Every time the British transfer record has been broken during the Premier League era

Alan Shearer broke the British transfer record twice in the 1990s
Alan Shearer broke the British transfer record twice in the 1990s (Image credit: PA)

The British transfer record was also the world transfer record, 19 out of the first 20 times it was broken.

That's right: Britain has always been where the most expensive players have played their football – and the 21st Century is no different.

Let's look back at the most eye-bogglingly valuable men the Premier League has seen in just over three decades…

The current British transfer record: Moises Caicedo, £115m – August 2023 (Brighton to Chelsea)

Moises Caicedo in action for Chelsea against Tottenham in November 2023.

Moises Caicedo in action for Chelsea  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Because Enzo needed a partner. Add in the £50m-odd Romeo Lavia and Chelsea have a midfield that costs, well, more than FFT can add on fingers and thumbs combined.

The Ecuadorian struggled on his debut but in a patchy Chelsea side, no one has been outstanding all of the time. It'll take a while – probably until the record's broken again. Probably by the Blues. 

Enz Fernandez, £106.8m – January 2023 (Benfica to Chelsea)

Enzo Fernandez of Argentina celebrates after scoring their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.

Enzo Fernandez of Argentina celebrates after scoring (Image credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In June 2022, Benfica signed Enzo Fernandez for a fee that, including add ons, totalled just shy of £16 million. For a player born in January 2001, that would not be enough to break the British transfer record at any point in the Argentine's life.

Just seven months later, a Todd Boehly-powered spending spree at Chelsea saw £90m added onto that valuation, and a signing that came in just under the wire on January 2023's transfer deadline day brought the now-World Cup winner to Stamford Bridge.

Jack Grealish, £100m – August 2021 (Aston Villa to Manchester City)

Manchester City midfielder Jack Grealish holding a shirt printed with his name and number in the club shop

Manchester City midfielder Jack Grealish holding a shirt printed with his name and number in the club shop (Image credit: Getty)

A five-year gap since the previous record-breaking British transfer, Jack Grealish's move to Manchester City felt old fashioned – a boy wrenched from his childhood club by an extravagant amount of riches and the promise of silverware galore.

It seemed to end on amicable terms, with Aston Villa happy with a plumped up transfer budget and Grealish happy with the opportunity show how good he can be in a team full of superstars.

Paul Pogba, £89m – July 2016 (Juventus to Manchester United)

Paul Pogba of Manchester United poses after signing for the club at Aon Training Complex on August 8, 2016 in Manchester, England.

Paul Pogba of Manchester United poses after signing for Manchester United (Image credit: Manchester United via Getty Images)

A slightly embarrassing sum of money to pay for someone who had been on your books just four years earlier and was allowed to depart for free.

But Pogba had become one of the world's best box-to-box midfielders during his spell at Juventus, and there was a sense that his signing could be a turning point in Manchester United's post-Ferguson slump.

While it has never reached those heights, United did win the Europa League in Pogba's first season with the club.

Fernando Torres, £50m – January 2011 (Liverpool to Chelsea)

Carlo Ancelotti and Fernando Torres at his Chelsea unveiling

Carlo Ancelotti and Fernando Torres at his Chelsea unveiling (Image credit: Getty)

A deadline day shock gave a rare outing to a transfer record signing happening in January.

Torres' star was already on the wane in Merseyside, though that was scant consolation at the time to unhappy Reds who saw £35m of this fee immediately splurged on Andy Carroll. 

The Spanish striker failed to live up to the price tag in west London – bar scoring the goal that took Chelsea to their first Champions League final in 2012. Worth it, then? Yeah, probably.

Robinho, £32.5m – September 2008 (Real Madrid to Manchester City)

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 28: Robinho of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at The City of Manchester Stadium on January 28, 2009 in Manchester, England.

Robinho of Manchester City (Image credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Possibly the most shocking transfer in Premier League history, on the sheer scale of "WTF"-ness, at least.

Real Madrid's Brazilian star striker – who had been handed the hallowed No.10 shirt, no less – looked destined for a late window move to moneybags Chelsea. He clearly thought so: he even mentioned how pleased he was to join Chelsea in his first City press conference.

