What's too much money?
Roy Keane became the most expensive player in British football history when Manchester United signed him from Nottingham Forest for £3.75m back in 1993. Since then, things have spiralled out of control and the following list is at risk of being re-written several times this summer alone.
The fees given here are the originally reported sums for players minus add-ons. Unless you can hack into Roman Abramovich’s accounts (please don’t), you can’t always know the exact fee...
Kyle Walker (Tottenham to Manchester City, £45m)
Once known above all for his rapid pace, Walker has developed into a more cultured player under Pep Guardiola and played a big part in the club winning two consecutive Premier League titles.
The England international recently extended his deal at the Etihad by a further two years, keeping him locked down until 2024.
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea to Everton, £45m)
Everton swooped for the Icelandic magician in 2017 after a superb spell at Swansea, forking out a club-record fee for his services.
He ended the 2018/19 campaign as the Toffees’ joint-top scorer alongside Richarlison, notching 14 goals to help Marco Silva’s side to an eighth-place finish.
Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon to Arsenal, £46.5m)
Lacazette became Arsenal’s record signing in summer 2017 when he arrived to bolster the Gunners' strike force, although he's since been overtaken by strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The 28-year-old was named the club’s Player of the Season for 2018/19 by Arsenal fans, after notching 19 goals in all competitions.
Carlos Tevez (MSI to Manchester City, £47m)
Tevez caused controversy when he swapped Manchester United for cross-town rivals City in 2009.
Third party MSI, who owned the striker’s economic rights, reportedly received a sizeable fee for his services after the Argentine turned down the chance to make his Old Trafford loan permanent.
City welcomed him with a giant ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard in the city centre to taunt their rivals and Tevez went on to win the 2011/12 Premier League title with the Citizens, who pipped United to the prize on goal difference.
John Stones (Everton to Manchester City, £47.5m)
City secured one of English football’s brightest prospects in August 2016, but had to hand over a fee that made Stones the second-most expensive defender ever at the time.
The England international has had to shoulder his fair share of criticism since, with injuries and errors slowing the 25-year-old’s progress, but the boy from Barnsley has nevertheless made his contribution to City’s back-to-back Premier League title wins.
Naby Keita (RB Leipzig to Liverpool, £48m)
Liverpool struck a deal for Keita a year before he arrived at Anfield and he was awarded with the No.8 shirt vacated by club legend Steven Gerrard.
An injury at the tail end of the season saw the 24-year-old miss out on his club’s Champions League final victory over Tottenham, but he will look to build on a promising debut season in 2019/20.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool to Chelsea, £50m)
El Nino’s January deadline day switch to Stamford Bridge in 2011 broke the British transfer record. In exchange, Chelsea were getting one of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers. That was, at least, until he pulled on a Blues shirt.
The Spaniard never managed to replicate the form he'd displayed at Anfield, but that isn't say he didn’t make an impact; Torres's last-minute equaliser against Barcelona which sent Chelsea to the Champions League final will live long in the memory. He also notched the opener in their Europa League final victory over Benfica in 2013.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £50m)
Palace’s Player of the Year for 2018/19 earned a big-money move to Old Trafford this summer after a superb campaign on the right side of the Eagles’ defence.
The fee made the 21-year-old the sixth-most expensive defender of all time and he now looks set to become a key figure in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s new-look United side next term.
Fred (Shakhtar to Manchester United, £50m)
United spent big to take Brazilian midfielder Fred off Shakhtar’s hands last summer, and while he hasn’t immediately impressed at Old Trafford, there have been some promising signs.
The 26-year-old made just 20 starts in all competitions but began to feature more prominently towards the end of the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A year of adaptation is acceptable, but given his high price tag, United fans will demand a bigger and better contribution from the midfielder next term.
Benjamin Mendy (Monaco to Manchester City, £52m)
After being s standout player in Monaco’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2016/17, it was expected that the Frenchman would make a big impact in England when he arrived at the end of that season.
City made him the most expensive defender ever, eclipsing their own record spent on Kyle Walker. But disaster soon struck: Mendy ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in September 2017 and missed much of the campaign, making a comeback the following April only to undergo surgery again in November 2018. City will have their fingers crossed that 2019/20 will be injury-free for the 24-year-old.
Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg to Manchester City, £55m)
After finding opportunities limited at Chelsea, the Belgian has shown the west Londoners what they were missing since arriving at the Etihad in 2015.
The Belgium international has developed into one of the Premier League’s best midfielders, twice winning City’s Player of the Year award and racking up 41 goals and 66 assists for the club to help them win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and three League Cups.
Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon to Tottenham, £55m)
After waiting 18 months for a signing, Tottenham fans were able to celebrate the arrival of two new faces in as many days. Teenager Jack Clarke has been immediately loaned back to Leeds for another season, but Ndombele will be a key part of Mauricio Pochettino's team next term.
The Frenchman was linked with Manchester United, Juventus and PSG, but Spurs won the fight by paying a club-record £55m. Pochettino will hope he can replace the midfield drive previously provided by Mousa Dembele.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal, £56m)
Arsenal’s record signing arrived in January 2018 after a prolific spell in Germany and immediately continued that form in the Premier League.
