List of most expensive association football transfers

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Neymar, who completed the most expensive transfer ever

The following is a list of most expensive association football transfers, which details the highest transfer fees ever paid for players, as well as transfers which set new world transfer records. The first recorded record transfer was of Willie Groves from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa for £100 in 1893[1] (equivalent to £11,000 in 2019). This occurred just eight years after the introduction of professionalism by the Football Association in 1885.[2] The current transfer record was set by the transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million (£190 million) in August 2017.[3][4]

Highest transfer payments in association football[edit]

Most of the transfers on this list are to clubs under UEFA's jurisdiction, and most of the purchasing clubs are from England, France, Italy and Spain. Manchester City of England and Real Madrid of Spain appear on this list eight times each, the most of any club.

Romelu Lukaku appears on this list three times for moves to Manchester United, Internazionale and Chelsea. Two players appear on the list twice: Ángel Di María and Cristiano Ronaldo. All of the players on the list are of European (UEFA), South American (CONMEBOL), North America (CONCACAF) and African (CAF) origin. Following the transfer of American Christian Pulisic of the CONCACAF confederation in 2019, there are currently no players on the list from the remaining regions; Asia (AFC) and Oceania (OFC).

As of 12 August 2021

  Fee broke the world football transfer record at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for a teenager at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the national league record at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for a South American player at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for an African player at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for a North American player at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for a goalkeeper at the time of the transfer
  Fee broke the record for a defender at the time of the transfer
Top 50 most expensive association football transfers
Rank Player From To Position Fee
(€ mln)
Fee
(£ mln)
Year Reference
1 Brazil Neymar Spain Barcelona France Paris Saint-Germain Forward €222[a] £198 2017 [3][4]
2 France Kylian Mbappé France Monaco France Paris Saint-Germain Forward €180 £163 2018[b] [5]
3 Brazil Philippe Coutinho England Liverpool Spain Barcelona Midfielder €145 £105[c] 2018 [6]
4 Portugal João Félix Portugal Benfica Spain Atlético Madrid Forward €126 £104.1 2019 [7]
5 France Antoine Griezmann Spain Atlético Madrid Spain Barcelona Forward €120[a] £107 2019 [8]
6 England Jack Grealish England Aston Villa England Manchester City Forward €117 £100 2021 [9]
7 Belgium Romelu Lukaku Italy Inter Milan England Chelsea Forward €115 £97.5 2021 [10]
8 France Ousmane Dembélé Germany Borussia Dortmund Spain Barcelona Forward €105[d] £97 2017 [11]
France Paul Pogba Italy Juventus England Manchester United Midfielder €105[e] £89 2016 [12][13]
10 Belgium Eden Hazard England Chelsea Spain Real Madrid Forward €100 £89[f] 2019 [14]
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo Spain Real Madrid Italy Juventus Forward €100 £88 2018 [15]
Wales Gareth Bale England Tottenham Hotspur Spain Real Madrid Forward €100 £86 2013 [16]
13 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo England Manchester United Spain Real Madrid Forward €94 £80 2009 [17][18]
14 Argentina Gonzalo Higuaín Italy Napoli Italy Juventus Forward €90 £75.3 2016 [19]
15 England Harry Maguire England Leicester City England Manchester United Defender €87 £80 2019 [20]
16 Belgium Romelu Lukaku England Everton England Manchester United Forward €85 £75[g] 2017 [21]
17 England Jadon Sancho Germany Borussia Dortmund England Manchester United Midfielder €85 £73[h] 2021 [22]
18 Netherlands Virgil van Dijk England Southampton England Liverpool Defender €84.5 £75 2018 [23]
19 Uruguay Luis Suárez England Liverpool Spain Barcelona Forward €82.3 £65 2014 [24]
20 Belgium Romelu Lukaku England Manchester United Italy Inter Milan Forward €80 £74 2019 [25]
Ivory Coast Nicolas Pépé France Lille England Arsenal Midfielder €80 £72 2019 [26]
Spain Kepa Arrizabalaga Spain Athletic Bilbao England Chelsea Goalkeeper €80[a] £71.6 2018 [27][28]
France Lucas Hernandez Spain Atlético Madrid Germany Bayern Munich Defender €80[a] £68 2019 [29]
24 Germany Kai Havertz Germany Bayer Leverkusen England Chelsea Midfielder €77 £70 2020 [30]
25 France Zinedine Zidane Italy Juventus Spain Real Madrid Midfielder €76[i] £46.6 2001 [32][33][34]
26 Argentina Ángel Di María Spain Real Madrid England Manchester United Forward €75.6 £59.7 2014 [35]
27 Netherlands Matthijs de Ligt Netherlands Ajax Italy Juventus Defender €75[j] £67.5 2019 [36]
