Football, or soccer to some, is probably the most popular sport in the world at and, as such, is able to generate a great amount of money. A large percentage of that money is invested in football players by the clubs. For most countries, the periods in which players can be bought and sold are two: from July 1- September 1, and during the month of January.
During these two so-called “transfer windows,” a team which wishes to strengthen its squad, is able to go shopping for players, and can start negotiating with both the athlete and the athlete’s club; if the conditions are agreed upon, the player changes his club affiliation. Here, we will introduce you to the ten footballers who cost interested clubs the biggest chunks of cash.
10. Radamel Falcao: Porto To Atletico Madrid (41.500.000 £ / 47.000.000 € / $56,250,000)
Falcao is a Columbian player who grabbed European football by the horns in the last three years. Bought by Porto for 4 million euros, he was sold for 47 million to Atletico Madrid in only two years time, thanks to some very impressive displays domestically and in the European scene. He beat Jurgen Klinsmann’s record of 15 goals in a single Europa League tournament, scoring 17 goals in the 14 games of the 2010/2011 season. His performance assured that many clubs would be interested in obtaining his services, but Porto were reluctant to sell one of their best players cheaply, and only Atletico was willing to pay the large asking price. Falcao continues to impress in Spain, scoring 36 goals in his first season with the Atleti, becoming top scorer of the Europa League for a second time in a row, and becoming the first player in history to win two consecutive Europa League/Uefa Cup titles with two different teams.
9. Gaizka Mendieta: Valencia To Lazio (42.000.000 £ /48.000.000 € / $ 60,000,000)
Mendieta’s football career is one the most disappointing ones in recent football history, given his potential, and the expectations that almost everybody had regarding what he could have become. The Spaniard impressed fans with his magnificent passing and dribbling skills for years at Valencia, during one of the strongest periods in their history, before leaving the Spanish La Liga for the Italian Serie A outfit Lazio. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to reprise his previous form, and was never able to reach the same form of excellence as before. Only a year after his pricey transfer, Mendieta was loaned out to Barcelona and Middlesbrough, before being sold to the mediocre English club in 2004. He kept playing there for several years and then retired, leaving fans to wonder what went wrong.
8. Gianluigi Buffon: Parma To Juventus (47.500.000 £ /54.200.000 € / $67,750,000)
The Italian is probably the most consistent goalkeeper in the last 20 years, and has been one of Juventus’s most loyal servants, even sticking with them when they were shamefully indicted for match fixing in 2006. Bought from Parma with part of the money received from Zinedine Zidan’s transfer, Buffon’s short-stopping abilities helped Juventus establish themselves as the dominant force in Italian football in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Having won numerous Seria A titles, a Champions League, and a World Cup, the most expensive goalie in the world clearly represents a good return of every dollar invested in him. He is still playing actively to this day and, although his reflexes aren’t what they once were, he is still a vital part of his team.
7. Hernan Crespo: Parma To Lazio (48.500.000 £ / 55.000.000 € / $68,750,000)
Hernan Crespo is one of the best-known names in Italian football, having played, scored, and impressed for a total of five teams in the Apennines. His star first shined with Parma, where his netted 62 goals in 116 appearances. His performance caught the eye of Lazio, who bought him in 2000 for a then record-breaking fee of 55 million euros. The Argentinian made an immediate impact, becoming Serie A’s top scorer in his first season. Despite numerous injuries, he still maintained a good goal-per-game ratio, and has since become a football nomad, being cherished and respected by fans everywhere he has played. Currently out of contract, this poacher’s adventure appears to be nearing its end.
6. Fernando Torres: Liverpool To Chelsea (51.500.000 £ / 58.500.000 € / $73,125,000)
When thinking about transfer flops, there is no way that the name Fernando Torres wouldn’t come in mind. When healthy, he was one of the deadliest strikers around, netting 65 goals in just 102 games for Liverpool, earning him an almost God-like stature with Merseyside fans. His ambition has bigger than that of his club though, and he opted to move to Chelsea for the record-breaking fee of 51.5 million pounds. He was finally challenging for titles, having won the FA Cup and Champions League in the 2011/2012 season. However, having scored just 9 goals in 49 appearances, the Spaniard is far away from the performances which ensured the amount of money that was paid for him. Regardless, Chelsea fans are still hopeful that he will return to the form that made him a Liverpool icon.
