Ranked! The 10 most expensive British transfers ever
Enzo Fernandez has become the most expensive British transfer of all time following his £107m move to Chelsea – these are who he beat to top spot
Enzo Fernandez has become the most expensive British transfer in football history after joining Chelsea from Benfica for £107 million.
With a great price tag comes great responsibility - but it doesn't mean it always works out. Some of the most expensive transfers in Premier League history were flops. Here, we've listed the top 10 all-time most expensive British transfers and explained how things went for the man in question.
Just to be clear: these are the British record transfers, but they don't have to be British players; merely the highest fees paid for any player by a British club.
10. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal, 2018) - £72m
Arsenal snapped-up Ivorian Pepe after a stellar season at French club Lille, in which he scored 22 league goals in 28 appearances.
He has yet to produce the same kind of form, however, with just 18 arriving over the past two season in North London. He has also had number of disciplinary issues, leading for some fans to demand he is sold at a loss.
Yet Pepe has showed his quality in flashes, and boasts the speed, footwork and composure of a top Premier League player. Regardless, Arteta shipped him out on loan to Nice at the beginning of the 2022/23 season, and there seemingly is no way back for the Ivorian at the Emirates now.
9. Jadon Sancho (Man Utd, 2021) - £73m
The poster boy for moving abroad in order to further a career. Many thought Sancho was making a huge error when he left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but it proved an absolute masterstroke.
After 50 goals and 64 assists for the Bundesliga giants, England regular Sancho moved to Old Trafford in a whopping deal with plenty of expectation. He has failed to live up to the hype thus far unfortunately, but Erik ten Hag will no doubt work hard to help Sancho rediscover unique flair and infectious smile to United's squad once again.
=8. Wesley Fofana (Chelsea) - £75m
Voted Leicester City's Young Player of the Season for the 2020/21 campaign, his first in English football, Fofana continued to excel at the King Power Stadium before Chelsea came knocking in the summer of 2022.
Still in his early 20s, Fofana showed plenty of promise at Leicester that he has failed to replicate at Chelsea thus far - at the time of writing, he has appeared just six times for the Blues due to suffering a severe knee injury, which is hampering his progress in the team.
=8. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, 2017) - £75m
The man that made it all possible. Liverpool fans knew the club were getting serious about winning a first Premier League title in over 30 year when Dutch powerhouse van Dijk was recruited from Southampton in 2017.
Tall, strong, elegant, an excellent reader of the game and composed in possession, the defender had proven himself to be the best defender in the Premier League for a bang average Saints side and remains so at Anfield.
His rock solid performances helped the club to a Champions League crown in 2019, before a league title in 2020. He missed nearly all of last season and Euro 2020 after damaging knee ligaments early in the 2020/21 season, but made a full recovery to help Liverpool to two trophies in 2022.
=8. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United, 2017) - £75m
Belgian marksman Lukaku became the second most expensive British transfer ever when he swapped Goodison Park for Old Trafford in the summer of 2017.
Jose Mourinho had demanded a world-class striker to replace the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he certainly got that. Lukaku had proven himself to be a goal-machine during spells at Everton and West Brom, and he kept up his impressive record at Old Trafford over a two-year spell. Forty-two goals in 96 appearances helped United to a second-place finish in 2017/18 but couldn't prevent Mourinho's sacking and sixth-place collapse the following season.
Not to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tastes, Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan in 2019, and was the driving force in their first Scudetto in over a decade last season.
7. Harry Maguire (Manchester United, 2019) - £80m
Old Slabhead might not have been blessed with the pace of Rio Ferdinand or the aggression of Nemanja Vidic, but few would argue against him being the best defender Manchester United have had since the pair left the club almost a decade ago - that is, until the arrivals of Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
Maguire's composure in possession and aerial ability were already clear during Hull City's relegation campaign of 2016/7, prompting Leicester to sign him for a bargain £12m the following summer. It was at the King Power that Maguire morphed into one of the best defenders in Europe, making up for his lack of pace with powerful and composed performances at the heart of defence.
While a lynchpin for his country, and captain of the Red Devils, Maguire's future at Manchester United seems uncertain as he struggles for minutes under Erik ten Hag.
6. Antony (Manchester United, 2022) - £85m
Manchester United were chasing Antony for months before finally tying him down to a contract, Ajax playing hardball over the cost of their Brazilian winger. Eventually the fee stood at £80.75m, with £4.25m available in add-ons.
He's yet to prove his full worth for Erik ten Hag and Manchester United currently, but is showing glimpses of his undoubted quality each week. Still in his early 20s, Antony certainly has plenty of potential to grow. A goal on his debut against Arsenal will undoubtedly have helped.
5. Mykhalo Mudryk (Chelsea, 2023) - £88.5m
Perhaps the greatest transfer steal in history, Arsenal looked in pole position to sign Mudryk in the January 2023 window. That is, until Chelsea nipped in and blew them out the water with a much-improved offer.
Mudryk initially cost Chelsea £62m, with a further £26.5m added to his figure by Shakhtar Donetsk through very achievable add-ons and clauses in his seven-and-a-half year contract.
4. Paul Pogba (Manchester United, 2016) - £89m
Pogba's arrival at Old Trafford in 2016 remains arguably the most galactico moment in Premier League history.
The Frenchman had turned his back on United's academy to join Juventus as a 19-year-old. In Turin, he quickly evolved into one of the most coveted box-to-box midfielders in Europe. His flair, eye for a pass and bankability made him an obvious fit at Old Trafford, and the Premier League giants made the difficult decision to buy their former player back for a world record fee in 2016.
It hasn't always been plain sailing. Pogba repeatedly clashed with Jose Mourinho, while rumours were abound for years about his impending exit from the club. Finally, he left in the summer of 2022, re-joining Juventus - for free - once again.
3. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, 2021) - £97.5m
Lukaku re-joined Chelsea for a massive fee in the summer of 2021, after two superb years in Italy with Inter Milan, but the Belgian struggled to live up to the price tag and eventually moved back to Inter on a season-long loan.
Mid-season grumblings certainly didn't help his cause, while interviews conducted to Italian media ensured former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel left him out of squads, seeing Lukaku tumble down the pecking order.
The £97.5m fee fell just short of the British transfer record, but made the striker the player with the largest total transfer value of all time, as a combined £290m has been spent on him by various clubs over the years.
2. Jack Grealish (Manchester City, 2021) - £100m
Grealish arrived in Manchester after a summer in which he was possibly England's most adored player en route to the Euro 2020 final, even though he only made one start during the tournament.
Having appeared close to signing for rivals Manchester United in the past, there will be no sense that he has joined for the love of the club – a heartfelt letter to Villa fans upon his departure shows where his affections lie – but a determination to win trophies.
While he initially struggled to adapt to Pep Guardiola's methods, Grealish has now started playing back to his best. He has already added medals to his collection, too, with more likely on the way.
1. Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea, 2023) - £107m
After a drawn out transfer saga in the January 2023 window, Chelsea eventually met Benfica's £107m release clause inserted into Fernandez's contract, ensuring he would move to Stamford Bridge just six months after joining the Portuguese giants for less than £15m from River Plate.
He excelled at the World Cup with Argentina, though, winning the tournament and the Young Player award, too. Chelsea's midfield has become stale in recent months, and Fernandez could be the catalyst to reshape their fortunes.
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Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.
- Ryan DabbsStaff writer
By Ryan Dabbs