Netherlands Frenkie de Jong Netherlands Ajax Spain Barcelona Midfielder €75[k] £65 2019 [37]
Colombia James Rodríguez France Monaco Spain Real Madrid Midfielder €75 £63 2014 [38]
Belgium Kevin De Bruyne Germany VfL Wolfsburg England Manchester City Midfielder €75 £55 2015 [39]
31 Brazil Arthur Spain Barcelona Italy Juventus Midfielder €72[l] £66 2020 [40]
32 Nigeria Victor Osimhen France Lille Italy Napoli Forward €70 £65 2020 [41]
Spain Rodri Spain Atlético Madrid England Manchester City Midfielder €70[a] £63 2019 [42]
France Thomas Lemar France Monaco Spain Atlético Madrid Midfielder €70 £63 2018 [43]
35 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović Italy Inter Milan Spain Barcelona Forward €69.5[m] £56 2009 [44][45]
36 Portugal Rúben Dias Portugal Benfica England Manchester City Defender €68 £61.64 2020 [46]
37 Algeria Riyad Mahrez England Leicester City England Manchester City Forward €67.8 £60 2018 [47]
38 Brazil Kaká Italy Milan Spain Real Madrid Midfielder €67[n] £56 2009 [48][49][50]
39 Spain Álvaro Morata Spain Real Madrid England Chelsea Forward €65.5 £58[o] 2017 [51]
40 France Aymeric Laporte Spain Athletic Bilbao England Manchester City Defender €65.2[a] £57 2018 [52]
41 Portugal João Cancelo Italy Juventus England Manchester City Defender €65 £60[p] 2019 [53]
42 Uruguay Edinson Cavani Italy Napoli France Paris Saint-Germain Forward €64.5 £55 2013 [54]
43 United States Christian Pulisic Germany Borussia Dortmund England Chelsea Forward €64 £58 2019 [55]
Argentina Ángel Di María England Manchester United France Paris Saint-Germain Forward €64 £44 2015 [56]
45 Gabon Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Germany Borussia Dortmund England Arsenal Forward €63.7 £56.1 2018 [57]
46 Brazil Alisson Italy Roma England Liverpool Goalkeeper €62.5 £56[q] 2018 [58]
England Raheem Sterling England Liverpool England Manchester City Forward €62.5 £44[r] 2015 [59]
48 Portugal Luís Figo Spain Barcelona Spain Real Madrid Midfielder €62[a] £37 2000 [60][61]
49 Brazil Oscar England Chelsea China Shanghai SIPG Midfielder €61 £52 2017 [62]
50 Bosnia and Herzegovina Miralem Pjanić Italy Juventus Spain Barcelona Midfielder €60[s] £54.8 2020 [40]
Serbia Luka Jović Germany Eintracht Frankfurt Spain Real Madrid Forward €60 £52.4 2019 [63]
France Tanguy Ndombele France Lyon England Tottenham Hotspur Midfielder €60[t] £53.8 2019 [64]
Guinea Naby Keïta Germany RB Leipzig England Liverpool Midfielder €60 £52.75 2018 [65]
Morocco Achraf Hakimi Italy Inter Milan France Paris Saint-Germain Defender €60[u] £51.3 2021 [66]
Colombia Radamel Falcao Spain Atlético Madrid France Monaco Forward €60 £51 2013 [67]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g This transfer was carried out by the purchasing club paying the player's buyout clause, against the will of the origin club.
  2. ^ On loan since 2017, permanent move in July 2018
  3. ^ Initial £105 million plus reported £37 million bonuses
  4. ^ Initial €105 million plus reported €40 million bonuses
  5. ^ Fee was to be paid over time with an initial €105 million, plus another €5 million in additional bonuses; Pogba's agent Mino Raiola also received a reported €27 million from Juventus, from a portion of aforementioned transfer fee from Manchester United.
  6. ^ Initial £89 million plus reported £60 million bonuses
  7. ^ Fee was to be paid over time with an initial £75 million, plus another £15 million in additional bonuses.
  8. ^ The deal includes £5m in add-ons.
  9. ^ fee originally in 150 billion lire; the fixed exchange rate between euro and lire was 1:1936.27. The fee was paid in 4 annual instalments; on accounting purpose, the fee was listed as approximately €75m[31]
  10. ^ Initial €75 million, payable in 5 financial years, plus additional €10,5 million broker fee
  11. ^ Initial €75 million plus reported €11 million bonuses
  12. ^ Initial €72 million plus reported €10 million bonuses
  13. ^ Barcelona paid €49.5 million, and exchanged Samuel Eto'o valued at €20 million.
  14. ^ The fee broke the world record in pound sterling, but not in euro (Zinedine Zidane was the most expensive in euro at that time); as the fee was paid in installments, the accountant that prepared the financial report adjusted the value to €66.073 million as the present value to reflect the loss in interest
  15. ^ Fee was to be paid over time with an initial £58 million, plus another £12 million in additional bonuses.
  16. ^ Cancelo's transfer equates to €65 million as part-exchange deal, where Danilo would be sent to Juventus.
  17. ^ Initial fee of £56 million with reported performance related bonuses of £9 million.
  18. ^ Fee was to be paid over time with an initial £44 million, plus another £5 million in additional bonuses.
  19. ^ Initial €60 million plus reported €5 million bonuses
  20. ^ Initial €60 million plus reported €10 million bonuses
  21. ^ Initial €60 million plus reported €11 million objective bonuses

