The most expensive XIs ever of Europe’s top five leagues and the Rest of the World

  • Rob Swan

The amounts of cash swishing about in football right now is, we can all agree, ludicrous.

Top-level players are going for obscene amounts of money, while their wages are equally as outrageous.

Ten players have now been sold for €100 million or more, with Neymar setting a new world transfer record in 2017 after completing his €222 million (£200 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona.

It’s hard to see the bubble bursting any time soon, which means transfer fees will continue to go up and up.

It won’t be long before we have the first £250 million player, £300 million player and so on.

Over at Football 365, they’ve put together the most expensive XIs ever from Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues – as well as an XI for the Rest of the World.

But which is the best line-up?

Premier League

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea, £71.6m)
RB: Joao Cancelo (Juventus to Manchester City, £60m)
CB: Harry Maguire (Leicester to Manchester United, £85m)
CB: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, £75m)
LB: Benjamin Mendy (Monaco to Manchester City, £52m)
CM: Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, £89.3m)
CM: Rodri (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City, £62.8m)
RW: Nicolas Pepe (Lille to Arsenal, £72m)
LW: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester to Manchester City, £60m)
CF: Romelu Lukaku (Everton to Manchester United, £75m)
CF: Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid to Chelsea, £58m)

Buying clubs: Manchester City (x4), Manchester United (x3), Chelsea (x2), Arsenal (x1), Liverpool (x1)

Total cost: £760.7 million

This is an XI full of hits and misses.

The two strikers were disappointing at Man Utd and Chelsea – especially Morata at Stamford Bridge – and no longer ply their trade in England.

Pogba remains the most expensive Premier League signing and continues to divide opinion.

That centre-back pairing of Van Dijk and Maguire, though, would take some beating.

La Liga

GK: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea to Real Madrid, £35m)
RB: Nelson Semedo (Benfica to Barcelona, £26m)
CB: Eder Militao (Porto to Real Madrid, £42.7m)
CB: Clement Lenglet (Sevilla to Barcelona, £31.7m)
LB: Ferland Mendy (Lyon to Real Madrid, £47.1m)
CM: James Rodriguez (Monaco to Real Madrid, £63m)
CM: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax to Barcelona, £65m)
RW: Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid, £89m)
AM: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona, £105m)
LW: Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, £96.8m)
CF: Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid, £112.9m)

Buying clubs: Barcelona (x5), Real Madrid (x5), Atletico Madrid (x1)

Total cost: £714.2 million

What’s interesting here is that all of the proper big-money signings have been either midfielders or defenders.

Unlike in the Premier League, not a single defender or goalkeeper has moved to La Liga for a fee in excess of £50 million.

Joao Felix is the most expensive signing in La Liga history and the Portuguese youngster is already looking like a future superstar for Atletico Madrid.


GK: Manuel Neuer (Schalke to Bayern Munich, £19m)
RB: Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart to Bayern Munich, £31.4m)
CB: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich, £68m)
CB: Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich to Borussia Dortmund, £33.8m)
LB: Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim to Borussia Dortmund, £22m)
DM: Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao to Bayern Munich, £31.6m)
CM: Corentin Tolisso (Lyon to Bayern Munich, £35m)
CM: Kerem Demirbay (Hoffenheim to Bayer Leverkusen, £28.6m)
AM: Julian Draxler (Schalke to Wolfsburg, £25.5m)
CF: Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, £31.5m)
CF: Mario Gomez (Stuttgart to Bayern Munich, £26.2m)

Buying clubs: Bayern Munich (x7), Borussia Dortmund (x2), Bayer Leverkusen (x1), Wolfsburg (x1)

Total cost: £352.6 million

Most of these transfer fees look modest, relatively speaking, compared to those of their European counterparts.

Only one player has been signed for over £50 million and that’s Hernandez, who completed his £68 million move to Bayern from Atletico in the summer.

Serie A

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Parma to Juventus, £32.6m)
CB: Matthijs De Ligt (Ajax to Juventus, £67.5m)
CB: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus to AC Milan, £35.1m)
CB: Kostas Manolas (Roma to Napoli, £32.2m)
RM: Joao Cancelo (Valencia to Juventus, £35.5m)
CM: Joao Mario (Sporting Lisbon to Inter, £35m)
CM: Manuel Rui Costa (Fiorentina to AC Milan, £30m)
LM: Hirving Lozano (PSV to Napoli, £36m)
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid to Juventus, £99.2m)
ST: Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli to Juventus, £75.3m)
ST: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United to Inter Milan, £74m)

Buying clubs: Juventus (x5), AC Milan (x2), Inter (x2), Napoli (x2)

Total cost: £552.4 million

Remarkably, Manuel Rui Costa and Gianluigi Buffon still get into Serie A’s most expensive XI, despite completing their moves to AC Milan and Juventus way back in 2001.

No player has broken the £100 million mark in Serie A history, although Cristiano Ronaldo came close in the summer of 2018 after completing his £99 million move to Juventus from Real Madrid.

Ligue 1

GK: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain £14m)
CB: David Luiz (Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, £40m)
CB: Thiago Silva (Milan to Paris Saint-Germain, £33m)
CB: Thilo Kehrer (Schalke to Paris Saint-Germain (£33m)
CM: Leandro Paredes (Zenit St Petersburg to Paris Saint-Germain, £35m)
CM: Idrissa Gueye (Everton to Paris Saint-Germain, £29m)
RW: Angel Di Maria (Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain, £44m)
AM: James Rodriguez (Porto to Monaco, £38.5m)
LW: Neymar (Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, £200m)
CF: Edinson Cavani (Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain, £55.6m)
CF: Kylian Mbappe (Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain, £166m)

Buying clubs: Paris Saint-Germain (x10), Monaco (x1)

Total cost: £688.1 million

Despite the eye-watering sums of money spent on Neymar (£200 million) and Mbappe (£166 million), Ligue 1’s most expensive XI isn’t as costly as the Premier League or La Liga XIs.

Cavani is the only other player who has been signed for a fee in excess of £50 million.

All three of these attacking stars were snapped up by PSG.

Rest of the World

GK: Zhang Lu (Liaoning Hongyun to Tianjin Quanjian, £7.3m)
CB: Bruno Alves (Porto to Zenit St Petersburg, £18.2m)
CB: Daley Blind (Manchester United to Ajax, £18.1m)
CB: Edson Alvarez (Club America to Ajax, £15.5m)
CM: Paulinho (Barcelona to Guangzhou Evergrande, £36.7m)
CM: Axel Witsel (Benfica to Zenit St Petersburg, £31.7m)
RW: Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg to Shanghai SIPG, £46.1m)
AM: Oscar (Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG, £52m)
LW: Malcom (Barcelona to Zenit St Petersburg, £41m)
CF: Cedric Bakambu (Villarreal to Beijing Guoan, £65m)
CF: Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande, £32m)

Buying clubs: Zenit St Petersburg (x3), Ajax (x2), Guangzhou Evergrande (x2), Shanghai SIPG (x2), Beijing Guoan (x1), Tianjin Quanjian (x1)

Total cost: £363.6 million

The vast majority of these signings have been made by clubs in China and Russia, although Ajax purchased two of the three centre-backs in this list (Blind and Alvarez) for a combined £33.6 million.

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