He hit double figures in his first campaign for the Gunners despite being there for just half a season, before notching 22 strikes in 2018/19 to share the Golden Boot with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Club to Manchester City, £57m)
An unsung part of Pep Guardiola’s remarkable side, the centre-back missed just three league games for City in 2018/19 as they pipped Liverpool to the title with a 98-point haul.
It was an impressive first full season for the 25-year-old, who has quickly established himself as one of the league’s best defenders since arriving in January 2018 from Athletic Club.
Jorginho (Napoli to Chelsea, £57m)
It’s safe to say not everyone at Stamford Bridge got along with Maurizio Sarri’s style of football, and the Italian manager’s midfield pivot Jorginho had to field much of the criticism during his debut season in England.
The Italy international followed Sarri from Napoli to London last summer; now that the boss has packed his bags and headed for Juventus, the playmaker might have his work cut out to hold down as comfortable a starting spot next term.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea, £58m)
Chelsea will be thankful they sealed a deal for Pulisic's summer arrival back in January, with the Blues now facing a two-window transfer ban.
The USA international, freshly named as Young Player of the 2019 Gold Cup, scored seven goals in 30 games for Dortmund last season and aged 20 has plenty of time to get even better.
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid to Chelsea, £58m)
Like his compatriot Fernando Torres before him, Morata never quite got up and running at Chelsea despite boasting an impressive CV upon arrival.
A club record signing in July 2017, Morata bagged a hat-trick against Stoke and notched the winner against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United among 15 goals in his debut season. However, the striker was shipped off to Atletico Madrid on an 18-month loan midway through last season after finding the net just five times in 16 Premier League appearances before January.
Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid to Manchester United, £59.7m)
After a disappointing seventh-place finish in 2013/14, Manchester United's post-Alex Ferguson era was supposed to take life after the arrivals of Louis van Gaal and Di Maria. Things didn't go to plan for either manager or player, though, with Di Maria proving a costly flop at Old Trafford.
The Argentina international hit the ground running and enjoyed a superb first two months as a United player, but things went downhill from there and he was sold to PSG at the campaign's end.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester to Manchester City, £60m)
Leicester reportedly want at least £90m for Harry Maguire, and they are unlikely to drop that asking price too much if their handling of Mahrez is anything to go by.
The Algerian winger attempted to force through a move to Manchester City in January 2018, but the Foxes held firm and retained his services until the end of the campaign. Mahrez was eventually granted his wish when City agreed to pay £60m last summer, but the jury is still out after an up-and-down debut season at the Etihad.
Alisson Becker (Roma to Liverpool, £65m)
After Loris Karius' costly errors in the Champions League final, it was obvious that Liverpool required an upgrade between the sticks in summer 2018. Jurgen Klopp wasted little time in identifying his No.1 choice for the No.1 jersey, with the Reds concluding a deal weeks before the start of the season.
Alisson arrived at Anfield with a lofty reputation, but he more than lived up to expectation as the Reds finished runners-up in the Premier League and won the Champions League with victory over Tottenham.
Rodri (Atletico Madrid to Man City, £68.2m)
Manchester City made Rodri their club record arrival in July 2019, snapping up the talented Spaniard after a fine debut season with Atletico.
The Rojiblancos turned a speedy £46m profit on their former central midfielder after only signing him from Villarreal in May 2018, but City are glad to have landed the player they see as an ideal long-term replacement for Fernandinho.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (Athletic Club to Chelsea, £71m)
After losing Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, Chelsea spent a club-record fee to bring Kepa to Stamford Bridge. There was never any chance of Athletic Club - a side whose Basque-only recruitment policy places a premium on their players - accepting anything less than the £71m which triggered the goalkeeper's buyout clause.
Kepa had some bright moments in 2018/19 but hasn't yet done enough to show that he's worth such a huge outlay. At the age of 24, he still has plenty of time to convince the doubters.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, £75m)
Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid £75m to acquire Van Dijk from Southampton in January 2018, but that fee - while a world record for a defender - now looks like a bargain.
The Dutchman showed promise during his time on the south coast, but he's now widely regarded as one of the top three centre-backs on the planet. Van Dijk was sensational last season, helping Liverpool win the Champions League and post their highest ever top-flight points total.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton to Manchester United, £75m)
Lukaku's stay at Old Trafford could be brought to an end this summer, though United will probably have to accept making a loss on the ex-Chelsea frontman.
The Belgian enjoyed a positive debut campaign at Old Trafford following his £75m move from Everton, scoring 27 goals in all competitions – but went backwards last season, netting just 15 times in 45 matches and spending much of the year benched.
Paul Pogba (Juventus to Manchester United, £89.3m)
Transfer fees have exploded in the last couple of years, but Pogba's £89.3m return to Manchester United three summers ago remains the all-time English record. The midfielder won four Serie A titles at Juve after departing Old Trafford on a free in 2012, and arrived back at United as one of the hottest talents in world football.
Few players anywhere have divided opinion quite like Pogba in the last three years, and while there can be no doubting his ability, some United fans wouldn't mind if Real Madrid or Juve were successful in their pursuit of the Frenchman this summer.
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