World football transfer record[edit]

The first player to ever be transferred for a fee of over £100 was Scottish striker Willie Groves when he together with Jack Reynolds (£50) made the switch from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa in 1893,[2] eight years after the legalisation of professionalism in the sport. It took just another twelve years for the figure to become £1000, when Sunderland striker Alf Common moved to Middlesbrough.[68][69]

It was not until 1928 that the first five-figure transfer took place. David Jack of Bolton Wanderers was the subject of interest from Arsenal, and in order to negotiate the fee down, Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman got the Bolton representatives drunk.[70][71] Subsequently, David Jack was transferred for a world record fee when Arsenal paid £10,890 to Bolton for his services, after Bolton had asked for £13,000, which was double the previous record made when Sunderland signed Burnley's Bob Kelly a fee of for £6,500.[69]

Diego Maradona and Ronaldo were twice transferred for world record fees.[72]

The first player from outside Great Britain to break the record was Bernabé Ferreyra, a player known as La Fiera for his powerful shot. His 1932 transfer from Tigre to River Plate cost £23k,[71] and the record would last for 17 years (the longest the record has lasted) until it was broken by Manchester United's sale of Johnny Morris to Derby County for £24k in March 1949. The record was broken seven further times between 1949 and 1961, when Luis Suárez Miramontes was sold by FC Barcelona to Inter Milan for £152k, becoming the first ever player sold for more than £100k.[69]

In 1968, Pietro Anastasi became the first £500k player when Juventus purchased him from Varese,[71] which was followed seven years later with Giuseppe Savoldi becoming the first million pound player when he transferred from Bologna to Napoli.[69][71]

After Alf Common and David Jack, the third player to twice be transferred for world record fees is Diego Maradona.[69][71] His transfers from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for £3m, and then to Napoli for £5m, both broke the record in 1982 and 1984 respectively. The most recent is Ronaldo with his record-breaking move from PSV Eindhoven to Barcelona in 1996 for £13.2m, although Alan Shearer's transfer to Newcastle broke the record the same summer. A year later Inter Milan paid £19.5m for Ronaldo and again he became the player with the highest transfer fee.

