Who is the world’s most expensive football player?

Who is the world's most expensive football player? With transfer fees for players inflating year after year, we have taken a look at the top five most expensive players of all time, based on how much they were sold for from their old club to their new one.

The values are taken from Transfermarkt, and also feel free to check out our article on the richest football clubs in the world, and how much each trophy won has cost them over the last five years…

Who is the world's most expensive football player? – The top 5

It has not worked out for Felix at Atletico – Manu Reino/DeFodi Images – Photo by Icon sport

5. Joao Felix: Benfica to Atletico Madrid – €127.2m (2019/20)

Atletico are not known for breaking the bank on players, but Felix was certainly one of them. The then teenager was the next big thing at Benfica, as he recorded 31 goal contributions in 43 senior appearances before his big-money move to the Spanish capital.

Unfortunately, it has not quite worked out in Spain the way he would have wanted, as he has since been loaned out to Chelsea and FC Barcelona. Still only 24 years old, there is still plenty of time for Felix to rejuvenate his career, but it is safe to say that his market value has plummeted.

Ousmane Dembele
Dembele haad very few glittering moments in a Barcelona shirt – Javier Vicencio / Eyepix Group/Sipa USA – Photo by Icon sport

4. Ousmane Dembele: Borussia Dortmund to FC Barcelona – €135m (2017/18)

Like Felix, Dembele was another wonderkid in his day brought to Spanish football and the mighty Barcelona after impressing in Germany with Dortmund. Unfortunately, after not being able to cement a regular starting place at the Nou Camp, Dembele was sold to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

He has only managed to score five goals in all competitions so far in his debut season, but has managed an impressive 14 assists, and at 26 years of age, he has not hit the peak of his powers yet. Nonetheless, a couple of impressive seasons under his belt in France could earn him another high-profile move in the future, like former teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Couinho signed for Barcelona for big money – David Ramos/Getty Images – Photo by Icon Sport

3. Philippe Coutinho: Liverpool to FC Barcelona – €135m (2017/18)

Remarkably in the same year that they bought Dembele for big money, Barcelona also splashed the cash to sign Coutinho from Liverpool. These two moves would contribute to the large financial debt that the club put themselves into years later, a situation that they still have not truly recovered from.

Indeed, Coutinho can also be regarded as an unsuccessful signing considering how much he cost, and after being loaned to Bayern Munich and Aston Villa, he was bought by the Villans, but is now playing out in Qatar with Al-Duhail SC. A dramatic fall from grace for the 31-year-old, and there is no doubt Liverpool were the real winners from the original deal, as they used the Coutinho money to sign both Virgil van Dijk and Alisson.

Mbappe has announced that he will be leaving PSG at the end of the season – Firas Abdullah/ABACAPRESS.COM – Photo by Icon Sport

2. Kylian Mbappe: AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain – €180m (2018/19)

One of the rare successful transfers on the list saw French prodigy Mbappe move from Monaco, who he had helped win the Ligue 1 title as a teenager, to Paris. He has spearheaded the Parisians to multiple domestic titles, but the one that has eluded him and the club is the coveted UEFA Champions League.

PSG were knocked out by Dortmund 2-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of this year's competition, and were beaten in the final by Bayern Munich in 2020. Mbappe has since announced that he will be leaving PSG at the end of the season, and he is expected to be joining Real Madrid.

Neymar Jr. en el PSG
Neymar is currently the world's most expensive football player – Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport

1. Neymar: FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain – €222m (2017/18)

The newly mega-rich PSG rocked the footballing world in 2017 when they became the first team, and only one still to this day, to pay over €200m for a player when they took Neymar from Barcelona. The Brazilian was one of the hottest properties in world football at the time, and his transfer broke the famous “MSN” partnership consisting of him, Messi and Luis Suarez, one of the most formidable front three's the world has ever seen.

Similar to Mbappe, Neymar's transfer to PSG has to be considered a success given all of the silverware that he did win, although again the Champions League did allude him in the French capital. Neymar was one of the big names to move to the Saudi Pro League last summer, but he has unfortunately been injured for most of this campaign with Al-Hilal.


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Adam Clancy

Adam is a lead writer on Football Whispers. He is a big Arsenal fan, and also follows his local club Wealdstone, made famous by The Wealdstone Raider, of whom he has interviewed. Adam also follows darts, boxing, cricket and tennis, among many other sports.