A list of the world’s most expensive players, from Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne to the arrival of Paul Pogba at Old Trafford.
1) Paul Pogba (Juventus-Manchester United, 2016) £93.2m
The midfielder left Old Trafford in 2012 after making only seven appearances and returns as the world’s most expensive player. The 23-year-old was a key contributor to Juventus’s recent domination of Serie A.
2) Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur–Real Madrid, 2013) £86m
After performing to a blistering level for Tottenham during the 2012-13 season, Bale moved to the Bernabéu for a fee that eclipsed the record-breaking sum Real had spent on Cristiano Ronaldo four years earlier. There was much pressure on the Wales winger and he has endured difficult spells in Spain. But, overall, the 27-year-old has settled there and more than played a part in Real’s Champions League triumphs of 2014 and 2016.
3) Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United–Real Madrid, 2009) £80m
The winger wanted to move to Real in the summer of 2008 but was persuaded to remain at Old Trafford by Sir Alex Ferguson. A year later, and with another Premier League title to his name, he finally sealed his dream transfer, becoming the world’s most expensive player in the process. Since then the 31-year-old has gone onto score an astonishing 364 goals in 347 matches for the Spanish club, helping them to two Champions League titles and La Liga in 2012. This summer he also guided Portugal to Euro 2016 glory.
4) Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli-Juventus, 2016) £75.3m
Linked with Arsenal for some time, the Argentina forward left Napoli for another Serie A club this month. He won the c apocannoniere – Serie A’s golden boot – last season after scoring a league record-equalling 36 goals as Maurizio Sarri’s side finished runners-up to Juventus. The switch makes it almost certain the Bianconeri will make it six league titles in a row.
5) Luis Suárez (Liverpool-Barcelona, 2014) £75m
Having been described as a ‘very special talent’ by Brendan Rodgers after scoring 31 times for Liverpool during their 2014 title pursuit, the Uruguayan departed for Spain. His debut was delayed by a four-month ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during that summer’s World Cup but he eventually got going and, alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi, fired Barcelona to the 2015 treble. Eighty-four goals across two seasons are testament to Suárez’s world-class talents.
6) James Rodríguez (Monaco-Real Madrid, 2014) £63m
Having shone for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, the midfielder became Real’s major signing that summer. He has struggled for consistency at the Bernabéu and did not even come on as a substitute as Real beat Atlético Madrid to win a fourth Champions League title in 16 years at San Siro in May.
7) Ángel Di María (Real Madrid-Manchester United, 2014) £59.7m
The Argentina midfielder was man of the match for Real as they beat Atlético Madrid to win the 2014 Champions League and, as such, it came as something of a shock when he was allowed to leave shortly after. The player did not want to move and overall his time in Manchester was an unhappy one. It certainly was not a shock to see him join Paris Saint-Germain 12 months later.
8) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Internazionale-Barcelona, 2009) £57m
Having finished as top scorer for Inter as they claimed the 2009 Serie A title, Ibrahimovic moved to the Camp Nou in a deal that saw Samuel Eto’o travel the other way. It would be the latter who got more out of the transfer, forming part of a José Mourinho side that won the 2010 Champions League while Ibrahimovic failed to settle in Spain. He returned to Italy, with Milan, soon after.
9) Kaká (Milan–Real Madrid, 2009) £56m
The playmaker left Milan having starred during their triumphant 2007 Champions League campaign and in order to ease the club’s financial difficulties. He made an important contribution to Real’s 2012 La Liga triumph but his time in Spain was otherwise marked by injury setbacks and, in general, playing second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Brazilian returned to Milan in 2013.
10) Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg-Manchester City, 2015) £51m
Following a brief spell at Chelsea, the Belgian returned to England last summer for a fee that demanded he made a big impact, which he went on to do. The 25-year-old was outstanding during a generally poor season for City, scoring 15 times and impressing with his power and creativity from midfield. Who knows how much more the Belgian could have achieved had he not been sidelined for two months with ankle ligament damage.