In the space of 61 days in 1992,[71] three transfers broke the record,[69] all by Italian clubs: Jean-Pierre Papin transferred from Marseille to A.C. Milan, becoming the first ever £10m player.[71] Almost immediately, rivals Juventus topped that with the signing of Gianluca Vialli for a fee of £12m from Sampdoria. Milan then completed the signing of Gianluigi Lentini for a fee of £13m which stood as the record for three years.

The 1996 transfer of Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United, for a fee of £15m,[73] kickstarted a year-by-year succession of record breaking transfers: Ronaldo moved the following year to Inter Milan from FC Barcelona for a fee of £17m,[74] which was followed in 1998 by the shock transfer of his fellow countryman Denílson from São Paulo to Real Betis for a fee of approximately £21m.[69][71][75]

In 1999 and 2000, Italian clubs returned to their record-breaking ways, with Christian Vieri transferring from Lazio to Inter Milan for £28m,[76] while Hernán Crespo's transfer from Parma to Lazio ensured he became the first player to cost more than £30m.[69][77] The transfer prompted the BBC to ask "has the world gone mad"?[78] It took two weeks for the record to be broken when Luís Figo made a controversial £37m move from Barcelona to rivals Real Madrid.[69][79] A year later, Real increased the record again with a signing of Zinedine Zidane for £48 million (150 billion lire).[80]

Zidane's record stood for 8 years, the longest since the 1940s. Real Madrid continued with the Galácticos policy by buying Kaká from Milan for €67 million (£56 million),[81] which was the world record in pound sterling. However, both world record in euro and in pound sterling were broke by Real themselves when signing Cristiano Ronaldo for £80m (€94m) from Manchester United in the same transfer window,[69][82] 4 years later Real Madrid broke the record again after completed the signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. Although Real initially insisted that the transfer cost €91.59 million, slightly less than the Ronaldo fee, the deal was widely reported to be around €100 million (around £85.1 million).[83][84] Documents leaked in 2016 by Football Leaks revealed that instalments brought the final Bale fee up to a total of €100,759,418.[69][85] In 2016, Manchester United eventually took the record away from Real Madrid, signing French midfielder Paul Pogba for €105 million (£89 million),[86] four years after having released him to Juventus for training compensation.

A year after the Pogba transfer, however, there was a major jump in the record fee. Paris St. Germain matched the €222 million buyout fee of Barcelona's Neymar, converted to a reported £198 million by different sources,[4] or £200 million[3] more than double the previous record. This was the first time that the record fee was paid by a French club.

Historical progression[edit]

