The 25 most expensive transfers in football history adjusted for inflation

Transfer fees in football seem to be spiralling out of control.

It was back in 1979 that Trevor Francis became the first British footballer to command a £1 million transfer.

It soon escalating and 10 years later, it was the norm for big clubs to splash £10 million on a player.

Real Madrid’s Galactico era in the early 2000s sent things crazy with deals worth almost £100 million.

But in recent years, it’s just gone mad.

Cristiano Ronaldo smashed the world record with an £80 million move in 2009. Gareth Bale eclipsed that a few years later, before Paul Pogba came along costing Manchester United £89 million.

Then there’s Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, who cost Paris Saint-Germain £121.5 million and £199.8 million respectively.

We always hear the question: ‘How much do you think *insert player’s name* would be worth in today’s market?’

Well, we’ve decided to work out the most expensive transfers in football history but with inflation taking into account.

Using data from, GIVEMESPORT have worked out who really is the most expensive player ever in football.

Let’s take a look at the top 25 transfers of all-time adjusted for inflation:

25th | Dennis Bergkamp | Ajax to Inter

Transfer Fee in 1993: £8,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £136,146,017

What a player. The Dutchman was 24 when he left his native country for Italy in an £8.8 million deal in 1993. His 11 goals in 52 appearances perhaps didn’t pay back his price-tag and he was soon shipped off to Arsenal for £7.5 million. It was in north London and the Premier League where Bergkamp really shone.

24th | Andriy Shevchenko | AC Milan to Chelsea

Transfer Fee in 2006: £39,490,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £136,561,389

It’s seen as £40 million wasted for Chelsea after the legendary striker only managed nine goals in two seasons for the Blues. With inflation taken into account, Shevchenko cost Chelsea around £136 million!

23rd | Kylian Mbappe | Monaco to PSG

Transfer Fee in 2018: £121,500,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £137,751,205

Kylian Mbappe is the second most expensive player in the history of football but, when he makes his next move, will surely command a bigger fee than the £121.5 million PSG paid for him in 2018. A future Ballon d’Or winner.

22nd | Luis Figo | Barcelona to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2000: £54,000,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £137,777,072

Perhaps the most controversial transfer in football history. Summed up by the fact Figo had a pig’s head thrown at him by a Barca fan upon his return to the Camp Nou. Fifty-four million pounds did buy Real a player that would go on to win the 2001 World Player of the Year.

21st | Alan Shearer | Blackburn to Newcastle

Transfer Fee in 1996: £18,900,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £138,026,584

We always question how much Alan Shearer would be worth in today’s market. Well, around £140 million, according to his move from Blackburn to Newcastle. Of course, during his prime at the Toon Army, he would have been worth a lot more than that. His Premier League goalscoring record of 260 goals may never be beaten.

20th | Kaka | AC Milan to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2009: £60,300,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £139,108,075

Two years after winning the Ballon d’Or, Real Madrid splashed £60 million on Kaka. He spent four seasons at the Bernabeu but could only lead them to one La Liga title and a Copa del Rey win.

19th | Predrag Mijatovic | Partizan to Valencia

Transfer Fee in 1993: £9,000,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £139,240,244

Not exactly a well-known name but Predrag Mijatovic was actually the runner-up in the 1997 Ballon d’Or, narrowly behind Ronaldo and above Zinedine Zidane (more on him later). Mijatovic spent three seasons at Real, scoring 36 goals before a move to Fiorentina.

18th | David Beckham | Manchester United to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2003: £33,750,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £141,775,416

Another Real Madrid signing. David Beckham became a ‘Galactico’ in the summer of 2003 in a deal that would be worth a massive £141 million these days. His crossing alone is worth that, though.

17th | Christian Vieri | Lazio to Inter

Transfer Fee in 1999: £41,830,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £144,135,998

Was there an Italian side that Vieri didn’t play for? The striker played for TEN different Italian clubs as well as Atletico Madrid in Spain and Monaco in France. But it was his then world-record move to Inter that makes the list. He rewarded them with 125 goals in six years.

16th | Zlatan Ibrahimovic | Inter to Barcelona

Transfer Fee in 2009: £62,550,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £144,298,675

Ironically, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s spell at Barcelona was deemed a bit of a failure. Not great for an inflation-adjusted fee of £144 million. The Swede still managed 16 league goals in 29 games but clashed with Pep Guardiola before a return to Italy and AC Milan.

15th | Fernando Torres | Liverpool to Chelsea

Transfer Fee in 2011: £52,650,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £144,987,097

Chelsea won’t like the fact they paid more than £50 million for Fernando Torres, let alone £145 million! Torres was wretched at Stamford Bridge compared to his Liverpool form, scoring 20 Premier League goals in 110 matches.

14th | Ronaldo | Barcelona to Inter

Transfer Fee in 1997: £25,200,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £145,226,390

Not the only time the original Ronaldo features in this list. After scoring 47 goals in 49 matches for Barcelona during the 1996/97 campaign, Inter spent a world record £25.2 million on the Brazilian. Despite injuries, he still managed 59 goals in 99 games before joining Real Madrid for a £40 million. More on that later…

13th | Neymar | Santos to Barcelona

Transfer Fee in 2013: £79,380,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £145,490,765

From one Brazilian superstar to another. Neymar was making headlines in Brazil with Santos and Barcelona snapped him up in 2013. He was only 21 at the time and he only managed nine league goal in his debut season. But in his next three campaigns, he bagged more than 90 goals earning him a world-record transfer to PSG.

