Worldwide, there are more than a dozen top-tier football leagues, including Serie A in Italy, Bundesliga in Germany, Premier Soccer League in South Africa, and the English Premier League in England. During the international transfer window, players can move between teams in different leagues. Some of the world’s best players come with a significant price tag. To that end, more than 50 players have been purchased for transfer fees exceeding $55 million USD. Here are the five players with the highest transfer fees of all time:
Neymar ($245 Million USD)
Brazilian striker Neymar transferred from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2017 and in the process shattered the world transfer record with a fee of $245 million USD. At the time, this fee was more than double the previous highest transfer fee of $116 million USD set by Paul Pogba, who went from Juventus to Manchester United in the previous year. The fee that Juventus paid for Pogba is now the highest transfer fee of all time.
Despite the lofty price that Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar, the transaction has worked out well on the pitch for the French club. The 27-year-old scored 19 goals in 20 matches during his first season with the team and followed that up with 15 in 17 games during the 2018-19 season. He has four goals through the first four games of the 2019-20 season. Moreover, PSG was a Ligue 1 champion in each of Neymar’s first two seasons with the club. Neymar had hoped to return to Barcelona prior to the beginning of this season.
Kylian Mbappe ($198 Million USD)
Shortly after PSG acquired Neymar for a record transfer fee, the club sought to further improve its roster with the addition of French teenager Kylian Mbappe. PSG acquired the striker for a transfer fee of $160 million USD plus $38 million USD in add-ons for a combined price of $198 million USD. The transfer was agreed upon in 2017 and was made official in 2018.
Mbappe scored 15 goals in 29 Ligue 1 matches in 2016-17 and 13 goals in 27 matches the following year. He performed even better in 2018-19, his first with PSG, as he registered 33 goals in 29 matches. He also scored three goals in two Champions League matches. Despite those impressive numbers, Mbappe saved his best performance for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He became the first teenager to score twice in a World Cup match since Pele accomplished the feat in 1958 and also became France’s youngest-ever player to score a goal in the international competition.
Now 20 years old, Mbappe has earned high praise from his former teammates, coaches, and managers around the world. His PSG teammate Gianluigi Buffon believes he could be one of the best players of all-time: “If he maintains the desire to be number one, to be a great champion and humility to work to improve, he will have an incredible career ahead of him. And when I say incredible, I mean one of the best in history.”
Philippe Coutinho ($174 Million USD)
Philippe Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona is the third most expensive transfer of all time. The 27-year-old Brazilian midfielder was sent to Barcelona in 2018 for an initial transfer fee of $132 million USD with potential add-ons totaling an additional $44 million USD. However, he struggled to fit in with Barcelona’s playing style, and his performance suffered. Coutinho scored only 13 goals through 52 games in two seasons with Barcelona compared to 20 goals over 45 games during the prior two seasons with Liverpool. He was loaned to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga for the 2019-20 season, but hasn’t fared much better.
Joao Felix ($139 Million USD)
Atletico Madrid paid $139 million USD to Benfica for exciting prospect Joao Felix in 2019. The Portuguese striker was only 19 years old when he commanded that transfer fee and was courted by some of the most prominent football clubs in Europe. He scored two goals over the course of his first nine matches with Atletico Madrid. Last year, in Portugal’s Liga NOS, Felix scored 15 goals in 26 matches. The 19-year-old teenage sensation has been compared to three-time UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Antoine Griezmann ($132 Million USD)
One of the primary reasons why Atletico was willing to pay the entirety of Felix’s $139 million USD release fee was to find a replacement for Antoine Griezmann, who had been linked to Barcelona since the 2017-18 season. The pending deal did not take place until July 2019 after Griezmann’s release clause was lowered to $132 million USD. However, it still ranks as the fifth most expensive transfer agreement of all-time. The 28-year-old native of France scored four goals over the course of his first 10 games with Barcelona.