Football is a collective game and to succeed, every team has to be perfectly balanced in all the departments. However, no one could negate the significance of individual brilliance. There might be no one who doesn’t know about the heroics of Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. The self-proclaimed God of Football single-handedly won the tournament for Argentina. Notwithstanding the team was merely average. Therefore, the federation, coach, and club hierarchies always want to have the best possible player in their team. In club football, this scenario is more evident as the clubs need to evolve. So, the ambitious owners, presidents are very much willing to splash the cash to secure the service of the player they want.
The transfer market has changed a lot with each passing generation. Nevertheless, the alteration that has taken place in the last 1 or 2 decades is incomparable with any time in the history of the sport. Once it took many years to break the transfer record. While it has been broken in a regular interval. In some cases, the numbers were sky-high. We are now talking about the most priced footballers and how they have fared the huge sum which has been spent after them.
1. Gareth Bale (Tottenham to Real Madrid, €101M):
The very first time any club has spent more than 100 million after any player is Real Madrid. They previously broke the record of spending the most to sign a particular player many times. For instance, they bought Zidane with record-breaking €75m and in 2009 they broke the bank for Cristiano Ronaldo who cost them €94m. However, it was Bale who became the first €100 million men in football.
Bale added to an already star-studded team with the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema, Di Maria, Casillas to name a few. He justified his price by helping them to win 4 UCL, 4 La Liga, and plenty of other accolades. He scored many important goals including the famous one in the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona, the bicycle kick goal in the UCL final, and Hat trick in the Club World Cup. Though his time at Santiago Bernabeu becomes patchy at the later stages as the relationship with the manager Zidane became toxic. Notwithstanding, Bale perfectly justifies his value and will be remembered as a great in the history of the club.
2. Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, €105m):
One of the best midfielders of this generation, World Cup winner Pogba costs Red Devils more than 100 million though it didn’t seem the figure was excessive. United became a mid-table team after the departure of Sir Alex and it deemed Pogba could turn things away for them. His vibrant lifestyle and unimaginable skills would be helpful for the club both on and off the pitch. Nonetheless, the French star failed to live up to the expectations. In some moments, he showed his unparalleled capabilities with the ball although he will be recalled as a man who spread toxicity in the team. He hasn’t won any major trophies with the club apart from the Europa League and most probably leaves Old Trafford in the next summer.
3. Neymar ( Barcelona to PSG, €222m):
In 2017, Paris St Germain shocked the world after paying the buyout clause of Neymar. The amount was €222m, which is still the record in the transfer window history.
The supremely talented Brazilian superstar was at his best when he was in the Camp Nou. Nevertheless, the desire to come out from the shadow of Messi and the astronomical sum of money offered by the Parisian club tempted him to leave Barcelona. It was a statement signing for Paris St Germain also which wanted to announce their presence. After the accusation by the Qatar Sports Investments, the club’s dream is to win the UCL. They become a domestic king.
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Neymar hasn’t fully fulfilled the desire of the club yet. His off-the-field activity, numerous injuries become a stumbling block on the road to sporting success. On the other hand, he helps the club to globalize a lot. He is still in the club, so the fans might wish to see him at his glittering best.
4. Ousmane Dembele ( Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, €140m):
Barcelona spent no time replacing their prized asset. Neymar left, a void has been created and the club has plenty of cash. Barcelona failed to handle the situation properly. All of a sudden they found French winger Dembele. He was young, skillful, has pace, can dribble and shoot with both feet. Seemed like he was the ideal replacement for Neymar. Therefore, they expressed their desire and Dortmund took the opportunity. They spent just €20m for Ousmane in the previous season and sold him for €115m with plenty of add-ons. In total, the transfer costs Barcelona €140m. Dembele is undoubtedly a skill full player. Still, in no condition, he should be bought more than €100m. So, the transfer was a loss in terms of business in the first place. Then his irregularity, lack of concentration, and various physical issues make life harder both for the player and the club.
He showed a glimpse of his techniques whenever he is fit. But he missed nearly half of his matches due to different crises. His contract is about to end in the upcoming summer which makes things the worst for Barcelona. They spent a humongous sum, haven’t served properly, and are now on the verge of losing the player for nothing.
5. Philippe Coutinho ( Liverpool to Barcelona, €135m):
Barcelona once was a mighty team with many world-class players. However, they’re deteriorating as they failed to replace the potential. In some cases, they might blame luck as things hadn’t gone accordingly. Dembele should give Barcelona more though he couldn’t replace Neymar. The same thing happened with Coutinho too. At Liverpool, he was a Balloon D’or worthy player and seemed like he was the rightful heir of Iniesta. Nonetheless, the actual scenario is far different than expected. His start was bright at Camp Nou but slowly he faded away, couldn’t match the demand from the fans and the team. The club loaned him after one and half-season to Bayern Munich where he won the UCL. He came back in 2020 and tried real hard, this time luck wasn’t with him. Injury-plagued season, the emergence of youngster Pedri and free fall of the form of both the club and player made life miserable for the magical playmaker. Inconsistency in the managerial post didn’t help him either. The club was keen to offload him a couple of times though no party showed eagerness due to his high salary.
Now he is on loan at Aston Villa where he reunites with former pal Steven Gerrard, who is the coach now. Still, it is uncertain what lies in his future. Though a permanent move to villa park may be the most likely solution.