The biggest transfer moves in football history

It's been a couple of years since we ran an article about the world's most expensive transfers and now with the Saudi League now spending considerable fees let's see if we have new expensive moves to list. These moves not only have a significant impact on the teams involved but also capture the imagination of fans worldwide. So let's take a closer look at some of the biggest movements in football history that you should know about.

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Kylian Mbappé's transfer to Paris Saint-Germain (2017)

Kylian Mbappé's move from AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 on loan with an obligation to buy was one of the most high-profile transfers of the decade. The French forward's incredible speed and skill made him an instant sensation.

His permanent transfer for €180 million in 2018 established him as one of the most expensive players in history. With Mbappe solely having the spotlight on him in PSG, it’s expected that he’ll perform extremely well. With that said, you can click here and see how the odds stack up to PSG this time.

Zinedine Zidane goes to Real Madrid (2001)

In 2001, Zinedine Zidane moved from Juventus to Real Madrid for a then-world record transfer fee of €77 million. Zidane went on to become one of the most iconic figures in the history of Real Madrid and played a crucial role in their success during the early 2000s, winning numerous titles, including the UEFA Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo joins Saudi Arabia club Al Nassr (2022)

Cristiano Ronaldo's journey to Manchester United in 2003 is a story in itself. However, in 2022, Ronaldo moved to Saudi Arabia and joined Al Nassr. His deal is one of the biggest in football history, with a guaranteed $75 million per year. Through the club’s commercial agreements, that figure catapulted to a whopping $200 million per year. He’s set to play for Al Nassr until 2025.

Pelé goes to the New York Cosmos (1975)

One of the most legendary footballers of all time, Pelé, made a shocking move. In 1975, he transferred to the New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League (NASL). This transfer was not only a massive financial deal but also a landmark moment for the global expansion of football. Pelé's presence in the U.S. helped popularise the sport and paved the way for future international stars to play in the United States.

Diego Maradona's transfer to Napoli (1984)

Diego Maradona's transfer to Napoli in 1984 was a game-changer for Italian football. Maradona, often regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, led Napoli to their first Serie A titles and became a hero in the city. This move showcased the transformative power of a single player in elevating a club's status and fortunes.

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Neymar joining Paris Saint-Germain (2017)

In 2017, Neymar's move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a staggering €222 million set a new world record for the highest transfer fee. This transfer not only shook the footballing world but also reshaped the balance of power in European football. Neymar's arrival at PSG signified the club's ambition to compete at the highest level.

Lionel Messi jumps to Paris Saint-Germain (2021)

Lionel Messi's transfer from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 was a historic moment in football. After spending his entire professional career at Barcelona, financial constraints forced Messi to seek a new club. His move to PSG reunited him with former teammate Neymar and showcased the ever-evolving dynamics of the football transfer market.

Thierry Henry's move to Arsenal (1999)

Thierry Henry's transfer to Arsenal in 1999 was a transformative moment for both the player and the club. Henry became an Arsenal legend, setting numerous records and helping the club win two Premier League titles. His elegant style of play and prolific goal-scoring left an indelible mark on English football.

Gareth Bale's transfer to Real Madrid (2013)

Gareth Bale's move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013 became a world-record transfer at that time, with a fee reported to be around £85 million. Bale's performances in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League cemented his status as one of the top wingers in the world, and he played a key role in Real Madrid's continued success.

Lionel Messi going to Inter Miami in MLS (2023)

The most recent and of the biggest movements in football history involves one of the greatest to ever play: Lionel Messi. Formerly from PSG or Paris Saint-Germain, Messi parts ways with other superstars such as Mbappe and Neymar. With a $60 million per year salary, Lionel Messi’s deal with Inter Miami puts him on par with other higher-paid athletes such as the NBA’s Nikola Jokic and NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

Neymar suiting up for Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia (2023)

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, simply known as “Neymar,” will also be parting ways with PSG in favour of Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia. Known for his dazzling skills on the field, the deal between Neymar and Al Hilal is one of the most lucrative in all of sports.

A few details of Neymar’s contract involve Al-Hilal giving him a mansion with 25+ rooms, a private jet, 9 supercars, and several saunas. He’s also going to be paid $86 million per game won and $536,720 for every social media post he makes that promotes Saudi Arabia. Truly remarkable.


These monumental transfers have not only rewritten the record books but have also left an indelible mark on the history of football. They demonstrate the sport's global appeal, the economic power of top clubs, and the enduring fascination with the world's best players. As football continues to evolve, we can only wonder what the future holds for the next generation of footballing superstars and the epic transfers they may bring.