Year Player Selling club Buying club Fee (£)
1893 Scotland Willie Groves England West Bromwich Albion England Aston Villa 100[2]
1903 England Ben Green England Barnsley England Small Heath 500[87]
1904 England Alf Common (1) England Sheffield United England Sunderland 520[88]
1904 Scotland Andy McCombie England Sunderland England Newcastle United 700[89]
1905 England Alf Common (2) England Sunderland England Middlesbrough 1,000[90]
1913 England Daniel Shea England West Ham United England Blackburn Rovers 2,000[91]
1913 England Tommy Barber England Bolton Wanderers England Aston Villa 2,000[92]
1914 England Percy Dawson Scotland Heart of Midlothian England Blackburn Rovers 2,500[93]
1920 England David Jack (1) England Plymouth Argyle England Bolton Wanderers 3,500[94]
1921 Scotland Tom Hamilton Scotland Kilmarnock England Preston North End 4,600[95]
1922 England Syd Puddefoot England West Ham United Scotland Falkirk 5,000[96]
1922 England Warney Cresswell England South Shields England Sunderland 5,500[97]
1925 England Bob Kelly England Burnley England Sunderland 6,500[98]
1928 England David Jack (2) England Bolton Wanderers England Arsenal 10,890[99]
1932 Argentina Bernabé Ferreyra Argentina Tigre Argentina River Plate 23,000[99]
1949 England Johnny Morris England Manchester United England Derby County 24,000[98]
1949 England Eddie Quigley England Sheffield Wednesday England Preston North End 26,500[98]
1950 Wales Trevor Ford England Aston Villa England Sunderland 30,000[98]
1951 England Jackie Sewell England Notts County England Sheffield Wednesday 34,500[98]
1952 Sweden Hans Jeppson Italy Atalanta Italy Napoli 52,000[99]
1954 Uruguay Juan Schiaffino Uruguay Peñarol Italy Milan 72,000[99]
1957 Argentina Omar Sivori Argentina River Plate Italy Juventus 93,000[99]
1961 Spain Luis Suárez Spain Barcelona Italy Inter Milan 152,000[99]
1963 Italy Angelo Sormani Italy Mantova Italy Roma 250,000[99]
1967 Denmark Harald Nielsen Italy Bologna Italy Inter Milan 300,000[100]
1968 Italy Pietro Anastasi Italy Varese Italy Juventus 500,000[99]
1973 Netherlands Johan Cruyff Netherlands Ajax Spain Barcelona 922,000[99]
1975 Italy Giuseppe Savoldi Italy Bologna Italy Napoli 1,200,000[99]
1976 Italy Paolo Rossi Italy Vicenza Italy Juventus 1,750,000[99]
1982 Argentina Diego Maradona (1) Argentina Boca Juniors Spain Barcelona 3,000,000[99]
1984 Argentina Diego Maradona (2) Spain Barcelona Italy Napoli 5,000,000[99]
1987 Netherlands Ruud Gullit Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Italy Milan 6,000,000[99]
1990 Italy Roberto Baggio Italy Fiorentina Italy Juventus 8,000,000[99]
1992 France Jean-Pierre Papin France Marseille Italy Milan 10,000,000[99]
1992 Italy Gianluca Vialli Italy Sampdoria Italy Juventus 12,000,000[99]
1992 Italy Gianluigi Lentini Italy Torino Italy Milan 13,000,000[99]
1996 Brazil Ronaldo (1) Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Spain Barcelona 13,200,000[99]
1996 England Alan Shearer England Blackburn Rovers England Newcastle United 15,000,000[101]
1997 Brazil Ronaldo (2) Spain Barcelona Italy Inter Milan 19,500,000[99]
1998 Brazil Denílson Brazil São Paulo Spain Real Betis 21,500,000[102][103]
1999 Italy Christian Vieri Italy Lazio Italy Inter Milan 32,000,000[104]
2000 Argentina Hernán Crespo Italy Parma Italy Lazio 35,500,000[104]
2000 Portugal Luís Figo Spain Barcelona Spain Real Madrid 37,000,000[104]
2001 France Zinedine Zidane Italy Juventus Spain Real Madrid 46,600,000[104][34]
2009 Brazil Kaká Italy Milan Spain Real Madrid 56,000,000[105]
2009 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo England Manchester United Spain Real Madrid 80,000,000[106]
2013 Wales Gareth Bale England Tottenham Hotspur Spain Real Madrid 86,000,000[107]
2016 France Paul Pogba Italy Juventus England Manchester United 89,000,000[108]
2017 Brazil Neymar Spain Barcelona France Paris Saint-Germain 198,000,000[3][4]

Number of record players by country[edit]

Country Player records Record selling Record buying
England England 15 19 18
Italy Italy 8 14 18
Argentina Argentina 5 3 1
Brazil Brazil 5 1 0
France France 3 1 1
Scotland Scotland 3 1 1
Netherlands Netherlands 2 3 0
Wales Wales 2 0 0
Portugal Portugal 2 0 0
Spain Spain 1 5 9
Uruguay Uruguay 1 1 0
Denmark Denmark 1 0 0
Sweden Sweden 1 0 0

Cumulative transfers[edit]

[109][110]

Player Transfers Fees
(£ mln)
Belgium Romelu Lukaku 5 £293.5
Brazil Neymar 2 £246.6
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 3 £204.2
France Kylian Mbappé 1 £165.7
Belgium Eden Hazard 2 £162
Spain Álvaro Morata 4 £156.8
Brazil Philippe Coutinho 3 £150.5
France Ousmane Dembélé 2 £148.5
France Antoine Griezmann 2 £131
Argentina Ángel Di María 4 £129.5

Managers[edit]

