World football transfer record

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The three most recent record holders
Paul Pogba (2016–)
Gareth Bale (2013–2016)
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009–2013)

The transfer of Willie Groves from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa in 1893 occurred just eight years after the introduction of professionalism by The FA in 1885.[1] The record is currently held by Paul Pogba who, in 2016, rejoined English club Manchester United for £89 million from Italian club Juventus.

Transfer record progression[edit]

For a list of the highest transfer fees of all time, see List of most expensive association football transfers.

The first player to ever be transferred for a fee of over £100 was Scottish striker Willie Groves when he 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 twelve years for the figure to become £1000, when Sunderland striker Alf Common moved to Middlesbrough.[3][4]

It wasn't 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.[5][6] 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.[4]

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,[6] 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.[4]

Diego Maradona and Ronaldo are only players to twice be transferred for world record fees.

In 1968, Pietro Anastasi became the first £500k player when Juventus purchased him from Varese,[6] which was followed seven years later with Giuseppe Savoldi becoming the first million pound player when he transferred from Bologna to Napoli.[4][6]

The first player to twice be transferred for world record fees is Diego Maradona.[4][6] 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 second became 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,[6] three transfers broke the record,[4] all by Italian clubs: Jean-Pierre Papin transferred from Marseille to A.C. Milan, becoming the first ever £10m player.[6] 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,[7] 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,[8] 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.[4][6][9]

In 1999 and 2000, Italian clubs returned to their record-breaking ways, with Christian Vieri transferring from Lazio to Inter Milan for £28m,[10] while Hernán Crespo's transfer from Parma to Lazio ensured he became the first player to cost more than £30m.[4][11] The transfer prompted the BBC to ask "has the world gone mad"?[12]

It took two weeks for the record to be broken when Luís Figo made a controversial £37m move from Barcelona to rivals Real Madrid.[4][13] Real Madrid then held the record until 2016, when Manchester United signed Paul Pogba for £89m. The players that previously broke the record were Zinedine Zidane in 2001 when signed for £46m from Juventus,[4] Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for £80m from Manchester United in 2009,[4] and Gareth Bale in 2013, who became the first player to cost €100m when he transferred from Tottenham Hotspur.

Comparison of fees in different nations is complicated by varying exchange rates. This table uses British Pound Sterling for older and comparison fees and Euro for newer transfers as the unit of currency.