5. Luis Figo: Barcelona To Real Madrid (51.500.000 £ / 58.500.000 € / $75,000,000)
Luis Figo is one of the most legendary Portuguese players ever, and holds the record for most appearances with the Portugal National Football Team. Bought by Barcelona in 1995 for just about 3 million euros, his career blossomed under coach Johan Cruyff, and his five-year stay with the Catalan club cemented him as one of the best wingers in the game.
In one of the most controversial transfers in football history, due to the severe rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrind, Figo moved to the Spanish capital for a reported fee of 58.5 million euros, a record at the time, which earned him the hatred of Barcelona fans, one of whom ended up throwing a pig’s head at him during one of the El Classicos. The Portuguese continued astounding with his performances before eventually retiring with Inter Milan in 2009.
4. Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite: Milan To Real Madrid (57.000.000 £ / 65.000.000 € / $81,250,000)
The man known as “Kaka” is another footballer who has been disappointing the club that paid great money to acquire his services. Having won one Seria A title, a Champions League, two European Super cups, one Italian Super Cup, a World Club Cup Championship, and even a Ballon d’Or for best player in the 2006/2007 season, the Brasilian was considered a living legend, as far as Milan fans were concerned. Economic troubles forced the club to seek a buyer for one of their most priced assets. Newly-rich Manchester City offered 100 million pounds in the winter of 2009, but the transfer didn’t go through because of fan protests, and the reluctance of Kaka to be sold.
In the summer, another club with immense stature, Real Madrid, came knocking with a much lower offer. However, neither club nor player hesitated before accepting. Due to injuries and inconsistency in form, Kaka was unable to earn a regular starting place, and is very likely to leave the Spanish club in the near future, with Milan being the main contenders for his signature.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter To Barcelona (61.000.000 £ / 69.500.000 € / $86,875,000)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the highest-paid footballer of all-time. The total money spent on the Swede, over the course of his career, now totals 171.1 million euros. The biggest move involving the towering striker was in 2009, when Barcelona paid 45 million euros to have the Swede on their team . He started his adventure in Spain with a bang, with seven goals in seven league matches. Yet, despite a very respectable return of 16 goals in 29 matches, Ibrahimovic was sold to Milan the following season, due to problems with head coach Pep Guardiola. Despite his arrogant nature, or perhaps because of it, the captain of the Swedish National Team has continued to impress for every team on which he has played.
2. Zinedine Zidane: Juventus To Real Madrid (64.500.000 £ / 73.500.000 € / $91,875,000)
Rightfully so, many specialists regard the French playmaker as one of the all-time greatest footballers. His incredible vision on the pitch bemused fans for almost 20 years, prior to his retirement in 2006. Having won almost everything that can be won in his illustrious carrier, Zidane caught the eye of Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid in 2001, when they paid a then-world record 73.5 million euros to have him, helping the team win a Champions League, and the La Liga title, during his five-year spell. His most memorable match, though, is probably his last one: the 2006 World Cup Final, in which he famously headbutted Marco Materazzi.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United To Real Madrid (82.500.000 £ / 94.000.000 € /$117,500,000)
Real Madrid aren’t shy about spending money to obtain the services of a player they want. The “will he or won’t he” Cristiano Ronaldo saga lasted more than two years and, at the end of it, the Spaniards paid a whooping 94 million euros to Manchester United in the summer of 2009. It’s safe to say that he has been worth every penny thus far. The Portuguese player has been an absolute beast, scoring an amazing 112 goals in 103 matches, and the sales of t-shirts containing his name have probably surpassed the fee that was paid for him. His constant goal-scoring rivalry with Lionel Messi has kept football fans on their seats and, after winning the league last season, Ronaldo would be aiming to triumph in the Champions League, and cement his place as one the best footballers that the world has ever seen.