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World football transfer record

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Title: World football transfer record  
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Subject: Ruud Gullit, Johan Cruyff, Alan Shearer, Transfer (association football), In the news/Candidates/June 2009
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World football transfer record

The three most recent record holders
Kaká (2009)
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009–2013)
Gareth Bale (2013–present)

This is a list of the progression of the world football transfer record when measured in British pounds. The concept of transfers in football dates back to the introduction of professionalism into the sport. The transfer of WIllie Groves from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa in 1893 occurred just eight years after the introduction of professionalism by The FA in 1885.[1] Today, the record is held by Gareth Bale, who, in 2013 became the first player to cost €100m when he transferred from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid.


  • Transfer record progression 1
    • Number of records by country 1.1
    • Number of records by continent 1.2
  • See also 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4

Transfer record progression

The first player to ever be transferred for a fee of over £100 was Scottish striker Willie Groves when he made the switch from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa in 1893,[2] eight years after the legalisation of professionalism in the sport. It took just twelve years for the figure to become £1000, when Sunderland striker Alf Common moved to Middlesbrough.[3][4]

It wasn't until 1928 that the first five-figure transfer took place. David Jack of Bolton Wanderers was the subject of interest from Arsenal, and in order to negotiate the fee down, Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman got the Bolton representatives drunk.[5][6] Subsequently, David Jack was transferred for a world record fee when Arsenal paid £10,890 to Bolton for his services, after Bolton had asked for £13,000, which was double the previous record made when Sunderland signed Burnley's Bob Kelly a fee of for £6,500.[4]

The first player from outside Great Britain to break the record was Bernabé Ferreyra, a player known as La Fiera for his powerful shot. His 1932 transfer from Tigre to River Plate cost £23k,[6] and the record would last for 17 years (the longest the record has lasted) until it was broken by Manchester United's sale of Johnny Morris to Derby County for £24k in March 1949. The record was broken seven further times between 1949 and 1961, when Luis Suárez Miramontes was sold by FC Barcelona to Inter Milan for £152k, becoming the first ever player sold for more than £100k.[4]

Diego Maradona is the only player to twice be transferred for world record fees.

In 1968, Pietro Anastasi became the first £500k player when Juventus purchased him from Varese,[6] which was followed seven years later with Giuseppe Savoldi becoming the first million pound player when he transferred from Bologna to Napoli.[4][6]

The only player to twice be transferred for world record fees is Diego Maradona.[4][6] His transfers from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for £3m, and then to Napoli for £5m, both broke the record in 1982 and 1984 respectively.

In the space of 61 days in 1992,[6] three transfers broke the record,[4] all by Italian clubs: Jean-Pierre Papin transferred from Marseille to A.C. Milan, becoming the first ever £10m player.[6] Almost immediately, rivals Juventus topped that with the signing of Gianluca Vialli for a fee of £12m from Sampdoria. Milan then completed the signing of Gianluigi Lentini for a fee of £13m which stood as the record for three years.

The 1996 transfer of Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United, for a fee of £15m,[7] kickstarted a year-by-year succession of record breaking transfers: Ronaldo moved the following year to Inter Milan from FC Barcelona for a fee of £17m,[8] which was followed in 1998 by the shock transfer of his fellow countryman Denílson from São Paulo to Real Betis for a fee of approximately £21m.[4][6][9]

In 1999 and 2000, Italian clubs returned to their record-breaking ways, with Christian Vieri transferring from Lazio to Inter Milan for £28m,[10] while Hernán Crespo's transfer from Parma to Lazio ensured he became the first player to cost more than £30m.[4][11] The transfer prompted the BBC to ask "has the world gone mad"?[12]

It took two weeks for the record to be broken when Luís Figo made a controversial £37m move from Barcelona to rivals Real Madrid.[4][13] Since then, Real Madrid have always held the record, with the only players to subsequently break the record being Zinedine Zidane in 2001 when signed for £46m from Juventus,[4] the £80m transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009,[4] and Gareth Bale in 2013, who became the first player to cost €100m when he transferred from Tottenham Hotspur.

Comparison of fees in different nations is complicated by varying exchange rates. This table uses British Pound Sterling for older and comparison fees and Euro for newer transfers as the unit of currency.

