Football is a sport awash with cash, but Paul Pogba’s impending transfer from Juventus to Manchester United for an initial £93million (€110m) – potentially rising to almost £102m (€120m) – sends it into a new era.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger branded reports of the fee “completely crazy” last week, while Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel claimed prices were “out of control”.
Nevertheless, United have paid a nine-figure sum to secure Pogba’s return to the Premier League, signalling their intent to return to being the greatest force in England football.
Here, we look at the evolution of the world transfer record:
£1K – Alf Common to Middlesbrough
How things have changed in 111 years. Back in 1905, Alf Common became the first player to be involved in a four-figure transfer. Common, who was part of Sheffield United’s 1902 FA Cup-winning side, swapped Sunderland for north-east rivals Middlesbrough to set a new transfer record. He played for England three times and scored twice before retiring in 1914.
£150K – Luis Suarez to Inter
In 1961, Spain international Luis Suarez swapped Barcelona for Inter in a deal worth £152,000, reuniting with Helenio Herrera in Italy. The 1960 Ballon d’Or winner went on to win three Serie A titles and two successive European Cups during his nine years in Milan, forming part of a team remembered fondly to this day.
£1.2m – Giuseppe Savoldi to Napoli
Football icon Johan Cruyff’s move from Ajax to Barcelona in 1973 came in just under the million-pound mark, but it was surpassed two years later. Napoli spent £1.2m in order to sign Giuseppe Savoldi from Bologna, and he helped them to the Coppa Italia title in the 1975-76 season, scoring 12 goals in the competition. Savoldi returned to Bologna in 1979 before finishing his career at Atalanta, the club with who he started out at.
£10m – Jean-PIerre Papin to AC Milan
After topping the Ligue 1 scoring charts for five straight seasons at Marseille, also helping them to the European Cup final in 1991, Jean-Pierre Papin moved to Milan in a deal worth £10m. After joining in 1992, the Frenchman only spent two seasons at San Siro but helped them to a pair of Scudetti and Champions League glory.
£32m – Christian Vieri to Inter
Like fellow Italians Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Baggio and Paolo Rossi before him, Christian Vieri commanded a world record transfer fee when he swapped Lazio for Inter in 1999. The £32.1m move surpassed Denilson’s £21.5m move from Sao Paulo to Real Betis, but although Vieri was the highest scoring player in the 2002-03 Serie A season, he left the Nerazzurri having only won the Coppa Italia in 2005.
£56m – Kaka to Real Madrid
Real Madrid made world record signings in successive years with the additions of Luis Figo in 2000 and then Zinedine Zidane in 2001, but they only surpassed the £50m milestone when purchasing Kaka from AC Milan in 2009 for £56m. A string of injuries made it difficult for him to make his mark at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he left four years later.
£80m – Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid
It proved a busy close-season for Madrid in 2009, who, shortly after Kaka’s arrival, secured the £80m addition of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. The Portuguese star was presented in front of a packed Bernabeu and has gone on to be one of the club’s greatest ever players, becoming their all-time highest scoring player and helping secure one LaLiga title and two Champions League triumphs.
£86m – Gareth Bale to Real Madrid
There were rumours of unrest when Madrid broke the transfer record for the fifth successive time in order to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham in 2013. Ronaldo was reportedly unhappy at no longer being the world’s most expensive player, but the pair have since insisted they get along well. The Welshman scored important goals in the 2013-14 finals of the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
£102m – Paul Pogba to Manchester United
After letting Paul Pogba leave for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012, Manchester United are set to stump up an astronimcal amount to bring the Frenchman back to Old Trafford. Pogba instantly became a key figure at Juve, playing a key role in four successive Serie A title wins and the Turin side’s historic second successive domestic double in 2015-16. Will he prove to be worth the world’s first nine-figure fee?