12th | Darko Pancev | Red Star to Inter

Transfer Fee in 1992: £10,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £152,008,497

More than £10 million in 1992 was a quite ridiculous amount of money. Inter signed Darko Pancev after he had won the European Golden Boot in 1991. But it really didn’t work out with just three goals in 19 appearances. Oh dear.

11th | Igor Shalimov | Foggia to Inter

Transfer Fee in 1992: £10,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £152,008,497

Another big Inter signing in 1992 from former Serie A side Foggia. But the Russian midfielder lasted just two seasons before going to Duisburg in Germany, Lugano in Switzerland before a return to Italy to represent Udinese, Bologna and Napoli.

10th | Jean-Pierre Papin | Marseille to AC Milan

Transfer Fee in 1992: £10,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £152,008,497

What was it with Milan sides making huge signings in 1992? Jean-Pierre Papin had just won the 1991 Ballon d’Or when AC brought him for a world-record fee. Thirty-one goals in the next two seasons at the San Siro followed as he helped Milan win back-to-back Serie A titles and the 1993/94 Champions League. He moved to Bayern Munich after two seasons but injuries hampered the latter stages of his career.

9th | Alen Boksic | Marseille to Lazio

Transfer Fee in 1993: £9,900,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £153,164,269

That’s right, a former Middlesbrough striker is the ninth most expensive player of all-time when you take into account inflation. His 29 goals for Marseille during the 1992/93 season convinced Lazio to spend almost £10 million on him, shortly before he came fourth in the 1993 European Footballer of the Year. He helped Lazio finish second in his first full season but left for Juventus in the summer of 1996.

8th | Ronaldo | Inter to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2002: £40,500,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £155,210,616

After five years at Inter, Real Madrid decided to make Ronaldo a Galactico following his incredible 2002 World Cup. And it was money very well spent as the striker scored 104 goals in four-and-a-half years at the Bernabeu.

7th | Zinedine Zidane | Juventus to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2001: £69,750,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £157,531,382

The Galactico era was in full swing and the £70 million they spent on Zinedine Zidane proved to be money very well spent. The Frenchman spent his final five seasons at Real Madrid, gracing them with his grace. His incredible volley in the Champions League final in his debut campaign was worth his transfer fee alone.

6th | Rio Ferdinand | Leeds to Manchester United

Transfer Fee in 2002: £41,400,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £158,659,741

Rio Ferdinand became the most expensive British footballer of all-time when he moved for a world-record fee for a defender back in 2002. It was worth it, though. He spent 12 seasons at United, winning six Premier League titles and a Champions League.

5th | Gareth Bale | Tottenham to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2013: £90,900,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £166,605,071

Talking of expensive Brits. Gareth Bale actually became the world’s most expensive player back in 2013 and he’s had a pretty turbulent time in the last six-and-a-half season. That’s if scoring 104 goals and winning four Champions League finals – scoring goals in the final of two of them – can be described as turbulent.

4th | Romario | PSV to Barcelona

Transfer Fee in 1993: £10,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £167,088,293

The scorer of more than 1000 goals. Apparently. One thing we do know is that he cost Barcelona a hefty amount in 1993 but notched 30 goals in 33 La Liga matches in his debut season before winning the 1994 World Cup with Brazil. It’s a shame he didn’t stay at the Camp Nou for longer as he returned to his native country with Flamengo in 1995.

3th | Cristiano Ronaldo | Manchester United to Real Madrid

Transfer Fee in 2009: £84,600,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £195,166,553

Even £195 million in today’s money seems like decent business for Real Madrid, who broke the transfer record back in 2009. The Portuguese superstar repaid the club by scoring a ridiculous 450 goals in 438 matches and leading them to four Champions Leagues during his nine seasons.

2nd | Neymar | Barcelona to PSG

Transfer Fee in 2017: £199,800,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £202,025,615

The most expensive transfer in football history but it only makes No. 2 in this list. Of course, two years of inflation hasn’t impacted the transfer fee too much. In his time in France, Neymar has scored 64 goals, been involved in numerous controversial incidents and has been hampered by injuries. Perhaps he wasn’t worth the eye-watering fee after all.

1st | Gianluca Vialli | Sampdoria to Juventus

Transfer Fee in 1992: £14,850,000
Today’s Transfer Fee: £209,011,684

The most expensive transfer in the history of football after taking inflation into account is Gianluca Vialli’s £14.85 million move from Sampdoria to Juventus in 1992. The striker had spent eight seasons at Sampdoria and had scored goals for fun, helping his side win the Serie A title and the Cup Winners’ Cup. Juventus broke the world record to splash almost £15 million on him to join the likes of Roberto Baggio and Paolo Di Canio. Initially, the move wasn’t an overwhelming success with Vialli only scoring 10 league goals in his first two seasons. But he soon improved and helped Juve win the league in the 1994/95 season and the Champions League in the 1995/96 campaign. He then moved to Chelsea on a free transfer.

There’s certainly a few surprising names that crop up on the list. The likes of Mijatovic, Pancev and Shalimov certainly aren’t considered among the best to have ever played the game.

However, their moves in the early 1990s were all pretty costly at the time.

The list also goes to show how great Italian football was in the 90s. Both Milan clubs were seemingly breaking the world transfer record constantly early in that decade – a period in which Serie A was considered the greatest league in the world.

But there’s simply no beating Vialli’s transfer fee of an inflated £209 million back in 1992.

However, if Mbappe moves to Real Madrid in the coming years, it could well require a fee greater than that.

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