Year Player Selling Club Buying Club Fee (£) Fee (€)
1893 Willie Groves West Bromwich Albion Aston Villa 100[2] -
1904 Andy McCombie Sunderland Newcastle United 700[14] -
1905 Alf Common Sunderland Middlesbrough 1,000[15] -
1913 Daniel Shea West Ham United Blackburn Rovers 2,000[16] -
1913 Tommy Barber Bolton Wanderers Aston Villa 2,000[17] -
1914 Percy Dawson Heart of Midlothian Blackburn Rovers 2,500[18] -
1920 David Jack Plymouth Argyle Bolton Wanderers 3,500[19] -
1922 Syd Puddefoot West Ham United Falkirk 5,000[20] -
1922 Warney Cresswell South Shields Sunderland 5,500[21] -
1925 Bob Kelly Burnley Sunderland 6,500[22] -
1928 David Jack Bolton Wanderers Arsenal 10,890[21] -
1932 Bernabé Ferreyra Tigre River Plate 23,000[21] -
1949 Johnny Morris Manchester United Derby County 24,000[22] -
1949 Eddie Quigley Sheffield Wednesday Preston North End 26,500[22] -
1950 Trevor Ford Aston Villa Sunderland 30,000[22] -
1951 Jackie Sewell Notts County Sheffield Wednesday 34,500[22] -
1952 Hans Jeppson Atalanta Napoli 52,000[21] -
1954 Juan Schiaffino Peñarol Milan 72,000[21] -
1957 Enrique Omar Sivori River Plate Juventus 93,000[21] -
1961 Luis Suárez Barcelona Internazionale 152,000[21] -
1963 Angelo Sormani Mantova Roma 250,000[21] -
1967 Harald Nielsen Bologna Internazionale 300,000[23] -
1968 Pietro Anastasi Varese Juventus 500,000[21] -
1973 Johan Cruyff Ajax Barcelona 922,000[21] -
1975 Giuseppe Savoldi Bologna Napoli 1,200,000[21] -
1976 Paolo Rossi Juventus Vicenza 1,750,000[21] -
1982 Diego Maradona Boca Juniors Barcelona 3,000,000[21] -
1984 Diego Maradona Barcelona Napoli 5,000,000[21] -
1987 Ruud Gullit PSV Eindhoven Milan 6,000,000[21] -
1990 Roberto Baggio Fiorentina Juventus 8,000,000[21] -
1992 Jean-Pierre Papin Marseille Milan 10,000,000[21] -
1992 Gianluca Vialli Sampdoria Juventus 12,000,000[21] -
1992 Gianluigi Lentini Torino Milan 13,000,000[21] -
1996 Alan Shearer Blackburn Rovers Newcastle United 15,000,000[24] -
1997 Ronaldo Barcelona Internazionale 19,500,000[21] -
1998 Denílson São Paulo Real Betis 21,500,000[25][26] -
1999 Christian Vieri Lazio Internazionale 32,100,000[27] 49,000,000
2000 Hernán Crespo Parma Lazio 35,500,000[27] 55,000,000
2000 Luís Figo Barcelona Real Madrid 37,000,000[27] 62,000,000
2001 Zinedine Zidane Juventus Real Madrid 46,600,000 [A][27][28][29] 75,000,000
2009 Kaká Milan Real Madrid 56,000,000 [B][30][31] 68,000,000
2009 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United Real Madrid 80,000,000 [C][32][33] 94,000,000
2013 Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur Real Madrid 85,300,000 [34] 100,000,000

Number of records by country

Country Player records Record selling Record buying
England 12 16 14
Italy 8 13 18
Argentina 5 3 1
Brazil 3 1 0
Scotland 2 1 1
Netherlands 2 2 0
France 2 1 0
Wales 2 0 0
Portugal 2 0 0
Spain 1 4 8
Uruguay 1 1 0
Denmark 1 0 0
Sweden 1 0 0

Number of records by continent

Continent Player records Record selling Record buying
UEFA 34 38 42

See also


A. a The Juventus FC web site reported the total fee was exactly 150 billion lira. The Juventus FC financial statement for 2002 describes this as approximately €75m. Using the official base exchange rate for lira to pounds for that time (9 July 2001), this is exactly £46,589,576.90[35] in pounds sterling, reported in Britain variously between £46m and £47m at the time.

B. b For comparisons, this list uses a valuation of the fee converted to British pounds at the time of the transfer. Zidane's fee in 2001 was 150 billion lira, then equivalent to €77.5m. This appears to be 30% larger than Figo's €60m fee. That comparison in Euros is coincidentally valid because the British pound and the Euro didn't mutually vary much in the intervening year. Kaká's transfer fee of €65m was eight years later in 2009. Due to the valuation method used in this list, Zidane's fee in "2001-Euros" cannot be compared numerically with Kaká's fee in "2009-Euros". In this context, they are different units of currency, and must be converted to the valuation currency first. This paradox is inherent to multiple currency comparisons across time, regardless of the currency and conversion time-frame are chosen as the standard for valuation.

