Teams just don’t spend money on defenders and goalkeepers like they used to, but strikers continue to rise in stock price as we learn from the list of most expensive soccer players of all time by position, with recent transfers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the fresh fresh Edinson Cavani leading the ranks of the forwards, and Real Madrid in general dominating throughout the last 13 years in all positions.
What we learn from this list? A) Despite the affluence in the English Premier League, they’re not too hellbent on breaking transfer records, at least global ones. B) Juventus spent a lot of money to start winning championships again in 2001. C) No matter the age, Real Madrid almost always spend more than anyone.
Goalkeeper – Gianluigi Buffon
At 35, Gianluigi Buffon is still the starting goalkeeper for Italy with 133 caps for the national side, and obviously for Juventus, where he has been since July 2001. He was signed from Parma for €54.2 million. It would be worth around €70 million now.
Centre Backs – Rio Ferdinand & Thiago Silva
Rio Ferdinand was signed by Manchester United from Leeds in July 2002 for £34 million, making him the most expensive British footballer in history at the time, and the world’s most expensive defender for a second time (previously set when Leeds signed him from West Ham). The transfer would be worth £43.8 million in 2013.
Thiago Silva is a much more modern case of expensive purchasing, being with PSG for only one season so far. He was signed from AC Milan last summer, in a move that paid off as it helped PSG win the championship for the first time in 19 years. He was purchased for €42 million.
Full Backs – Fabio Coentrão & Lilian Thuram
Lilian Thuram remains the most expensive right back ever signed (his position when he arrived at Juventus in 2001). The World Cup & European champion with France was signed by Juventus in 2001 from Parma for €41.5 million, which would be around €53.8 million in 2013.
The world’s most expensive left back is Fabio Coentrão, who might be considered something of a bust considering his disappointing performances for Real Madrid over the two seasons he’s been there. He was purchased for €30 million in 2011.
Midfield – Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane & Kaka
We’re now travelling into Real Madrid territory, who have signed all three players in their two Galacticos endevors. Figo was the first player among them to sign, joining Real Madrid from Barcelona in 2000, costing €60 million at the time, which translated into €80 million of today’s money. He did help Real Madrid win two league titles and a Champions League trophy.
Zinedine Zidane was next to join the first Galacticos project, with Real Madrid spending €75 million in 2001 to bring over the popular choice for best player in the world to the Santiago Bernabeu. In today’s money, it would be worth €97.3 million. For only one league title and one Champions League trophy, it might be slightly overpaying.
Kaka has to be one of the more expensive disappointments of all-time, as Real Madrid paid AC Milan €65 million in 2009 for the Brazilian, which is around €71.7 million when adjusted for inflation. He has hardly been involved in any important matches since an injury stopped his strong start to the 2009-2010 season, and has been struggling to prove his importance to the team ever since.
Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Edinson Cavani
It’s been four years, and Cristiano Ronaldo remains the most expensive footballer of all-time, as Real Madrid spent €94 million to sign him from Manchester United, which would be around €103.7 million these days. One league title in four years, and no Champions League titles so far still don’t make him a disappointment with more than a goal per game scored since is arrival.
In that same summer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made an outrageous move to Barcelona, although he lasted only one season at the club, not to mention Barcelona also gave up Samuel Eto’o in the deal. Ibrahimovic was signed for €69.5 million at the time, which turns out to be €76.6 million four years later.
Edinson Cavani made it onto the list recently thanks to Radamel Falcao being a slightly cheaper signing by Monaco. The Uruguayan was signed by PSG for €64.5 million from Napoli.