Neymar, Coutinho, Zidane: The 15 most profitable transfers in football history

According to the Guardian, Liverpool have a verbal agreement in place to sign Darwin Nunez from Benfica in a deal that could potentially be worth around £85 million.

The Reds will pay a guaranteed figure of £68.3 million with a potential further £17 million coming through performance based add-ons.

Given Benfica paid just £21.6 million to UD Almeria back in 2020, that could mean a potential mark up of over £63 million on Nunez.

It’s not bad business, ey?

But how would that rank in comparison to some of the other highly profitable transfers that have occurred throughout football history?

We headed over to Transfermarkt to do some digging and find out.

Check out what we came up with below.

The 15 most profitable transfers in football history

15. Aurélien Tchouameni (Monaco to Real Madrid) – £55.8m
14. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United) – £57.97m
13. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona) – £59.4m
12. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City to Manchester City) – £60.57m
11. Thomas Lemar (Monaco to Atletico Madrid) – £61.2m

10. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool) – £62.06m
9. Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United) – £65.97m
8. Zinedine Zidane (Juventus to Real Madrid) – £66.6m
7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United to Real Madrid) – £67.5m
6. Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina to Juventus) – £70.56m

5. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid) – £72m
4. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid) – £77.67m
3. Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona) – £94.5m
2. Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool to Barcelona) – £109.8m
1. Neymar (Barcelona to Paris-Saint Germain) – £120.6m

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So, despite Barcelona buying Neymar for a staggering £79m from Santos, the £200m fee that PSG forked out means he somehow ends up the most profitable transfer football has ever known.

His compatriot, Coutinho, takes second place after being sold to Barcelona for 121.5m. Whilst the Catalan giants are involved yet again in the final podium position via Dembele – it’s fair to say neither of those transfers turned out remotely well.

The onus then switches to Real Madrid after spending big on Bale and Hazard from Chelsea and Tottenham respectively.

Moving out of the top five, the then record fees that Madrid paid for Ronaldo and Zidane are still good enough to make the list.

‘Zizou’ signed in the midst of the Galactico era way back in 2001, so it’s incredible that he remains the 8th most profitable transfer of all-time.

Existing Premier League centre-backs, Maguire and Van Dijk, also feature in the top 10. Those deals couldn’t have turned out any more differently for United and Liverpool…

Whereas 11-15 is made up entirely of current players, with Sancho and the recently confirmed Tchouameni bringing up the rear.

After our research then, we can conclude that should Liverpool end up paying top dollar for their Uruguayan hitman, he would just about knock Van Dijk out the top 10.

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