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  • Writer's pictureSebastian Friedrich

Historical transfer records since 1941

In recent decades, the transfer market in football has reached enormous sums, and since the 1990s, multimillion transfers in international professional football have become the norm.

The first million-euro transfer in football took place in 1973, when the Dutchman Johan Cruyff was transferred from Ajax Amsterdam to FC Barcelona for 2.00 million euros. Since then, transfer fees have steadily increased, particularly in recent years.

In 2017, Brazilian striker Neymar was transferred from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a record sum of 222 million euros, surpassing previous record holder Paul Pogba, who was transferred from Juventus Turin to Manchester United for 105 million euros in 2016.

Cristiano Ronaldo transferred from Manchester United to Real Madrid for 94 million euros in 2009. The high transfer fees have sparked debates about whether this type of transfer in football is justified. Clubs with the strongest financial resources are able to pay the highest transfer fees, which makes it difficult for smaller clubs to participate in the transfer market. It remains to be seen how the transfer market will develop in the future and whether player prices will continue to rise.

  • Anastasio Bienzobas Ocariz, 01.07.1941, CA Osasuna -> La Coruna, 0.06 million

  • Jose Rafael Meza, 01.07.1945, Moctezuma de Orizaba -> CF Atlante, 0.12 million

  • Luis Molowny, 20.06.1946, Marino FC -> Real Madrid, 0.15 million

  • Alfredo Di Stefano, 01.07.1953, River Plate -> Real Madrid, 0.22 million

  • Gianni Rivera, 01.07.1960, US Alessandria -> AC Milan, 0.30 million

  • Howard Kendall, 01.07.1967, Preston North End -> FC Everton, 0.36 million

  • Pietro Anastasi, 01.07.1968, Varese Calcio -> Juventus Turin, 0.58 million

  • Alan Ball, 22.12.1971, FC Everton -> Arsenal London, 0.85 million

  • Johan Cruyff, 01.07.1973, Ajax Amsterdam -> FC Barcelona, 2.00 million

  • Andy Gray, 01.07.1979, Aston Villa -> Wolverhampton Wanderers, 3.00 million

  • Diego Maradona, 01.07.1982, Argentinos Juniors -> FC Barcelona, 7.30 million

  • Diego Maradona, 01.07.1984, FC Barcelona -> Napoli, 12.00 million

  • Roberto Baggio, 01.07.1990, Fiorentina -> Juventus Turin, 12.90 million

  • Gianluca Vialli, 01.07.1992, Sampdoria Genoa -> Juventus Turin, 16.50 million

  • Alan Shearer, 30.07.1996, Blackburn Rovers -> Newcastle Utd., 18.00 million

  • Sonny Anderson, 01.07.1997, AS Monaco -> FC Barcelona, 26.25 million

  • Ronaldo, 22.07.1997, FC Barcelona -> Inter, 26.50 million

  • Denílson, 01.07.1998, FC Sao Paulo -> Betis Sevilla, 31.50 million

  • Christian Vieri, 01.07.1999, Lazio Rome -> Inter, 46.48 million

  • Hernán Crespo, 11.07.2000, AC Parma -> Lazio Rome, 56.81 million

  • Luís Figo, 24.07.2000, FC Barcelona -> Real Madrid, 60.00 million

  • Zinédine Zidane, 09.07.2001, Juventus Turin -> Real Madrid, 77.50 million

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, 06.07.2009, Manchester United -> Real Madrid, 94.00 million

  • Gareth Bale, 01.09.2013, Tottenham -> Real Madrid, 101.00 million

  • Paul Pogba, 09.08.2016, Juventus Turin -> Manchester Utd., 105.00 million

  • Neymar, 03.08.2017, FC Barcelona -> Paris SG, 222.00 million

The list shows that transfer fees have increased exponentially over time. At the beginning of the list, transfer fees were comparatively low, with the first record transfer in this list taking place in 1941 for only 0.06 million euros. Over the years, transfer costs increased, with the first transfer in the double-digit million range not taking place until 1990. Since then, transfer fees have skyrocketed.

Some of the players on the list are among the greatest players of all time, such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, and Cristiano Ronaldo. It is noticeable that the clubs Juventus Turin, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona were often involved in these transfers.

It is interesting to observe that in recent years, not only player transfer fees but also the role of investors in football has increased. For example, in the case of Neymar, Qatar Sports Investments, a subsidiary of the Qatar government's sovereign wealth fund, paid 222 million euros in transfer fees. Investors were also involved in the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus Turin. In this case, it was Exor, the investment holding company of the Agnelli family, that helped finance the transfer.

It can be assumed that investors will continue to play a role in record transfers in football in the future, and transfer fees will continue to rise, presumably mainly in the English Premier League.


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