As the football transfer window approaches its close, conversations around the fees being paid have been rife. The cost of engaging a world-class football player exceeds 9 figures and for this reason, many people reviewing the fees query the value of such an extreme investment.
But high transfer fees are not a new phenomena. In fact, footballers have been purchased at high rates for many years – though inflation rates can sometimes cover up the true extent of those earlier buys.
That’s why the financial analysis team here at AskTraders has been reviewing the true cost of football transfers – taking the original fee paid and translating it into ‘today’s money’ using the Bank of England’s inflation calculator. Using this calculator, we’ve revealed the amount each player would have commanded had the sale happened today – and the results might be surprising!
The world’s most expensive football player in today’s money is Neymar.
Neymar currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team. He was transferred from Barcelona in 2017 at the age of 25 for the fee of £199,800,000 – which, adjusted for inflation, equates to £211,770,527.
The Premier League’s transfer window was reshaped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now running from July 27th to October 5th. As it stands, the most expensive transfer of 2020 so far is Kai Havertz, who will move from Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea for the fee of £71,000,000.
Havertz’s fee is a whopping £141,000,000 LESS than the fee paid for Neymar in 2017.
The study used the 50 most expensive transfer fees and applied the Bank of England’s inflation calculation to reveal the true value of the transfers in today’s equivalent money. The findings show that Neymar is the most expensive transfer of all time at an equivalent value of £211,770,527.49 (originally £199,800,000 in 2017), followed by Kylian Mbappe and Zinedine Zidane.
The table below shows the full rankings from 1-50:
|Rank||Player Name||From||To||Position||Original Fee (GBP)||Adjusted Fee (GBP)||Year|
|2||Kylian Mbappé||Monaco||Paris Saint-Germain||Forward||£162,000,000||£166,156,464||2018|
|4||Zinedine Zidane||Juventus||Real Madrid||Midfielder||£69,750,000||£116,229,596||2001|
|5||Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||Real Madrid||Forward||£84,600,000||£114,335,445||2009|
|6||João Félix||Benfica||Atlético Madrid||Forward||£113,400,000||£113,400,000||2019|
|7||Antoine Griezmann||Atlético Madrid||Barcelona||Forward||£108,000,000||£108,000,000||2019|
|8||Gareth Bale||Tottenham Hotspur||Real Madrid||Forward||£90,000,000||£103,919,124||2013|
|9||Paul Pogba||Juventus||Manchester United||Midfielder||£94,500,000||£103,752,385||2016|
|10||Ousmane Dembélé||Borussia Dortmund||Barcelona||Forward||£94,500,000||£100,161,736||2017|
|11||Luís Figo||Barcelona||Real Madrid||Midfielder||£55,800,000||£94,630,753||2000|
|12||Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Juventus||Forward||£90,000,000||£92,309,147||2018|
|13||Eden Hazard||Chelsea||Real Madrid||Forward||£90,000,000||£90,000,000||2019|
|19||Romelu Lukaku||Everton||Manchester United||Striker||£76,500,000||£81,083,310||2017|
|20||Harry Maguire||Leicester City||Manchester United||Defender||£78,300,000||£78,300,000||2019|
|21||Virgil van Dijk||Southampton||Liverpool||Defender||£76,050,000||£78,001,229||2018|
|22||James Rodríguez||Monaco||Real Madrid||Midfielder||£68,400,000||£77,156,554||2014|
|23||Ángel Di María||Real Madrid||Manchester United||Midfielder||£68,040,000||£76,750,467||2014|
|24||Kevin De Bruyne||VfL Wolfsburg||Manchester City||Midfielder||£67,500,000||£75,394,853||2015|
|25||Kepa Arrizabalaga||Athletic Bilbao||Chelsea||Goalkeeper||£72,000,000||£73,847,317||2018|
