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The 10 most expensive British transfers ever

Jack Grealish, most expensive British transfer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jack Grealish has become the most expensive British transfer in football history after joining Manchester City from Aston Villa for £100 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.

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10. Rodri (Machester City, 2014) - £63m

Rodri, most expensive British transfers

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Not from Wales, somehow, Spanish defensive midfielder Rodri arrived from Atletico in 2019.

He's hardly set the world alight since joining Man City – though those in his position rarely do – but he did nab the winner in the 2020 League Cup Final against Aston Villa. He has been a near ever-present for Guardiola, missing just eight league games in his first two seasons in Manchester, the second of which ended with a Premier League title.

9. Kai Havertz (Chelsea, 2020) - £70m

Most expensive British signing

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German attacking midfielder Havertz was considered a generational talent at boyhood Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored 46 goals in 150 appearances for the German side before the age of 21.

Those stellar performances prompted Frank Lampard's Chelsea to spend big last summer, as they pipped a number of Europe's elite club's to the wunderkind's signature. 

After a rocky start in West London - Havertz struggled to nail down a position in Lampard's best XI before contracting Coronavirus before Christmas - he has developed into a key player under Thomas Tuchel. Now 22, Havertz has already secured cult status at Stamford Bridge after scoring the winning goal in this year's Champions League final against Manchester City. 

8. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea, 2018) - £71.6m

Most expensive British signing

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Money not so well spent. Kepa was signed from Athletic Bilbao for a whopping fee in 2018, and had the unenviable task of becoming Petr Cech's long-term successor at Stamford Bridge. While few players could live up to the Czech's legend in West London, it's fair to say Kepa has done a worse job than anyone could have imagined. 

After a decent start, the Blues stopper had one of the lowest save conversion rates in his second season and is now deputy to new arrival Edouard Mendy - signed by Frank Lampard as an emergency replacement for Kepa at the beginning of last season. He has made just 14 appearances for the club in the past year; mostly in the cups. 

Sadly, Kepa's most memorable moment in a Chelsea shirt might be his embarrassing clash with manager Maurizio Sarri after refusing to be substituted in the 2019 League Cup final. It was all downhill from there.

7. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal, 2018) - £72m

Most expensive British signing

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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. The 26-year-old 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. This season could be a breakthrough campaign for the winger. 

6. Jadon Sancho (Man Utd, 2021) - £73m


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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 has moved to Old Trafford in a whopping deal ahead of the new season. He is expected to fill Solskjaer's right-midfield void and fans are licking their lips at seeing the Londoner bring his unique flair and infectious smile to their title charge this season. 

=4. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, 2017) - £75m

most expensive British signing

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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 last season, but is back to full fitness for a new campaign and remains as valuable as ever. 

=4. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd, 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. 

3. Harry Maguire (Man Utd, 2019) - £80m

Most expensive British signing

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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. 

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. Now a lynchpin for his country, and captain of the Red Devils, it would be hard to argue he hasn't been worth the heft sum. 

2. Paul Pogba (Manchester United, 2016) - £89m

most expensive British signings

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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 and his agent, Minot Raiola, has repeatedly sparked rumours - and outrage - with his comments to the media. Yet there is no doubt the World Cup winner is a joy to watch when he's on form. Will he stay at the club beyond the end of his contract next season? Solskjaer will be desperate to solve that mystery in the months ahead. 

1. Jack Grealish (Manchester City, 2021) - £100m

Grealish arrives 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.

If Grealish's time at City doesn't end with an embarrassment of medals, this move will be considered a failure. But it doesn't seem a likely scenario, does it?

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