There is big money in Football (Soccer) and in the last few years there have been some very eye-watering transfer fees. While some point to the outrageous fees paid for the services of overpaid prima donnas, others suggest that we are entering a new golden age of the sport with some serious talent currently active in the world game. Here is a list of ten of the most noteworthy transfers through the history of the sport. They will be measured in British pounds as has been international tradition.
1. Giuseppe Savoldi to Napoli
Though in England the first Ã‚£1 million footballer is considered to be Trevor Francis’ move to Nottingham Forest in 1979, the Italian Serie A was not as popular or as well-known in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most people are not aware that it is in fact Savoldi who first broke the transfer fee beyond seven figures (roughly $1.64 million (US) or Ã¢’š¬1.2 million) in 1975. The move was a domestic transfer from Bologna to Napoli and was not widely publicised until years later.
2. Gareth Bale to Real Madrid
The current world record involves the transfer of the Welsh international from his previous club Tottenham Hotspur to the Spanish giants. The fee set in the summer of 2013 was breath-taking at Ã‚£86 million ($141.1 million (US) or Ã¢’š¬103.8 million). Bale is still only 24 years old so has at least ten years ahead of him at the top of his game. Will he command an even higher fee if he ever moves on from the Spanish capital? Where might he go after that? One thing is for sure, Bale is already making his mark as amongst the greatest Welsh players of all time.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid
Tensions were high due at his previous club Manchester United when he was accused of deliberately getting Wayne Rooney sent off at the 2006 World Cup in a match between England and Portugal. However, the pair would put their differences aside and he would stay in Manchester for another three years and would finally be sold to Real Madrid for Ã‚£80 million, something that Sir Alex Ferguson had agreed to. Prior to summer of 2013, this was the previous world record transfer fee.
4. Fernando Torres to Chelsea
The English top tier has seen many world transfer fee records over the years, even if no club presently holds the record. Fernando Torres shock move from Liverpool to London to play for Chelsea is currently the largest domestic English Premier League transfer at Ã‚£50 million. Liverpool would use the money to part-fund the captures of Any Carroll from Newcastle (Ã‚£35 million) and Luis Suarez from Ajax (Ã‚£22.8 million). Torres career at Chelsea has so far been uneventful and in the summer of 2013, returning manager JosÃƒ© Mourinho stated that Torres was not worth the fee.
5. Jozy Altidore to Villareal
In the middle of the big money paid for European and South American players, we must remember that on the fringes are up and coming countries such as the USA who are also producing some top quality players. There are really only a handful of household names amongst the Americans presently playing on the world stage. To date, the most expensive American player transfer was of this player from New York Red Bulls to Villareal of Spain in 2011. He was valued at Ã‚£6.1 million or $10 million (US). He currently plays for Sunderland in the English Premier League but this fee was undisclosed (never made public).
6. Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich
The top leagues in Europe are England, Italy, Spain and Germany. The German Bundesliege is a strong competition but it perhaps doesn’t get as much coverage compared to the other three. Bundesliege’s biggest domestic transfer presently stands at Ã‚£31.5 million when Gotze moved from Borussia Dortmund in 2009. Not only that, but for a short while he also held the most expensive fee ever paid for a German player; that was until Mesut Ãƒ’“zil moved to English side Arsenal later in the year.
7. Hernan Crespo to Lazio
One of the most prestigious leagues in the world, the Italian Serie A has fans all over the world with big name teams and players who are household names even amongst the most casual football fans. The Argentine Hernan Crespo holds the record for Italy’s biggest domestic transfer which stands at Ã‚£36 million and took place when he moved from Parma to Lazio in 2000. He would go on to play for both Inter and AC Milan, Chelsea and finish his career back with Parma. He retired in 2012.
8. BernabÃƒ© Ferreyra to River Plate
With today’s transfer fees seemingly on an upward spiral and getting bigger every day, not long tends to pass before the previous world record is superseded by the next. Usually, it is no more than a couple of years at the very most. This transfer, though only Ã‚£23,000 in today’s money is noteworthy because it is the longest standing world record transfer fee. It remained in place for a massive 17 years between 1932 and 1949 and it was a domestic transfer in Argentina when Ferreyra moved from Tigre to River Plate.
9. Nigel Martyn to Crystal Palace and Leeds United
Record fees for goalkeepers have been considerably slower to rise than their up-field team mates. The first goalkeeper to break the Ã‚£1 million mark did not come arrive 1989 and the man who held that record was also the first goalkeeper to command a Ã‚£2 million price tag ‘ former England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn. He moved in 1989 to Crystal Palace and seven years later set the higher price tag when he moved to Leeds United.
10. Gianluigi Buffon to Juventus
These days, clubs are more than happy to splash out on the last line of defence ‘ the importance of the goalkeeper can never be overstated. Good positioning, calm under pressure and the ability to stop ferocious shots can mean the difference between victory and defeat. When Buffon moved from Parma to Juventus, the Ã‚£38 million price tag was met with shock. The record still stands twelve years later and Buffon is widely considered the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
Whether we feel the sort of money traded for transfer of services of sporting figures is justified or not, or whether the money would be best put to other uses, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that football ‘ largely referred to as ‘The Beautiful Game’ ‘ gives untold pleasure to millions. Third World Countries adore their heroes and always feel proud when one of their countrymen reaches global fame.