Right now, Neymar is the most expensive football player in history. His 2017 move from the Spanish team Barcelona to the French club Paris Saint Germain had the highest ever transfer fee attached to it: €222 million or almost $250 million. No other football player in history has been transferred for such a sum – and this record will likely stand for years to come. Not that there are no contenders to break it: Mbappé, the second most expensive player (and the most expensive teenager) joined PSG last year for €135 million (over $151 million). The French youngster attracted the attention of every major club and most likely every single Betway bettor during last year’s World Cup when he became the second ever teenager to score in the final (the Brazilian football legend Pelé was the first). While this year we haven’t seen any transfers that would even come close to the value of these two record holders, we’ve seen quite a few that qualify as “high-profile”. More precisely, five of them.
Rodri, born Rodrigo Hernández Cascante, has left his native Spain to play for the Premier League side Manchester City this summer. The 23-year-old started playing professionally in 2006, first with Rayo Majadahonda, then with Atlético Madrid’s youth team, finally settling at Villarreal. He was promoted to Villarreal’s senior B team in 2015, then to the first team, where he stayed until 2018. In May 2018, Rodri signed a five-year contract with Atlético Madrid €20 million plus 5 million in variables. His performance must have been convincing enough for Premier League side Manchester City to pay his buyout clause: Rodri joined the Manchester team this summer in a contract worth around €70 million. This is the highest a Premier League team ever paid for a footballer.
Frenkie de Jong
Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong began his professional player career at Willem II but he was quickly beguiled by Ajax Amsterdam. At the time, he was signed for €1 million but saw his worth grow exponentially after establishing himself as one of the best young European players. When he left Ajax for Barcelona this summer, the Spanish club paid an initial fee of €75 million for him.
The player known as Lucas graduated from Atlético Madrid’s youth academy in 2014 and was promoted to the club’s first team in the same year. In 2018, he was part of France’s winning World Cup squad, and this probably sparked the interest of many major teams in him – a year later, he was signed by the German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich for five years in a transfer contract worth €80 million.
The first player transfer to reach €100 million this year was the one involving Belgian player Eden Hazard. Considered one of the best players in the world, he played as an attacking midfielder for the Premier League team Chelsea for the last seven years. This June, he signed a contract with Real Madrid – the Spanish team reportedly paid €100 million to have him, and this amount can grow to €130 million with all the additional fees. Hazard will reportedly earn £400,000 a week.
João Félix has been teased as one of the most desirable players this year – and the rumours were proven to be true when his transfer from Benfica to Atlético Madrid was announced. Félix made his professional debut at the age of 16, three years ago, and advanced fast in the ranks of Benfica. He became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in a UEFA Europa League match, aged 19. This summer, he left Benfica to join Atlético Madrid – his seven-year contract cost the Spanish team €126 million, the fifth highest fee ever paid for a player, making Félix the second most expensive teenager after Kylian Mbappé.