Most Expensive Soccer Players

The 10 costliest players in history

Gareth Bale's €100 million move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 made him the most expensive player in soccer. The Spanish giants, with their galacticos policy, dominate much of this top 10.

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Gareth Bale (€100 million) - Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 12: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring Real's 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Almeria at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on April 12, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
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The eyes of the world were on the Welshman when he was presented as the most expensive soccer player in history on September 2, 2013. Having wowed fans at White Hart Lane, Bale outgrew Tottenham and was relieved to have secured his ‘dream move’ after weeks of protracted negotiations between the two clubs. There were reports that Cristiano Ronaldo’s nose had been put out of joint with the news that he was no longer the most expensive player in soccer.

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Cristiano Ronaldo (€94 million) - Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009

RC Deportivo La Coruna v Real Madrid CF - La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo. Juan Manuel Serrano Arce Getty

The Portuguese step-over king had been wanting to leave Manchester United for some time and the Old Trafford club finally accepted this massive bid from Real Madrid in 2009. Fifa World Player of the Year in 2008, Ronaldo's vast repertoire of tricks and ability to score goals from a variety of different positions were crucial factors in Real's decision to shell out. His iconic status was also a major pull.

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Zinedine Zidane (€75 million) - Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001

Match Against Poverty - HSV Allstars v Ronaldo, Zidane & Friends
Zinedine Zidane. Getty Images

Juventus built their team around the mercurial French playmaker, and he won back-to-back scudetto titles in his first two seasons at the club. His sustained brilliance persuaded Real Madrid to beat their own world record outlay (for Luis Figo in 2000), and Zidane paid them back with the winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€69 million) - Inter Milan to Barcelona in 2009

International Champions Cup 2015 - Paris Saint-Germain v ACF Fiorentina
Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Getty Images

In hindsight, Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola made a mistake signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic for such an astronomical fee and sending Samuel Eto’o the other way to Inter Milan. The Swede started brightly but ultimately flopped at Camp Nou amid accusations of laziness which were given added credence by goalkeeper Victor Valdes actually running further in one match (ironically against Inter) than the big striker. Now at Paris Saint-Germain.

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Kaka (€68 million) - AC Milan to Real Madrid in 2009

Botafogo v Sao Paulo - Brasileirao Series A 2014
Kaka. Alexandre Schneider Getty Images

AC Milan supporters protested outside the club's headquarters over the possible sale of Kaka to Manchester City in January 2009. That transfer ultimately stalled because the Brazilian did not want to move to Eastlands but the Milan tifosi could do nothing to stop the playmaker joining the Merengues in the summer of 2009 as Florentino Perez's galacticos policy got into full swing. After four largely indifferent years at the Bernabeu, Kaka returned to Milan on a free transfer in 2013, with Real keen to get him off their wage bill.

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Edinson Cavani (€64 million) - Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013

Uruguay v Costa Rica: Group D - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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After three prolific years at Napoli, Edinson Cavani decided it was time to move on, despite president Aurelio De Laurentiis' determination to keep him. Despite the sadness at the prolific Uruguayan striker leaving, Napoli can certainly consider it good business, having paid Palermo €17 million for the player in 2010. Deadly in the box and a guaranteed source of goals.

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Luís Figo (€62 million) - Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000

Zanetti And Friends Match For Expo 2015
Luis Figo. Getty Images

If ever there was $55.6 million well spent, it was on Figo. The Portuguese wizard wowed the masses at the Bernabeu for five years, his trickery and crossing ability from the wing embodying Real's policy of signing entertainers with end product. World Player of the Year in 2001, what he lacked in pace, Figo made up for in skill. This was one of the most controversial transfers in history as he left Barcelona for the club's hated rivals. When he returned for a league match at Camp Nou in 2002, angry supporters aimed missiles at him, including a pig's head.

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Radamel Falcao (€60 million) - Atletico Madrid to Monaco in 2013

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Radamel Falcao. Getty Images

A few weeks before Cavani’s move to PSG, another prolific South American striker made the move to Ligue 1 as free-spending Monaco lured Falcao from Atletico Madrid. The Colombian had only been with Atletico for a couple of seasons after replacing Sergio Aguero but the transfer fee and salary proved too much for club and player to resist.

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Fernando Torres (€58 million) - Liverpool to Chelsea in 2011

Club Atletico de Madrid Present New Signing Fernando Torres
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The Spaniard had looked disillusioned with life at Anfield for some time, despite previous declarations that he loved the club. Torres had not won a trophy with Liverpool and was clearly dubious about the club’s chances of challenging the game’s superpowers. It was Torres' ambition that made him leave Anfield, as Chelsea hoped they had signed a player entering the peak years of his career.

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Neymar (€57 million) - Santos to Barcelona in 2013

FC Barcelona v Malaga CF - La Liga
Neymar. Getty Images

After Bale had completed his move to Real Madrid, one Catalan newspaper boasted that the Brazilian had joined Barcelona for half the price just a couple of months earlier. Neymar had long been courted by Barcelona, and there was an agreement in place between the two parties long before he completed the move. The face of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup campaign opted to leave the country a year before the tournament began, much to the disappointment of those back home.