Year Player Selling Club Buying Club Fee (£) Fee (€) Fee (US$, after adjusted inflation as of 30 July 2016)
1893 Scotland Willie Groves England West Bromwich Albion England Aston Villa ~100[2] - ~13,250
1904 Scotland Andy McCombie England Sunderland England Newcastle United 700[14] - 89,700
1905 England Alf Common England Sunderland England Middlesbrough 1,000[15] - 128,000
1913 England Daniel Shea England West Ham United England Blackburn Rovers 2,000[16] - 235,000
1913 England Tommy Barber England Bolton Wanderers England Aston Villa 2,000[17] - 235,000
1914 England Percy Dawson Scotland Heart of Midlothian England Blackburn Rovers 2,500[18] - 286,000
1920 England David Jack England Plymouth Argyle England Bolton Wanderers 3,500[19] - 168,000
1922 England Syd Puddefoot England West Ham United Scotland Falkirk 5,000[20] - 326,000
1922 England Warney Cresswell England South Shields England Sunderland 5,500[21] - ~358,000
1925 England Bob Kelly England Burnley England Sunderland 6,500[22] - 442,000
1928 England David Jack England Bolton Wanderers England Arsenal 10,890[21] - 783,000
1932 Argentina Bernabé Ferreyra Argentina Tigre Argentina River Plate 23,000[21] - 1,906,000
1949 England Johnny Morris England Manchester United England Derby County 24,000[22] - 1,012,000
1949 England Eddie Quigley England Sheffield Wednesday England Preston North End 26,500[22] - 1,117,000
1950 Wales Trevor Ford England Aston Villa England Sunderland 30,000[22] - 1,227,000
1951 England Jackie Sewell England Notts County England Sheffield Wednesday 34,500[22] - 1,293,000
1952 Sweden Hans Jeppson Italy Atalanta Italy Napoli 52,000[21] - 1,786,000
1954 Uruguay Juan Schiaffino Uruguay Peñarol Italy Milan 72,000[21] - 2,353,000
1957 Argentina Enrique Omar Sivori Argentina River Plate Italy Juventus 93,000[21] - 2,676,000
1961 Spain Luis Suárez Spain Barcelona Italy Internazionale 152,000[21] - 4,038,000
1963 Italy Angelo Sormani Italy Mantova Italy Roma 250,000[21] - 6,248,000
1967 Denmark Harald Nielsen Italy Bologna Italy Internazionale 300,000[23] - 6,500,000
1968 Italy Pietro Anastasi Italy Varese Italy Juventus 500,000[21] - 10,350,000
1973 Netherlands Johan Cruyff Netherlands Ajax Spain Barcelona 922,000[21] - 13,300,000
1975 Italy Giuseppe Savoldi Italy Bologna Italy Napoli 1,200,000[21] - 12,000,000
1976 Italy Paolo Rossi Italy Juventus Italy Vicenza 1,750,000[21] - 15,000,000
1982 Argentina Diego Maradona Argentina Boca Juniors Spain Barcelona 3,000,000[21] - 12,650,000
1984 Argentina Diego Maradona Spain Barcelona Italy Napoli 5,000,000[21] - 19,200,000
1987 Netherlands Ruud Gullit Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Italy Milan 6,000,000[21] - 20,150,000
1990 Italy Roberto Baggio Italy Fiorentina Italy Juventus 8,000,000[21] - 21,700,000
1992 France Jean-Pierre Papin France Marseille Italy Milan 10,000,000[21] - 24,700,000
1992 Italy Gianluca Vialli Italy Sampdoria Italy Juventus 12,000,000[21] - 29,650,000
1992 Italy Gianluigi Lentini Italy Torino Italy Milan 13,000,000[21] - 32,100,000
1996 Brazil Ronaldo Netherlands PSV Eindhoven Spain Barcelona 13,200,000[21] - 29,500,000
1996 England Alan Shearer England Blackburn Rovers England Newcastle United 15,000,000[24] - 33,600,000
1997 Brazil Ronaldo Spain Barcelona Italy Internazionale 19,500,000[21] - 42,350,000
1998 Brazil Denílson Brazil São Paulo Spain Real Betis 21,500,000[25][26] - 45,150,000
1999 Italy Christian Vieri Italy Lazio Italy Internazionale 32,100,000[27] 49,000,000 66,400,000
2000 Argentina Hernán Crespo Italy Parma Italy Lazio 35,500,000[27] 55,000,000 71,300,000
2000 Portugal Luís Figo Spain Barcelona Spain Real Madrid 37,000,000[27] 62,000,000 74,330,000
2001 France Zinedine Zidane Italy Juventus Spain Real Madrid 46,600,000 [A][27][28][29] 75,000,000 92,000,000
2009 Brazil Kaká Italy Milan Spain Real Madrid 56,000,000 [B][30][31] 68,000,000 89,650,000
2009 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo England Manchester United Spain Real Madrid 80,000,000 [C][32][33] 94,000,000 128,000,000
2013 Wales Gareth Bale England Tottenham Hotspur Spain Real Madrid 86,000,000 [34] 100,800,000 117,650,000
2016 France Paul Pogba Italy Juventus England Manchester United 89,000,000[35] 105,000,000 115,597,650

Number of records by country[edit]

Country Player records Record selling Record buying
England England 12 16 15
Italy Italy 8 14 18
Argentina Argentina 5 3 1
Brazil Brazil 3 1 0
France France 3 1 0
Scotland Scotland 2 1 1
Netherlands Netherlands 2 3 0
Wales Wales 2 0 0
Portugal Portugal 2 0 0
Spain Spain 1 4 8
Uruguay Uruguay 1 1 0
Denmark Denmark 1 0 0
Sweden Sweden 1 0 0

Number of records by continent[edit]

Continent Player records Record selling Record buying
UEFA 35 39 43

See also[edit]


A. a The Juventus FC web site reported the total fee was exactly 150 billion lira. The Juventus FC financial statement for 2002 describes this as approximately €75m. Using the official base exchange rate for lira to pounds for that time (9 July 2001), this is exactly £46,589,576.90[36] in pounds sterling, reported in Britain variously between £46m and £47m at the time.

