The world-record transfer fee has been broken for the second year in succession following Neymar’s €222million switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG activated the release clause in the Brazilian’s contract to take him away from Camp Nou, absolutely smashing the deal that saw Paul Pogba return to Manchester United from Juventus for a fee that could reach €120m just last year.
Neymar’s move continues the astonishing upward trend in fees paid for the top talents in the modern era, breaking barriers that previously seemed inconceivable.
Christian Vieri was the world’s most expensive player at the turn of the millennium having swapped Lazio for Inter in a €49m deal.
We take a look at how the world-record fee has progressed in the 21st century.
€62m – Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid
The Portuguese winger had claimed seven trophies across his first four seasons in Barcelona, but after finishing the 1999-2000 season without any silverware Figo did the unimaginable. He swapped Catalonia for the capital, controversially moving to arch-rivals Real Madrid to signal the start of the ‘Galactico’ era at the Santiago Bernabeu. Figo became a hated figure at Camp Nou and infamously had a pig’s head thrown at him upon his return to his former stomping grounds. For the player it was a hugely successful move, including two LaLiga titles and Champions League glory in 2002.
€75m – Zinedine Zidane: Juventus to Real Madrid
In 2001, Real Madrid broke the record again by bringing in World Cup and European Championship-winning France midfielder Zidane from Juventus. Undoubtedly one of the all-time great creators in the centre of the park, his exquisite volley in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen immortalised him in the club’s history. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year for a second time in 2003 and has continued to win trophies with Madrid as a coach, guiding them to back-to-back Champions League titles and LaLiga glory in 2016-17.
€94m – Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United to Real Madrid
It proved a busy close-season for Madrid in 2009. Shortly after signing Kaka from AC Milan for €65m, at the time a world-record fee in pounds sterling at £56m, secured the addition of 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 two LaLiga titles and three Champions League triumphs.
€100.8m – Gareth Bale: Tottenham 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.
€120m – Paul Pogba: Juventus to Manchester United
After letting Paul Pogba leave for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012, Manchester United stumped up what was deemed an astronomical 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. His first season back at United failed to provide much in the way of instant fireworks, but, despite a disappointing Premier League campaign, they triumphed in the Europa League to secure the only piece of silverware missing from their trophy cabinet.
€222m – Neymar: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain
Part of one of the most exciting attacking tridents in the history of football, Neymar has decided to leave Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi and forge his own legacy at PSG. The Brazilian superstar was a treble-winner with Barca in Luis Enrique’s first season at the helm in 2014-15, scoring the final goal in the Champions League final victory over Juventus. PSG will be hoping Neymar can immediately regain the Ligue 1 crown taken from them by Monaco last season, but his ultimate task will be providing the European glory craved so desperately by the cash-rich Qatari owners.
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