But then Abu Dhabi Investment Group bought Manchester City and, the very same day, landed Robinho's signature right from under Roman Abramovich's nose.

He didn't quite live up to expectations, however, and left for Santos 18 months later.

Andriy Shevchenko, £30.6m – July 2006 (AC Milan to Chelsea)

Andriy Shevchenko rues a missed chance at Chelsea

Andriy Shevchenko rues a missed chance at Chelsea (Image credit: PA)

Andriy Shevchenko was one of the greatest strikers in the world. At AC Milan, he won  the Serie A, the Champions League, the 2004 Ballon d'Or and had become the Rossoneri's second all-time leading goalscorer.

At 29, he was no spring chicken, but there was no indication he was past it either: the previous season, he had racked up 29 goals in 40 goals for Milan. 

Chelsea's record with big-money strikers has been shaky, however, and Shevchenko ended his first season in England with just four Premier League goals. 

Two years later, he was back on loan at Milan.

Rio Ferdinand, £29.1m – July 2002 (Leeds to Manchester United)

Rio Ferdinand and Alex Ferguson at the defender's Manchester United unveiling

Rio Ferdinand and Alex Ferguson at the defender's Manchester United unveiling (Image credit: PA)

This was the second time Ferdinand broke both the British transfer record and the record for most expensive defender ever – but boy, was it worth it.

Six Premier League titles and a Champions League win in over 450 appearances for United made Ferdinand a bonafide Old Trafford legend. His centre-back partnership with Nemanja Vidic is still pined after as the building blocks of one of the all-time great Manchester United sides.

Juan Sebastian Veron, £28.1m – July 2001 (Lazio to Manchester United)

Juan Sebastian Veron, Manchester United

Juan Sebastian Veron, Manchester United (Image credit: Getty)

Veron's spell in Manchester was not an unmitigated success, despite Alex Ferguson's famous riposte that anyone who doubted his midfielder was a "f*cking idiot".

The man himself told FourFourTwo in 2021 that his time in England "wasn’t the best" and he wasn't prepared for the intensity of the games. He was shipped off the newly-minted Chelsea for almost half the price after two years.

Ruud van Nistelrooy, £19m – April 2001 (PSV to Manchester United)

Ruud van Nistelrooy with Alex Ferguson at his Manchester United unveiling

Ruud van Nistelrooy with Alex Ferguson at his Manchester United unveiling (Image credit: Getty Images)

Van Nistelrooy had almost joined Manchester United for a similar amount a year earlier, but a cruciate injury put paid to that.

While he did the job they paid the money for – scoring an absolute bagful of goals (150 in 219 appearances, if you're counting) – his reticence to do anything other than score an absolute bagful of goals may have come at the expense of the team. In an unusual barren spell for them under Ferguson, United collected just one Premier League trophy during the Dutchman's five-year stint.

Rio Ferdinand, £18m – November 2000 (West Ham to Leeds)

Rio Ferdinand celebrates scoring for Leeds against Liverpool

Rio Ferdinand celebrates scoring for Leeds against Liverpool (Image credit: Getty Images)

A world record for a defender at the time, Ferdinand didn't disappoint at Leeds. He was an integral part of the team as they reached the Champions League semi-finals, and came back for his second season as club captain.

The free-spending approach meant that they had to cash in on their assets sharpish, however – but at least Ferdinand's value increased dramatically during his short stay.

Alan Shearer, £15m – July 1996 (Blackburn to Newcastle)

Alan Shearer celebrates scoring for Newcastle

Alan Shearer celebrates scoring for Newcastle (Image credit: PA Images)

A world record, no less. Alan Shearer's unveiling in Tyneside was greeted like the return of a Geordie messiah, and the enormous fee was seen as a positive rather than unwanted baggage. Newcastle fans would gladly have paid twice as much to see the homegrown talent score goals at St. James' Park.

While no silverware followed, Shearer's one-armed celebration was seen over 200 times in 10 years at Newcastle (that's an average of more than 20 a season, boffins), as he became the Premier League's highest-ever goalscorer – a feat that stands to this day.

Stan Collymore, £8.5m – June 1995 (Nottingham Forest to Liverpool)

Stan Collymore scoring for Liverpool against Newcastle

Stan Collymore scoring for Liverpool against Newcastle (Image credit: PA Images)

A busy year for British transfer records, Collymore was the man who ended 1995 in pole position as far as fees were concerned. 

