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Chelsea return moves Romelu Lukaku ahead of Neymar as most expensive player ever

Neymar Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea makes him the most expensive footballer ever over the course of his career.

The reported £97.5million fee takes the Belgian’s cumulative transfers to almost £285m, passing Neymar for top spot on the list.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how he compares to the leading group.

The £285m man

Top 10 footballers by cumulative transfer fees

Romelu Lukaku has cost almost £285m in cumulative transfer fees (PA graphic)

The study used fees listed on respected website, which were then converted from euros into sterling using the exchange rate at the time of the move.

Using that method, Lukaku’s initial move to Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht in 2011 is listed at just over £13m, with £3m recouped from Everton as a loan fee before 2014’s permanent move for £28m.

His moves to Manchester United and then on to Inter cost a reported £75m and around £68.3m respectively, with this latest move taking him to £284.8m in cumulative fees.

That is around £8.5m more than Neymar, who joined Barcelona from his hometown club Santos for £75.7m in 2013 and moved on to Paris St Germain four years later for a world-record £200.6m.

The pair are the only £200m players to date, with Cristiano Ronaldo around £2.5m short of that landmark and clear of the field in third place after successive big-money moves to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

Quantity is key

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, left, and Alvaro Morata

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, left, and Alvaro Morata have been involved in numerous big-money moves (Jane Barlow/Adam Davy/PA)

With the exception of Neymar, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, every member of the top 10 has been involved in at least three separate transfers with a fee changing hands.

Alvaro Morata, fourth behind Ronaldo, has moved six times for £15m or more – including a pair of loan fees over that threshold for moves to Atletico Madrid and Juventus – with his near-£58m transfer to Chelsea in 2017 helping him amass career fees of over £164m.

Dembele follows in fifth and Griezmann sixth – they have moved only twice apiece but Barcelona paid nine-figure fees for both of them, and for seventh-placed Philippe Coutinho to account for the bulk of his £141m in fees across four transfers.

Manchester United spent £59.7m on Angel Di Maria and recouped over £44m when the Argentina winger left for PSG, helping him rank ahead of much-travelled strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuain.

Mbappe the long-term threat

Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe joined Paris St Germain for the second-highest fee ever (Martin Rickett/PA)

Outside the top 10, Eden Hazard ranks 11th thanks to his moves to Chelsea and Real Madrid, but just behind him is PSG and France striker Kylian Mbappe, who is perhaps the likeliest player to challenge for top spot in the future.

The 22-year-old moved from Monaco to PSG for the second-highest fee in football history, around £128.25m in 2018 having spent the previous season on loan, and any subsequent move would see him gatecrash the top three places as a minimum.

Both he and Ronaldo have been speculatively linked with moves to Real, possibly this summer, so there could even be further movement at the top end before the window closes.

Atleti’s £114m striker Joao Felix ranks a couple of places behind Mbappe, while Jack Grealish’s £100m move this summer to Manchester City has him on the fringes of the top 20.