B. b For comparisons, this list uses a valuation of the fee converted to British pounds at the time of the transfer. Zidane's fee in 2001 was 150 billion lira, then equivalent to €77.5m. This appears to be 30% larger than Figo's €60m fee. That comparison in Euros is coincidentally valid because the British pound and the Euro didn't mutually vary much in the intervening year. Kaká's transfer fee of €65m was eight years later in 2009. Due to the valuation method used in this list, Zidane's fee in "2001-Euros" cannot be compared numerically with Kaká's fee in "2009-Euros". In this context, they are different units of currency, and must be converted to the valuation currency first. This paradox is inherent to multiple currency comparisons across time, regardless of the currency and conversion time-frame are chosen as the standard for valuation.

C. c Conversion by British journalists; the actual offer was made and concluded at €94m.

D. d The Gareth Bale transfer was for exactly €100m.[37] This was converted from euros to pounds by the British media, where it was widely reported as £85.3m. [38]


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  2. ^ a b "Groves leads the droves to Villa". London: The Independent. 24 January 1998. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Proud, Keith (18 August 2008). "The player with the Common touch". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World record football transfer fees". BBC. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Arsenal honour Thierry Henry, Tony Adams & Herbert Chapman". BBC. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Flanagan, Chris (4 September 2013). "How 13 other world record transfers panned out". Four Four Two. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Turnbull, Simon; Nixon, Alan (30 July 1996). "Shearer goes home for pounds 15m". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ronaldo signs up for Inter". London: The Independent. 21 June 1997. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Longmore, Andrew (7 June 1998). "Denilson The Menacing". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Whyte, Derrick (9 June 1999). "Inter's pounds 28m swap deal for Lazio's Vieri". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Agnew, Paddy (12 July 2000). "Crespo to join Lazio in record £36m transfer". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "When transfers go mad". BBC. 12 July 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Figo's the Real deal". BBC. 24 July 2000. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Jo Bath, Richard F Stevenson. (2013). "The Newcastle Book of Days". p. 31. The History Press
  15. ^ Taylor, Matthew (2005). The Leaguers: The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900-1939. p. 42. 
  16. ^ "A £2,000 Transfer". Derby Daily Telegraph. British Newspaper Archive. 6 January 1913. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Important transfer". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. British Newspaper Archive. 14 March 1913. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (2012). A History of Football in 100 Objects. 
  19. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Landmark £1m fee for Francis was no big deal for Clough
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "The History of the World Transfer Record". BBC News. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Barnes, Stuart (2007). News of the World Football Annual 2007/2008. Invincible Press. ISBN 978-0-00-725555-9. 
  23. ^ "Factbox - Evolution of world record transfer deals since 1893". Reuters. Retrieved 2 May 2014
  24. ^ Hughes, Rob (30 July 1996). "Newcastle United Pays Record $23 Million for Sheare". New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  25. ^ "World Cup winner Denilson on trial at Bolton Wanderers". Daily Mail. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  26. ^ Ash, Russell (2004). Top Ten of Everything 2005. Dorling Kindersley. p. 225. 
  27. ^ a b c d "Real tipped to land Kaka for £56m". BBC. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  28. ^ "Zidane al Real". Juventus FC (in Italian). 9 July 2001. Archived from the original on 6 August 2001. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  29. ^ "Reports and Financial Statement at 30 June 2002" (PDF). Juventus FC. 20 September 2002. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Wilson, Jeremy (7 June 2009). "Real Madrid to confirm world record £56m signing of Kaka". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  31. ^ "Kaká completes Madrid switch". BBC. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  32. ^ "Ronaldo agrees six-year Real deal". BBC. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  33. ^ Wilson, Steve (12 June 2009). "Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: Q&A of £80m deal between Real Madrid and Manchester United". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  34. ^ Other sources:
  35. ^ "United Sign Pogba". Official Manchester United Website. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  36. ^ "Convert ITL to GBP on 9 July 2001". Historic Exchange Rates. "" Paris, France. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  37. ^ "Gareth Bale transfer: Real Madrid confirm signing in reported €100m deal". The Guardian online. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  38. ^ "Bale completes Real Madrid move". BBC. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.