10 most expensive transfers in soccer history: Is Kylian Mbappe next?

Kylian Mbappe has committed to playing for Paris Saint-Germain next season. Beyond that, his future is uncertain, as the player reportedly informed the club he won’t exercise the option to extend his contract through the 2024-25 season.

PSG could try to negotiate a new contract with Mbappe before next summer when his contract expires, but then it would run the risk of letting him walk for nothing. If Mbappe signals to the club that he’s serious about leaving in 2024, then PSG has to consider transferring him this summer.

Les Parisiens acquired Mbappe for a fee of $194 million when he was 18 years old. He’s now 24 and a proven winner at the club and international level. 

What’s the precedent for a player of his caliber’s asking price?

Here’s a look at the top 10 most expensive transfers in soccer history and how they played out:

10. Eden Hazard: $124 million

Real Madrid paid Chelsea a whopping $124 million for Eden Hazard in 2019, and though the deal seemed like a no-brainer at the time, injuries prevented Hazard from reaching the same heights he did with Chelsea at his new club. In 76 appearances with Los Blancos, the former Premier League Player of the Season scored a dreadful seven goals. Hazard and Madrid mutually decided to terminate his contract in 2023.

9. Cristiano Ronaldo: $126 million

Real Madrid broke the all-time transfer record in 2009 when it paid Manchester United $126 million for Cristiano Ronaldo. It proved to be a worthy investment, as Ronaldo went on to win four Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and four domestic cups in nine years as Real Madrid’s star forward. He also won the Ballon d’Or four times during his time at Madrid.

Ronaldo left Madrid to join Juventus in 2018 for a transfer fee of $107 million, but he’s still Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer with 450 goals in 438 matches.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Every World Cup goal in Portugal career from 2006 to 2022 | FOX Soccer

8. Jack Grealish: $126.8 million

Jack Grealish’s $126.8 million transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City looks much better now than it did at the start. After struggling mightily in his first season with The Sky Blues, Grealish was a key contributor during City’s treble-winning 2022-23 campaign, tallying five goals and 11 assists in all competitions, up from six goals and four assists last season. Grealish’s transfer fee is the most for an English player ever.

7. Antoine Griezmann: $129 million

Barcelona activated Antoine Griezmann’s $129 million buyout clause from Atlético Madrid in 2019. However, Griezmman’s time in Barcelona didn’t last long, as he returned to Atléti on loan in 2021 after two unsuccessful seasons at the Camp Nou. Atléti made the transfer permanent in 2022 by paying $21 million for Griezmann, $108 million less than what Barcelona paid for him two years prior. Griezmann contributed 35 goals and 17 assists in 102 appearances for Barcelona.

6. Enzo Fernandez: $130.5 million

Coming off of being named the best younger player of the tournament at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Enzo Fernandez secured a $130.5 million transfer from Benfica to Chelsea in January. While the 22-year-old wasn’t able to turn Chelsea’s season around, he was one of the few bright spots for The Blues during a season in which they finished 12th in the English Premier League.

Lionel Messi, Enzo Fernández, Julián Álvarez & more in every goal for Argentina | 2022 FIFA World Cup

5. Joao Felix: $137 million

Joao Felix’s $137 million move from Benfica to Atlético Madrid was historic for both clubs, as it was Benfica’s biggest sale in club history and Atlético’s biggest-ever transfer. Unfortunately, Felix hasn’t made much history in Madrid outside his price tag. While the 2019 Golden Boy-winner helped Atléti lift its first La Liga trophy in seven years in 2021, injuries and disagreements with the club’s legendary manager Diego Simeone have prevented him from living up to his price tag. Felix spent the second half of the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Chelsea but is expected to return to Madrid for the 2023-24 season.

4. Ousmane Dembele: $145 million

When Ousmane Dembele is healthy, the $145 million transfer fee Barcelona paid to acquire him from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 looks completely justified, but injuries have made the deal difficult to evaluate. Because while’s won three La Liga titles and three domestic cups in six years at Barcelona, he’s been sidelined for the high and lows the clubs has experienced in that time. His most recent season at Barcelona was arguably his most impactful, as he contributed five goals and seven assists en route to a La Liga title.

3. Philippe Coutinho: $145 million

The third-most expensive transfer in soccer history is also one of the worst. Pegged as the perfect replacement for club legend Andres Iniesta, Philippe Coutinho was transferred to Barcelona from Liverpool for a fee of $145 million in 2018. What followed was the nightmare scenario for Barcelona. Coutinho, Barcelona’s most expensive player of all time, played only one full season for the club before he was loaned out to Barcelona before the start of his third season.

Coutinho returned to Barcelona for the 2020-21 season, but a season-ending knee injury limited him to just 14 appearances in all competitions. In January 2022, Coutinho was transferred to Premier League club Aston Villa for €20 million. Coutinho ended his Barcelona career with 25 goals and 14 assists in 106 appearances with Barcelona. With Liverpool, he had 54 goals and 45 assists in 201 appearances.

2. Kylian Mbappe: $194 million

In hindsight, $194 million feels like a steal for a player of Kylian Mbappe’s caliber. Though the 24-year-old has yet to win the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain, he’s brought a record five consecutive Ligue 1 titles and eight domestic cups to the club since joining them from Monaco in 2017. He’s also been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year four times as a PSG player.

In March, Mbappe passed Edinson Cavani’s to become PSG’s all-time leading goalscorer, and he did it in 54 fewer games. Even if he leaves PSG when his contract expires in 2024, he’ll go down as the club’s greatest player of all time. Plus, there’s a good chance PSG get the money they paid for him.

Kylian Mbappé: Every World Cup goal in France career from 2018 to 2022 | FOX Soccer

1. Neymar: $239 million

It was always going to be difficult for Neymar to live up to the $239 million price tag that PSG paid Barcelona for his talents in 2017, but injuries have made it even harder for him to justify it by winning a Champions League, something PSG has never done. Still, he’s had an outstanding career with PSG, recording 118 goals and 77 assists in 173 appearances for the club and winning 13 trophies in six years.

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