The most expensive football transfers of the last decade

With the average annual salary of Premier League players at an all-time high, here's an overview of how much transfer fees have also increased across the world's top leagues over the last decade.

Photo: twenty20.com

The price of the world’s most expensive footballers has more than doubled over the past decade. To make matters worse for clubs scrambling to sign top talent, transfer fees for the priciest players are inflating faster than ten years ago.

Most expensive transfers: 2000s vs 2010s

Prices listed are in GPB (m)

Most Expensive Football Transfers 2000s Vs 2010s
Photo: Extra Time Media

Heading into the 2000s, the most expensive player of all time was Christian Vieri. Inter Milan paid £41.83 million to sign him from Lazio in 1999.

A decade later, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid from Manchester United for £84.6 million, just over double Vieri’s price.

Most expensive transfers of the 2000s

Prices listed are in GPB (m)

Most Expensive Transfers Of 2000s
Photo: Extra Time Media

A further ten years down the line and Neymar is the most expensive player ever at £199.5 million. His 2017 transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain cost 236% of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid fee.

Most expensive transfers of the 2010s

Prices listed are in GPB (m)

Most Expensive Transfers Of 2010s
Photo: Extra Time Media

Neymar’s transfer may have been bizarre even by modern standards, but even the tenth most expensive player of all time now (Eden Hazard) cost more than double what was paid for the 10th priciest footballer signed between 2000 and 2009 (Ronaldo Nazario).

Real Madrid paid £40.5 million for the Brazilian superstar to secure his 2002 signature from Inter Milan. Belgian star Hazard cost Los Blancos £90 million from Chelsea this year.

Accounting company BDO’s Football Finance Directors Report 2019 found that 70% of football clubs in England’s top four divisions rely on shareholders to cover losses. This is up from 57% last year.

Even so, four of the 10 most expensive transfers over the last decade involved the purchase or sale of Premier League players.

Manchester United bought Paul Pogba from Juventus for £94.5 million while Liverpool sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £130.5m. Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid from Tottenham cost £90.9m with Hazard’s £90m transfer from Chelsea rounding up the list.

La Liga clubs have spent the most on top talent, signing six of the top 10 most expensive players of the last decade. The 2017-18 season saw the league secure record revenues of €4.48bn (approx. £3.82bn).

All transfer fees are listed as per Transfermarkt’s records.

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Leonard Solms
Leonard Solms is a freelance South African multi-sport journalist who has written for a number of regional, national and international newspapers and websites. He won a Rhodes-Investec Top 100 Award in 2018, the year in which he completed his Bachelor of Journalism at Rhodes University.