Every Player Who Cost Over £80m & Deciding if They Were Worth the Money

The transfer market at the very top end is like a world of its own. The fees that are traded back and fourth bring with them a level of pressure that most players can’t cope with, and under which many have been known to crumble.

It takes a certain level of character to move for a eye-bleeding fee and shoulder the responsibility that comes with it; and as such, the big money success stories are relatively few and far between.

We’ve had a look through the 11 transfers in history valued at £80m or more (without considering conditional add-ons, because no) and assessed whether they have been worth the money…or not. 

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid (£82m)

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia

438 games, 450 goals, four Ballons d’Or, four Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles. 

Probably the best signing ever, and though this was a world record fee that stood for almost a decade, he still moved on for a profit. 

Verdict: Worth the Money

Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid (£87m)

Eden Hazard

Arguably the Premier League’s best player when he moved to Real in the summer, his £87m move was seen as something of a coup for ​Los Blancos’ new era, but it hasn’t quite worked out. 

It’s very early days yet, of course, and it would be harsh to label him a flop given it’s fitness and injury issues that have so far limited his game-time. But it certainly doesn’t seem at this stage that he has been worth the investment – he has one goal in over 1,000 minutes of football after all. 

Verdict: Not Worth the Money

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid to Juventus (£87m)

Olympique Lyon v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Oh, him again. 

CR7 left Real after their third successive Champions League win 18 months ago, and though he took his time hitting the ground running at ​Juve, he is now beginning to show his best football. 

He has netted 21 goals in 21 Serie A appearances this season, and his 53 in 74 for Juve (and counting) fall short only of his own massive standards. This deal’s ultimate success might hinge on whether he can finally lead the Old Lady to Champions League glory, but when you combine his increasing influence with the obvious marketing and sponsorship benefits that came along with landing one of the most recognisable stars in sport, it’s hard to label this anything other than a win.

It was as much of a tap-in as you’ll get, but a goal is a goal as they say. 

Verdict: Worth the Money 

Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (£88m)

Gareth Bale

It might not seem like it now, but if his overhead kick that won them the 2018 Champions League was Bale’s only contribution to Los Blancos, that alone would have been worth the fee. 

There was more than that, however. A lot more. 104 goals more. 

Over the piece, his signing was an overwhelming success, as evidenced by his trophy haul and host of individual honours.

Verdict: Worth the Money

Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United (£91m)

Paul Pogba

This one was subject to plenty of debate at 90min. The ​Manchester United fans insisted he was worth the money, the Liverpool fan did not, and no one would concede that anyone is any more biased than anyone else. 

There’s more to consider with this one than it might seem; ​Pogba has failed to live up to the hype, but there are a number of mitigating factors behind that (United being awful the main one) while it is likely he will still be sold on for a profit. 

The way this one plays out will define it, but for now, let’s sit on the fence.

Verdict: Undecided

Ousmane Dembele – Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona (£91m)

UEFA Champions League"FC Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund"

Injuries and reported attitude issues (mostly the former) have really hamstrung the French winger’s development since his big move to Barcelona. He was once thought to be a generational talent and it is still far too early in his career to say definitively that he will not fulfil that, but it’s an equally huge stretch to say he has been a worthwhile investment. 

As things stand, Barca have their work cut out for them to either get their money’s worth, while recouping their fee looks like an even bigger ask. So as things stand…

Verdict: Not Worth the Money

Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (£104m)

Antuan Griezmann,Toni Kroos

When Griezmann was brought into an attack that already featured Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and the aforementioned Dembele, there were some eyebrows raised over how on earth he was going to fit in. Even with two of those three injured, however, we’re still no closer to finding out.

His goal return has been decent enough, if a long way from special, while he has been shifted between the left wing and central positions to such an extent he has been unable to find any sort of rhythm. They may have to clear out to get the best of him, but he turns 30 next year, and in truth, he looks like a shadow of the player they signed. 

Verdict: Not Worth the Money

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (£104m)

Philippe Coutinho

One of the most infamous transfers of all time, this represented a real turning point for Liverpool, but not in the direction many anticipated. 

The fee attained here offset the Reds’ outlay on Virgil van Dijk and left some change for a summer splurge that brought in the game-changing Alisson and Fabinho, so from their perspective it was a worthwhile deal.

For Barcelona? Yeah. He’s currently on loan at Bayern Munich, who apparently don’t want to buy him, and it seems it’s now a case of his parent club ​trying to cut their losses. 

Verdict: Definitely Not Worth the Money

Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid (£110m)

Joao Felix

It’s hard to judge this one with anything but caution given the player is just 20 years old. He’s the heir-apparent to Griezmann, and while he hasn’t quite hit the (huge) heights he managed in Portugal, there have been flashes of his undeniable ability so far. 

Atletico are a sensible club who are showing patience with him. There’s a very strong chance he will come good so this is a long way from a write-off, but for now, the jury is out. 

Verdict: Undecided

Kylian Mbappé – Monaco to PSG (£126m)


A truly inspired signing. 

PSG have had no shortage of criticism for the way they have conducted their transfer business, but they were decisive in securing Mbappe and they have been repaid in kind.

The World Cup winner has racked up an astonishing 90 goals in 119 appearances so far, with 30 of those coming in just 32 games this season. At this rate, if they ever sell him, it will be to double their money; perhaps even more. 

£126m is a lot of money but even that is starting to seem like a steal. 

Verdict: Worth the Money

Neymar – Barcelona to PSG (£193m)

Neymar Jr

The anti-Pogba in many senses. On one hand, 68 goals and 35 assists in 79 games is terrific; on the other, he has only played 79 games…in close to three seasons. 

He has spent so much time on the sidelines with injury and brought no shortage of problems to the club’s door, barely arriving before his desire to return to Catalonia became public knowledge. The signing hasn’t been a failure by any means, but has he been worth close to £200m? I am not convinced. 

Should he win the Champions before he leaves, we’ll be looking at this very differently, granted, so we’ll leave the door slightly ajar for now. 

Verdict: Undecided


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