|26||Kai Havertz||Bayer Leverkusen||Chelsea||Midfielder||£72,000,000||£72,000,000||2020|
|27||Romelu Lukaku||Manchester United||Internazionale||Striker||£72,000,000||£72,000,000||2019|
|29||Lucas Hernandez||Atlético Madrid||Bayern Munich||Defender||£72,000,000||£72,000,000||2019|
|30||Matthijs de Ligt||Ajax||Juventus||Defender||£67,500,000||£67,500,000||2019|
|31||Frenkie de Jong||Ajax||Barcelona||Midfielder||£67,500,000||£67,500,000||2019|
|32||Edinson Cavani||Napoli||Paris Saint-Germain||Striker||£58,050,000||£67,027,835||2013|
|34||Thomas Lemar||Monaco||Atlético Madrid||Midfielder||£63,000,000||£64,616,403||2018|
|35||Ángel Di María||Manchester United||Paris Saint-Germain||Midfielder||£57,600,000||£64,336,941||2015|
|36||Rodri||Atlético Madrid||Manchester City||Midfielder||£63,000,000||£63,000,000||2019|
|37||Raheem Sterling||Liverpool||Manchester City||Forward||£56,250,000||£62,829,044||2015|
|38||Riyad Mahrez||Leicester City||Manchester City||Forward||£61,020,000||£62,585,601||2018|
|39||Álvaro Morata||Real Madrid||Chelsea||Striker||£58,950,000||£62,481,845||2017|
|40||Radamel Falcao||Atlético Madrid||Monaco||Striker||£54,000,000||£62,351,475||2013|
|41||Aymeric Laporte||Athletic Bilbao||Manchester City||Defender||£58,680,000||£60,185,564||2018|
|42||Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Borussia Dortmund||Arsenal||Striker||£57,330,000||£58,800,926||2018|
|43||João Cancelo||Juventus||Manchester City||Defender||£58,500,000||£58,500,000||2019|
|46||Christian Pulisic||Borussia Dortmund||Chelsea||Forward||£57,600,000||£57,600,000||2019|
|47||Naby Keïta||RB Leipzig||Liverpool||Midfielder||£54,000,000||£55,385,488||2018|
|48||Fred||Shakhtar Donetsk||Manchester United||Midfielder||£53,100,000||£54,462,396||2018|
|49||Luka Jović||Eintracht Frankfurt||Real Madrid||Forward||£54,000,000||£54,000,000||2019|
|50||Tanguy Ndombele||Lyon||Tottenham Hotspur||Midfielder||£54,000,000||£54,000,000||2019|
Gareth Bale – whose struggles with current club Real Madrid and clauses around him leaving have been widely documented – sits at position 8 in the rankings. If rumours of a transfer to Manchester United are true, he’ll move to position 7 as his transfer fee of a suspected £89 million will be supplemented by a £22 million payment ‘get out’ payment.
Lionel Messi confirmed last week that he will not be leaving Barcelona after confusion relating to the cut off dates of his contract clauses mean a fee of £630 million would be payable on his release. If Messi was sold, he would become the most expensive transfer of all time on this basis alone – a fee that would equate to purchasing Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Philippe Coutinho and Zinedine Zidane at today’s rates!
Earlier this month, the Premier League confirmed it had lost its £564m contract with its Chinese licensee for television rights with immediate effect – something which will have further ramifications for the fees footballers can command.
Inflation calculation is used to reflect the changing value of money based on the rate at which prices increase and purchasing power decreases. It shows what the equivalent fee would be if the original transfer fees were subject to the same economic influences as money today.
Nigel Frith, senior financial analyst at AskTraders, explained:
“The rate of inflation is a product of many economic changes and for the most part, we don’t notice because things change incrementally.
“Reflecting on the equivalent fees of football allows us to see what a difference inflation makes and how it affects what we spend. It’s important when considering purchases and investments how inflation will affect future value.”
If you’d like to understand how inflation rates can affect your financial decisions, take a look at our trading guides.