With the new Premier League TV deal, English top flight clubs have been emboldened with unparalleled levels of income recently.
This has seen previously frugal, mid-level sides out-spending some of the Continent’s traditional super powers.
And it has also brought about an accelerated level of spending from the teams hoping to contest the Premier League title. Manchester City spent around £170 million on new arrivals this summer, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all made major moves in the transfer market.
Real Madrid and Barcelona remain unafraid to splash the cash, while in Italy, Juventus recently smashed their club record to sign Gonzalo Higuaín from Napoli.
With the world transfer record having been broken this summer thanks to United’s £89 million capture of French star Paul Pogba, it can only be a matter of time before we see £100 million spent on one player.
So, which player is likely to be the first to break the £100 million barrier? Here are the likeliest contenders…
When Juventus forked out €40 million to sign Paulo Dybala from Palermo in the summer of 2015, many thought the Old Lady were taking a big risk. The young Argentinian star had bags of potential but, at the time, the fee seemed excessive.
Dybala soon put paid to that line of thinking by quickly becoming a key player for the Bianconeri.
Initially, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri was reluctant to start the youngster, feeling that the player’s long-term development would be better served by a gradual introduction to the line-up.
However, within the first two months of the Serie A season, Dybala had not only become a first-team regular – he was virtually undroppable.
The 22-year-old scored 23 goals in 46 appearances in his first season in Turin, and has overcome a brief scoreless spell to net four times from nine games this term.
Thought of primarily as a budding number 9 during his time with Palermo, Dybala has shown that he has the requisite creative skills to perform equally as well in a Trequartista role.
Fast, skilful and owner of a left foot which is capable of supreme precision, power and delicacy, the six-cap Albiceleste star is regarded as arguably the hottest prospect on the continent.
Recent media reports have linked Dybala with a 2018 move to Real Madrid. A departure from Turin may be some way off for the youngster, but if Juventus decide to cash in on their prized asset in the next few years, they could quite conceivably triple their investment.
Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann has risen to the status of being widely regarded as one of the world’s finest footballers over the last month.
Key to Atléti’s run to the Champions League final and star of France’s Euro 2016 campaign on home soil this summer, the 25-year-old is a genuine contender to lift this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Griezmann joined Los Colchoneros in 2014, signing from Real Sociedad in a €30 million deal. The Mâcon-born player was used primarily as a winger at the Anoeta, but Atleti boss Diego Simeone converted him into a centre-forward upon his arrival at the Vicente Calderón.
El Cholo’s decision to play Griezmann up front proved inspired as the Frenchman has netted 63 goals in 115 games for Los Rojiblancos.
Griezmann’s contract is believed to include a €100 million (£89.1 million) buyout clause, which would fall short of making him the first £100 million player if any potential suitor were to swoop for him.
But the 38-cap France international has stated his desire to remain at Atlético for as long as Simeone in in charge. The Argentinian manager’s contract runs until 2018, by which time it’s easy to imagine Griezmann being offered new terms which could see his release clause raised even higher.
When Gareth Bale moved to Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for £85.3 million in 2013, he became the most expensive player in history. That record stood for three years until Manchester United re-signed Pogba from Juventus this summer.
In his three seasons in the Spanish capital, Bale has twice lifted the Champions League while becoming a key player for Los Blancos.
Played predominantly on the right of Madrid’s front three, the Welshman has scored 62 goals from 134 appearances, despite having to play second fiddle to three-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bale has always maintained that he is happy in Spain and has no intention of returning to the Premier League any time soon. But that hasn’t stopped yearly rumours linking the 27-year-old with a mega-money move to Manchester United.
It is believed that United tried to sign Bale in 2013, even offering Spurs a higher fee than that tabled by Madrid, but the former Southampton man had already made up his mind to move to Spain.
If the Red Devils intend to lure Bale back to England in the near future, a substantial fee would be required.
At 24 years of age, Brazilian superstar Neymar has already accomplished more than most elite players could hope to achieve in their entire career.
The Copa Libertadores, the Champions League, the Word Club Cup, two La Liga titles and two Copa del Reys – Neymar has won it all. He has even amassed 79 caps for Brazil and scored an incredible 49 international goals.
Signed from Santos in 2014, Neymar has become one of the stars of the Camp Nou. As part of the vaunted ‘MSN’ attacking trio along with Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, the flamboyant icon is considered one of the very best players on the planet.
This summer, there was speculation that Neymar could be on his way out of Catalonia, with Paris Saint Germain reportedly ready to pay an obscene transfer fee and wage packet to secure his services. Both Manchester clubs were also thought to have made offers.
But the Blaugrana’s number 11 signed a new contract with the Spanish champions. The new five-year deal sees Neymar’s buyout clause raise to €200 million for the first year, €222 million in the second, and €250 million for the remaining three years.
Considering his age, current ability and potential for even greater success, Neymar will surely shatter all records should he decide to call time on his Barcelona career any time soon.