers changed forever in the summer of 2017. PSG, with their billionaire Qatari owners at the helm, decided to make a statement of intent that would force everyone to take notice.

Neymar wasn’t entirely happy at Barcelona because he believed he wasn’t given the respect he deserved. The Brazilian had a massive release clause of a £198 million in his contract, meaning a club would have to pay an insane amount of money to get him. PSG did just that, stunning the footballing world.

Even though Barcelona were against the move and tried to reject it, once the release clause was met Neymar could move even against their wishes. Neymar became the centerpiece of the PSG project and received a wage of £3.4 million per week. It’s unlikely a transfer so dramatic will ever happen nor will the £198 million fee record be broken.

 Kylian Mbappe loan turns into one of most expensive transfers

In the summer of 2017, PSG not only signed Neymar, but another world-class player as well – Kylian Mbappe. The lithe Frenchmen initially joined them on a loan deal as PSG were already pushing their limit with the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that year. Somehow, they convinced AS Monaco to send Mbappe on loan.

In 2018, the Ligue 1 giants ended up making the deal permanent for a whopping £163 million. That made the Frenchman the second most expensive signing of all time, with PSG being the team to have the two most expensive players in football history. Mbappe has since gone on to enjoy a prolific career at PSG, scoring 170 goals and providing 88 assists in 210 appearances.

He looked set to join Real Madrid earlier this year, but decided to stay at the last minute thanks to a bumper contract the Parisian club offered him.

Cristiano Ronaldo completes dream Real Madrid transfer for record fee

Cristiano Ronaldo was already one of world football’s biggest stars and a household name in 2009. He had won the Champions League with Manchester United in 2008 and also claimed his first-ever Ballon d’Or.

But the Portuguese forward wanted to take his legacy to a level higher. So he orchestrated a blockbuster transfer to La Liga giants Real Madrid to continue his quest of becoming the greatest of all time. Los Blancos were so desperate to sign Ronaldo that they agreed to break the transfer record and pay an £80 million fee.

Spending that much was pretty much unheard of back then. But the gamble proved to be worth it as the Portuguese forward helped them win four Champions League titles as well as becoming their highest-ever goal-scorer with 450 goals.

Lionel Messi makes historic switch to PSG

Now, this might not be a transfer that had a huge fee involved, but Lionel Messi joining PSG after leaving Barcelona last year was truly surreal stuff. The Argentine looked set to spend his entire career with the La Liga side.

Financial issues forced Messi to leave the Catalans and look elsewhere. He opted to join PSG where he linked up with former teammate Neymar. While there was no transfer fee involved since he joined as a free agent, Messi was rewarded a lucrative €729,000-a-week salary package.

He had a bit of a topsy-turvy debut season, taking time to adapt to his new team and only scoring 6 goals. But Leo now looks well settled and will aim to help PSG finally win the Champions League this season.

Real Madrid sign World Cup winner Zidane for major fee

It can be argued Real Madrid were the first to pay out excessively high transfer fees to sign quality players. They started doing it quite often after Florentino Perez took over as president and began the “Galacticos era” from the turn of the new century.

Their star-studded lineup featured Zinedine Zidane, whom they had signed after a lot of back and forth. Zidane was a FIFA World Cup winner with France in 1998 and one of the world’s best midfielders with Juventus when Los Blancos came knocking in 2001.

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They paid a huge £46.6 million fee for the Frenchman back then, smashing the world record in the process. Fortunately for them, Zidane proved to be a successful buy and helped them win both the La Liga and Champions League titles as a player and then as a manager as well.