Back in 2017, the whole world (of sports and beyond) stood in awe of Brazilian soccer player Neymar leaving Barcelona, one of the most valuable association football clubs in the world, for Paris Saint Germain. This transfer set a world record in being the most expensive ever in soccer – the French club paid €222 million (almost $249 million) for the Brazilian forward – and burst into the list of the top 10 biggest sports contracts in history. It is safe to say that this amount will stay a world record in soccer at least for a few years – but one transfer completed last year came pretty close. Here are the highest association football transfer fees paid by clubs for players in 2018.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable and famous soccer players today. The 34-year-old Portuguese forward has collected numerous accolades during his career – he won five Ballon d’Or awards, he was named the World Soccer Player of the Year five times, he scored the most FIFA Club World Cup final goals (4, a title shared with Leo Messi), and the list could go on and on. At one time, he was the most expensive soccer player in the world – he left Premier League club Manchester United for Real Madrid for a fee of €94 million (about $105 million today), and his record wasn’t broken for four years.
Last year, Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid to continue playing for Italian side Juventus Turin. The Italian club paid €100 million (around $112 million) for him, making it the highest amount ever paid for a soccer player over the age of 30.
2. Philippe Coutinho
When you look at the career of Philippe Coutinho, you will most likely say he was a good investment for Premier League club Liverpool: the team paid £8.5 million (around $12 million) for him in 2013. While with the team, Coutinho flourished, becoming one of the most celebrated players thanks to his dribbling and passing skills, earning the nickname “The Magician”. Last year, he left Liverpool to continue his career with the Spanish soccer club Barcelona in a transfer that reportedly cost somewhere between €120 and €147 million (up to $170 million). Thus, Coutinho became the third most expensive soccer player in the world and the second most expensive player transferred in 2018.
1. Kylian Mbappé
Because the most expensive player to switch teams in 2018 was a teenager: French forward Kylian Mbappé. The youngster made his professional debut in 2015, at the age of 16, and he experienced a meteoric rise ever since. During his first three years of career, he already collected many important accolades. He showed his worth at last year’s FIFA World Cup by becoming the second ever teenager to score in a World Cup final (after Pelé) and the second-highest goalscorer of the tournament. With his transfer from Monaco to Paris Saint Germain, Mbappé has become the most expensive teenager and the second most expensive soccer player in history – the Paris-based club reportedly paid €180 million (almost $202 million) for the then-19-year-old player.