Neymar is the world’s most expensive player as he joins Paris Saint-Germain for £198 million. The Brazil international, 25, has found his way on to an illustrious list of players who have held the title down the years, from Diego Maradona to Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane to Cristiano Ronaldo.
As Neymar gets used to life following his astronomical move, here’s a look at the evolution of the modern world transfer record — when the fees really started to get interesting…
1973 – Johan Cruyff: Ajax to Barcelona – £922,000
Luis Suarez’s £152,000 move to Inter from Barcelona in 1961 saw him become the first player to cost more than £100,000 but the first to cost half a million was Dutch maestro Cruyff, whose influence and ethos is still felt at Barcelona over 40 years on from his move there.
1975 – Giuseppe Savoldi: Bologna to Napoli – £1.2m
Many think Trevor Francis was the first million pound player (although when he moved from Birmingham to Nottingham Forest in 1979, Brian Clough famously claimed the deal was £999,999 to avoid piling pressure on him) but in fact Savoldi holds the honour, following his move to Napoli in 1975.
1976 – Paolo Rossi: Juventus to Vicenza – £1.75m
Rossi scored 20 goals in 48 games for Italy and his six goals at the World Cup in Spain in 1982 has earned him legendary status among Azzurri fans.
1982 – Diego Maradona: Boca Juniors to Barcelona – £3m
He may be one of the greatest of all time and a two-time holder of the world’s most expensive tag, but Maradona could not inspire Barcelona to league title glory during his two years in Catalonia.
1984 – Diego Maradona: Barcelona to Napoli – £5m
With two Serie A titles, the UEFA Cup, Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia, Maradona became a legend in Naples and enjoyed his peak years before going to star for Argentina at the World Cup in 1986.
1987 – Ruud Gullit: PSV Eindhoven to Milan – £6m
One of the finest players of his generation, Gullit’s move to Milan in 1987 sparked a trophy glut that included three league titles and two European Cups.
1990 – Roberto Baggio: Fiorentina to Juventus – £8m
Perhaps unfairly remembered for missing the decisive penalty to hand Brazil the World Cup in 1994, Italy’s Baggio was a huge success in Serie A, winning the league for two different clubs: Juventus and Milan.
1992 – Jean-Pierre Papin: Marseille to Milan – £10m
Papin helped AC Milan to Serie A glory in 1994 but could not stop former club Marseille from triumphing over the Rossoneri in that year’s Champions League final.
1992 – Gianluca Vialli: Sampdoria to Juventus – £12m
Vialli lifted the Champions League with Juventus following a 4-2 win over Ajax in 1996.
1992 – Gianluigi Lentini: Torino to Milan – £13m
Mercurial winger Lentini was known for his silky dribbling skills and he won three Serie A titles in his time at Milan. Cruelly, a car crash in 1993 robbed him of his speed and agility down the wing but he returned to playing and he made the bench for the 1994 Champions League final.
1996 – Ronaldo: PSV Eindhoven to Barcelona – £13.2m
Ronaldo, then 20, was crowned World Player of the Year in 1996 — the youngest recipient of the prestigious award. His season at Barcelona remains one of the most memorable of the past 20 years. His goal at Compostela in October ’96 is one of his finest and the day after he scored it, AS ran a front page that simply read: “Pele Returns.”
1996 – Alan Shearer: Blackburn to Newcastle – £15m
Goal machine Shearer scored five at Euro 1996 to secure the Golden Boot and following his success at the tournament — and huge interest from Manchester United — he signed for hometown team Newcastle. His 260 Premier League goals remains a record.
1997 – Ronaldo: Barcelona to Inter – £19.5m
Il Fenomeno won the World Player of the Year award for a third time while at Inter Milan but his injury troubles meant he only picked up the UEFA Cup during his time there.
1998 – Denilson: Sao Paulo to Real Betis – £21.5m
Denilson was relegated and then promoted during a topsy turvy spell in Spain and was also part of the Brazil squad that won the World Cup in 2002.
1999 – Christian Vieri: Lazio to Inter – £32.1m
The Italy striker’s time at Inter was largely one of frustration. Injuries denied Inter Milan fans a longstanding partnership between Vieri and Ronaldo, while a final day defeat to Lazio in 2002 wrecked their hopes of a first Serie A title since 1989.
2000 – Hernan Crespo: Parma to Lazio – £35.5m
Crespo’s highlight from his big move to Lazio arrived when he won the Supercoppa Italiana following a 4-3 win over Inter Milan but he was unable to fire his new side to glory in Serie A.
2000 – Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid – £37m
It remains one of football’s enduring images: a pig’s head thrown at Figo as he took a corner for Madrid against former club Barcelona in 2002 during a bad tempered Clasico. Figo had the last laugh, though, winning the second of two La Liga titles with Madrid that season.
2001 – Zinedine Zidane: Juventus to Real Madrid – £46.6m
The best value for money signing in this list? Quite possibly. Zidane’s stunning finish helped win Real Madrid the Champions League at Bayer Leverkusen’s expense in 2002 and as a manager, he has led Madrid to the trophy two times in the last three seasons.
2009 – Cristiano Ronaldo: Man United to Real Madrid – £80m
Another player who could claim to be a bargain even at £80m. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or three times at Madrid to add to the one he claimed at United and is Real Madrid’s all-time record scorer.
2013 – Gareth Bale: Tottenham to Real Madrid – £86m
The Welsh winger has enjoyed a fine spell in Spain, winning the Champions League three times since moving from Tottenham.
2016 – Paul Pogba: Juventus to Man United – £89.3m
Pogba left Manchester United in 2012 for virtually nothing after Ferguson fell out with agent Mino Raiola but he returned for a record fee four years later, helping Jose Mourinho’s men to the Europa League by scoring the first in a 2-0 win over Ajax in the final last season.
2017 – Neymar: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain – £198m
World football was rocked to its foundations on Thursday when Paris Saint-Germain announced the signing of Neymar from Barcelona. One part of the famed “MSN” decided to leave the Camp Nou in search of a new challenge in Ligue 1 — a switch that banked Barcelona just shy of £200m, doubling the world record set by Pogba last summer.