C. c Conversion by British journalists; the actual offer was made and concluded at €94m.

D. d The Gareth Bale transfer was for exactly €100m.[36] This was converted from euros to pounds by the British media, where it was widely reported as £85.3m. [37]


  1. ^ "History of Football - The Global Growth". FIFA Official Website. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Groves leads the droves to Villa". London: The Independent. 24 January 1998. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Proud, Keith (18 August 2008). "The player with the Common touch". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World record football transfer fees". BBC. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Arsenal honour Thierry Henry, Tony Adams & Herbert Chapman". BBC. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Flanagan, Chris (4 September 2013). "How 13 other world record transfers panned out". Four Four Two. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Turnbull, Simon; Nixon, Alan (30 July 1996). "Shearer goes home for pounds 15m". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ronaldo signs up for Inter". London: The Independent. 21 June 1997. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Longmore, Andrew (7 June 1998). "Denilson The Menacing". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Whyte, Derrick (9 June 1999). "Inter's pounds 28m swap deal for Lazio's Vieri". London: The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Agnew, Paddy (12 July 2000). "Crespo to join Lazio in record £36m transfer". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "When transfers go mad". BBC. 12 July 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Figo's the Real deal". BBC. 24 July 2000. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Jo Bath, Richard F Stevenson. (2013). "The Newcastle Book of Days". p. 31. The History Press
  15. ^ Taylor, Matthew (2005). The Leaguers: The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900-1939. p. 42. 
  16. ^ "A £2,000 Transfer". Derby Daily Telegraph ( 
  17. ^ "Important transfer". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser ( 
  18. ^ Mortimer, Gavin (2012). A History of Football in 100 Objects. 
  19. ^ {{cite book|url=}
  20. ^ Landmark £1m fee for Francis was no big deal for Clough
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "The History of the World Transfer Record". BBC News. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Barnes, Stuart (2007). News of the World Football Annual 2007/2008. Invincible Press.  
  23. ^ "Factbox - Evolution of world record transfer deals since 1893". Reuters. Retrieved 2 May 2014
  24. ^ Hughes, Rob (30 July 1996). "Newcastle United Pays Record $23 Million for Sheare".  
  25. ^ "World Cup winner Denilson on trial at Bolton Wanderers".  
  26. ^ Ash, Russell (2004). Top Ten of Everything 2005.  
  27. ^ a b c d "Real tipped to land Kaka for £56m".  
  28. ^ "Zidane al Real". Juventus FC (in Italian). 9 July 2001. Archived from the original on 6 August 2001. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  29. ^ "Reports and Financial Statement at 30 June 2002" (PDF). Juventus FC. 20 September 2002. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Wilson, Jeremy (7 June 2009). "Real Madrid to confirm world record £56m signing of Kaka". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 Feb 2015. 
  31. ^ "Kaká completes Madrid switch".  
  32. ^ "Ronaldo agrees six-year Real deal".  
  33. ^ Wilson, Steve (12 June 2009). "Cristiano Ronaldo transfer: Q&A of £80m deal between Real Madrid and Manchester United". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  34. ^ Other sources:
    • "Real Madrid confirm Gareth Bale signing in reported €100m deal". The Guardian. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • Pitt-Brooke, Jack (1 September 2013). "Gareth Bale finally moves from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 'record' £86m transfer". London: The Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • Ashton, Neil; Jenson, Pete (1 September 2013). "Bale is the Real deal! Madrid move finally confirmed as Spanish giants announce £86m world-record signing of Spurs winger". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • "Gareth Bale completes move from Spurs to Real Madrid". Sky Sports. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • Wilson, Jeremy (1 September 2013). "Gareth Bale joins Real Madrid from Tottenham for a world record fee of £86m". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • "Gareth Bale joins Real Madrid from Spurs in £85m world record deal". BBC Sport. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • McMahon, Bobby (25 September 2013). "Deloitte: European football clubs with Middle East based ownership are the highest net spenders on players’ transfers". Deloitte. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • McMahon, Bobby (2 September 2013). "How Real Madrid And Spurs Spent Nearly $400M on New Players But Will Boost Their Bottom Lines Nonetheless". Forbes. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • """Real Madrid tell CR7: "You're still the most expensive player ever. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
    • "Real Madrid deny Gareth Bale has back problem after Marca report". The Guardian. 12 October 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "Convert ITL to GBP on 9 July 2001". Historic Exchange Rates. "" Paris, France. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  36. ^ "Gareth Bale transfer: Real Madrid confirm signing in reported €100m deal".  
  37. ^ "Bale completes Real Madrid move".  
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