For football managers, the list is as follows:

Julian Nagelsmann was purchased by Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig for a world record-breaking fee in 2021.
Brendan Rodgers was purchased by Leicester City from Celtic for a British club record fee for a manager in 2019.
José Mourinho is the most expensive manager purchased by a Spanish team, moving to Real Madrid in 2010 from Inter Milan.
Rank Manager From To Transfer fee
(£ million)
Transfer fee
( million)
Year
1 Germany Julian Nagelsmann[111] Germany RB Leipzig Germany Bayern Munich £21.7 €25 2021
2 Portugal André Villas-Boas[112][113] Portugal Porto England Chelsea £13.3 €15 2011
3 Northern Ireland Brendan Rodgers[114] Scotland Celtic England Leicester City £9 €10.44 2019
4 Portugal Rúben Amorim[115] Portugal Braga Portugal Sporting CP £8.65 €10 2020
5 Portugal José Mourinho[116] Italy Inter Milan Spain Real Madrid £6.8 €8 2010
6 Austria Adi Hütter[117] Germany Eintracht Frankfurt Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach £6.5 €7.5 2021
7 Wales Mark Hughes[118] England Blackburn Rovers England Manchester City £5 €6.2 2008
Northern Ireland Brendan Rodgers[119] Wales Swansea City England Liverpool £5 €6.2 2012
Netherlands Ronald Koeman[120] England Southampton England Everton £5 €6 2015
Italy Maurizio Sarri[121] England Chelsea Italy Juventus £5 €5.55 2019
11 Germany Marco Rose[122] Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany Borussia Dortmund £4.36 €5 2021
12 Netherlands Peter Bosz[123] Netherlands Ajax Germany Borussia Dortmund £4.3 €5 2017
Germany Julian Nagelsmann[124] Germany 1899 Hoffenheim Germany RB Leipzig £4.4 €5 2019
14 Portugal Marco Silva[125] England Watford England Everton £4 €4.6 2018
England Frank Lampard[126] England Derby County England Chelsea £4 €4.68 2019
16 England Alan Pardew[127] England Newcastle United England Crystal Palace £3.5 €4.4 2015
17 Chile Manuel Pellegrini[128] Spain Villarreal Spain Real Madrid £3.4 €4 2009
18 Italy Carlo Ancelotti[129] France Paris Saint-Germain Spain Real Madrid £3.3 €3.8 2013
19 France Christophe Galtier[130] France Lille France Nice £3 €3.5 2021
20 England Steve Bruce[131] England Birmingham City England Wigan Athletic £3 €3.4 2007
England Steve Bruce[132] England Wigan Athletic England Sunderland £3 €3.4 2009
22 Switzerland Lucien Favre[133] France Nice Germany Borussia Dortmund £2.6 €3 2018
23 Portugal Leonardo Jardim[134] Portugal Sporting CP France Monaco £2.3 €3 2014
24 England Harry Redknapp[135] England Portsmouth England Tottenham Hotspur £2 €2.5 2008
Spain Roberto Martínez[136] Wales Swansea City England Wigan Athletic £2 €2.5 2009
England Tony Mowbray[137] England West Bromwich Albion Scotland Celtic £2 €2.5 2009
England Roy Hodgson[138] England Fulham England Liverpool £2 €2.5 2010
Scotland Alex McLeish[139] England Birmingham City England Aston Villa £2 €2.2 2011
Spain Roberto Martínez[140] England Wigan Athletic England Everton £2 €2.2 2013
England Gary Rowett[141] England Derby County England Stoke City £2 €2.2 2018
England Graham Potter[142] Wales Swansea City England Brighton & Hove Albion £2 €2.2 2019
32 Croatia Niko Kovač[143] Germany Eintracht Frankfurt Germany Bayern Munich £1.9 €2.2 2018
33 Portugal José Mourinho[144] Portugal Porto England Chelsea £1.7 €2.5 2004
Portugal Paulo Fonseca[145] Ukraine Shakhtar Donetsk Italy Roma £1.7 €2 2019
35 Wales Steve Cooper[146] Wales Swansea City England Nottingham Forest £1.2 €1.39 2021

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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