The striker quickly struck up a partnership with a young Robbie Fowler, and the two notched up an impressive 55 goals between them in 1995/96.

By the end of the following season, however, there was an even younger, newer striker making his name at Anfield, and a teenager by the name of Michael Owen displaced Collymore up front.

Dennis Bergkamp, £7.5m – June 1995 (Inter Milan to Arsenal)

Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal

Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal (Image credit: PA)

Bruce Rioch's first signing as Arsenal boss was a bit of a risky one, coming in a full £5m more than the Gunners' previous record signing and after a disappointing season in Italy that saw just three Serie A goals.

It didn't turn out too badly in north London, though: he picked up three Premier League titles and four FA Cups in 11 seasons with Arsenal. Oh, and they liked him so much they built a statue of him outside their new ground. Money well spent.

Andy Cole, £7m – January 1995 (Newcastle to Manchester United)

Manchester United's Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole celebrate with the Premier League trophy

Manchester United's Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole celebrate with the Premier League trophy (Image credit: PA Images)

Back when transfers could come right out of the blue and onto your unsuspecting Teletext page, this was a real shock.

Cole had clocked up a none-too-shabby 34 goals in ambitious Newcastle's first Premier League season the year before, and Kevin Keegan had to justify his decision to furious fans outside St James' Park.

It all went pretty swimmingly from Man United's point of view, however: Cole scored 121 goals in six years in Manchester, and struck up a fruitful strike partnership with Dwight Yorke that meant he had five Premier League winners medals, two FA Cups and a Champions League before he moved onto pastures new.

Chris Sutton, £5m – July 1994 (Norwich to Blackburn)

Chris Sutton celebrates scoring for Blackburn Rovers against Liverpool

Chris Sutton celebrates scoring for Blackburn Rovers against Liverpool (Image credit: Getty Images)

Blackburn capitalised on the fact that Norwich had slipped from title challengers in 1992/93 to 12th in 1993/94 by slapping a fat wad of metaphorical cash on the table and demanding the Canaries' best player in their own bid to disrupt Manchester United's domestic dominance.

And oh boy, did it work.

Sutton teamed up with Alan Shearer to form a terrifying partnership known in tabloids across the land as 'SAS' ('Shearer And Sutton', if you're struggling). The two of them scored 49 league goals between them in that first season to secure Rovers' first title win since 1914.

While the good times didn't last, Sutton was the Premier League top scorer in 1997/98, though missed much of the following season through injury as Blackburn were relegated.

Roy Keane, £3.75m – July 1993 (Nottingham Forest to Manchester United)

Manchester United's Bryan Robson, Mike Phelan and Roy Keane

Manchester United's Bryan Robson, Mike Phelan and Roy Keane (Image credit: Getty)

It would have been Blackburn who once again set the record with this very transfer (and at a rumoured higher fee of £4m) had it not been for the office with the fax machine in it to be locked up before they could finalise the deal on a Friday evening.

Instead, wiley Alex Ferguson managed to capitalise on the east Lancastrians' strict adherence to weekends off, and land Roy Keane's signature by Monday morning.

The tenacious Irish midfielder went on to play for United 480 times over the next 12 years, many of them as captain, collecting 12 trophies along the way.

Alan Shearer, £3.6m – July 1992 (Southampton to Blackburn)

Blackburn's Alan Shearer

Blackburn's Alan Shearer (Image credit: Getty)

Blackburn Rovers had what seemed like a limitless bank account in the early 1990s, having been taken over by local lad and steel magnate millionaire Jack Walker.

Having landed Kenny Dalglish as manager despite being in the second flight, they booked their place in the inaugural Premier League season through the play-offs, then immediately showed they meant business by splashing out £3.6m on Southampton wonderkid Alan Shearer, then 21.

Shearer scored against Crystal Palace on the opening day. It was a feeling Blackburn fans would get used to: he scored 129 more times during his career in the north west.

He scored more than 30 Premier League goals for three seasons running – an unmatched feat to this day – and powered the Rovers to the title in 1995, before leaving for a world record fee a year later.

Not a bad bit of business, all told.

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