Footballers rarely stay put at one club for an extensive period of their career nowadays, inherently accumulating millions and millions in transfer fees each time they elect to jump ship.
Whether in pursuit of a more lucrative contract, a city with better weather or a reunion with a former teammate or manager, most players will succumb to the lure of switching clubs at some point before they choose to hang up their boots.
At the summit of elite football, transfer sums of less than seven digits are virtually extinct. In turn, this means players who fail to settle at a single club rack up huge amounts of money in transfer proceeds over the course of a decade-long career.
Apart from providing a clear-cut overview of the most expensive players football has seen, this list also sheds light on an intriguing convergence of old and new transfer policies in modern football.
The majority of inclusions are pushing or already beyond 30-years-old and have accumulated their overall transfer costs by means of numerous moves between wealthy clubs. However, there’s a handful of other players who’ve made the cut despite only changing clubs three or four times to date.
If it isn’t already clear, this further indicates that clubs are comfortable with splashing fees around the £50m ballpark in order to acquire a player, even those who might not even come close to matching the abilities of the best in the world. This behaviour is likely to continue, and before long, will render many of the players who currently rank among the most expensive in the world well off the pace.
Read on to discover the top 20 most cumulatively expensive players of all-time.
21 Willian – £59.15m
20 Robinho – £59.5m
19 Neymar – £60.34m
18 Edinson Cavani – £60.55m
17 Carlos Tevez – £60.76m
16 Christian Vieri – £61.25m
15 Fernando Torres – £69.65m
14 Ronaldo – £70.68m
13 Robbie Keane – £72.7m
12 Radamel Falcao – £73.03m
11 Kevin De Bruyne – £73.12m
10 Gareth Bale – £76.09m
9 Cristiano Ronaldo – £78.05m
8 Luis Suarez – £81.06m
7 Juan Sebastian Veron – £81.2m
6 Hernan Crespo – £83.49m
4 Nicolas Anelka – £89.15m
3 James Rodriguez – £92.84m
2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic – £118.37m
1 Angel Di Maria – £125.3m
A trio of big-money moves between Real Madrid, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain has pushed Angel Di Maria to the top of this list, overtaking teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his £44.1m switch to the French capital in August 2015. The Argentine previously commanded a £23.1m fee when he joined Real Madrid from Benfica in July 2010, only to move on to Old Trafford for £52.5m four years later. Di Maria showed flashes of brilliance during his Premier League stint, but United opted to cash in on a blockbuster £44.1m offer from the bank-rolled PSG.
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