The transfer market is now a multi-billion industry that inspires clubs to part with huge sums of cash in exchange for the best players.
Sometimes, clubs are so determined to land a world-class star that they offer an exceptionally ludicrous amount to secure his signature.
Thanks to the database available at transfermarkt.com, we have been able to put together the team of most expensive players the world has ever seen.
This team cost over €580 million to assemble and the manager, Andres Villas-Boas also cost €15 million.
Goalkeeper | Gianluigi Buffon | €54.2 million | Parma to Juventus
At 35-years-old, the Italy and Juventus legend is still among every football fan’s list of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The colossal fee Juventus paid to Parma is arguably justified by the long-term brilliance the incredible shot-stopper has produced.
Right-back | Dani Alves | €35.5 million | Sevilla to Barcelona
A modern day Roberto Carlos, Dani Alves is the most expensive fullback of all-time. The energetic Brazilian offers an attacking threat like no other defender in the world, similar to his legendary compatriot in his playing days.
The attacking mind-set of the 29-year-old is perfectly suited to a Barcelona side that has mastered the art of possession, and his lack of defensive discipline is rarely exposed due to the sheer command his team has over the game.
Centre-back | Rio Ferdinand | €46 million | Leeds United to Manchester United
Once regarded as the greatest central defender in the world, the ageing Ferdinand is still the most expensive player of all time in his position.
Previously revered as the definition of the elegant yet imposing modern centre-back, the 34-year-old was always a crucial element in Manchester United’s success since his arrival.
Centre-back | Thiago Silva | €42 million | AC Milan to Paris Saint Germain
Partnering the former England captain is arguably the best centre-back in world football today. The Brazilian possesses all the most important qualities of a complete defender – he is quick, strong, intelligent and dominant in the air and on the floor.
In addition to his formidable defensive prowess, the 28-year-old is also a reliable distributor of the ball. Long or short, Thiago Silva can pick a pass like few other defenders in the modern game.
Left-back | Fabio Coentrao | €30 million | Benfica to Real Madrid
These ex-winger attacking fullbacks are certainly highly valued in the modern game, aren’t they? Judging by his defensive fragility, it is no surprise that Fabio Coentrao played in a more advanced wide role as a youngster.
The former Benfica starlet has certainly improved the defensive side of his game since arriving in Madrid, but this all-star XI will certainly leave gaps in defence with Dani Alves on the opposite wing.
Centre-midfield | Kaká | €65 million | AC Milan to Real Madrid
There is no doubt we have not seen Kaká anywhere near his unstoppable best since moving to the Bernabeu. Football fans worldwide - not just Madrid supporters - will be disappointed that he has only produced glimpses of the terrifying force we witnessed in his Milan days.
It is an upsetting thought to imagine the Brazilian will continue to disappoint until he hangs up his boots – but hopefully he can secure a move abroad where he can rediscover something close to top form.
Centre-midfield | Zinedine Zidane | €73.5 million | Juventus to Real Madrid
Not even his Brazilian central midfield partner can match the exquisite touch and elegance of the legendary ‘Zizou’. One of the most incredible players to grace the game, the Frenchman was a privilege and a pleasure to watch.
His effortless control, superb vision and unpredictable creativity is second to none and rightly validates his title as the second most expensive player of all-time.
Right-midfield | Luis Figo €60 million | Barcelona to Real Madrid
Possibly the most controversial transfer in the history of football, there is little wonder why Real Madrid were so eager to sign the magical Portuguese player. He was one of the most technically gifted players of his generation and probably also handy in the dressing room considering his fluency in five different languages.
To condense the brilliance of the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year, his opposite winger Cristiano Ronaldo admits that Luis Figo was his idol as a young footballer.
Left-midfield | Cristiano Ronaldo | €94 million | Manchester United to Real Madrid
Ronaldo joined Manchester United as their first Portuguese player and left as the most expensive export in the history of world football. His impeccable final three seasons bumped up his market value to unheard of heights, and the 28-year-old finally switched to Madrid for a record fee.
Were it not for that marvellous albeit pesky Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo would unquestionably be the undisputed best player in the world today. But irrespective of the Argentinian, the former Lisbon youth star is arguably the most complete attacking footballer the game has ever seen.
Striker | Zlatan Ibrahimovic | €69.5 million | Inter Milan to Barcelona
Somewhat of a journeyman in football terms, the giant Swede has played for six of the biggest clubs in European football. Following his most recent move to Paris Saint Germain, ‘Ibra’ has now overtaken Nicolas Anelka as the most expensive player of all-time in terms of collective transfer fees.
For a 6’5” man, the PSG hit man has unexpectedly near-flawless ball control in addition to a huge repertoire of tricks. Ibrahimovic has been stunning for his new side this term, and he appears to have left behind his occasionally moody performances in Italy.
Striker | Fernando Torres | €58.5 million | Liverpool to Chelsea
After enjoying another promising stint in front of goal recently, the Spaniard is once again showing signs of returning to something like his old self. Signed by the Blues as arguably the best striker on the planet at the time, poor old Torres has endured a horrific Chelsea career overall to date and has arguably taken more stick than his form deserves.
When he is confident, he does not look like the virtually unplayable Liverpool striker Chelsea paid big for, but he certainly looks dangerous and capable of scoring goals.
I believe that were it not for the contentious nature of his switch from the Reds, ‘El Niño’ may have received the same sympathy as Kaká does at Madrid for failing to live up to his enormous price tag.
Manager | André Villas-Boas | €15 million | Porto to Chelsea
We will never know if AVB could have found the winning formula with Chelsea, because Abramovich chose to pull the trigger on the most expensive manager buy-out ever without even giving him a full season.
I for one am relieved that the Portuguese tactician has gone on to enjoy deserved success with Tottenham, and would not be surprised to see him winning silverware across Europe for many coming decades.
What are your thoughts on the most expensive transfer XI of all-time? Does it have any weaknesses? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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