Who’s the world’s most expensive football player?

by Mystical Mike

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Mortgage prices are dropping, the credit crunch is hitting us all, and it seems the only things in life that are getting more expensive is food, petrol and footballers.

The amount of money spent on individual players these days is ridiculous. Is Cristiano Ronaldo really worth 75 million? If we actually look at what Real Madrid would be getting for their money, it’s a name basically. It’s a name to put on the back of their replica shirts for the adoring fans to buy and wear in the streets of Madrid. When Beckham signed for Madrid for 25 million, I believe shirt sales of Beckham’s number 23 shirts made something in the region of 80 million for the club. Not a bad return. But in Cristiano they believe they will be buying someone who as well as making a 5 million profit for the club, would also revive their fortunes and help them win something that they have not won for 6 years now. The Champions League. Talk about impatient.

But does spending the equivalent of Beckham and Bill Gates wages actually guarantee success?? Here we take a look at the top 6 most expensive players of all time and see exactly what their clubs spent their hard earned wedge on.


1) Nicolas Anelka – Total transfer fees 85.3 million.

Yes, Le Sulk is the most expensive player in world history…and whose fault is that?? Chelski, they allowed him to break the record when they took the mercenary from Bolton last season. So what has Nic Anelka won in his time in the beautiful game? Being that he has been at 9 clubs in 13 years it will be quicker to lists his total games/goals and what he has won….


Overall Games Played 399
Total Goals Scored 135

Premiership Champions (Arsenal 98)
FA Cup (Arsenal 98)
Champions League (Real Madrid 00)
Turkish Champions (Fenerbache 05)

So a goal nearly every 3 games and only 3 of his 13 seasons as a professional footballer have ended with a trophy. Worth every penny.


2. Juan Sebastian Veron – Total transfer fees 77.2 million.

No less travelled is Seba Veron. Have to admit, I did wonder what had become of him myself as he had gone off the radar at Inter. Turns out he’s now at Estudiantes La Plate, where he started his career in the Argy Premier League. So from Estudiantes to Boca Juniors, Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio, Man Utd, Chelsea, Inter and back to Estudiantes, here’s how Seba has fared.


Overall Games Played 316
Total Goals Scored 36
(Domestic competitions only as strangely Wikipedia doesn’t have European or Cup stats for Seba)

Argentine B Division Champions (Estudiantes)
Italian Cup (Parma 99, Lazio 00, Inter, 05, 06)
Serie A Champions (Lazio 00, Inter 06)
Italian Super Cup (Lazio 00, Inter 05)
Premier League (Man Utd 03)
Uefa Cup (Parma 99)
European Super Cup (Parma 99)

A total of 12 honours for Seba and although not as many games, it appears he still played an important role for his teams and represents much better value for money. Still think Hargreaves is better though.


3) Hernan Crespo – Total transfer fees 68 million.

‘Ernan Crespo pops up at number 3 in our list and is the best money buy so far by my count. Just the 7 clubs for the curly haired one, starting in Argentina and moving to Italy (do Argys have some kind of affinity with Italy) before travelling on to merry old Blighty before deciding that he couldn’t make up his mind and hopping between Italy and England 2 or 3 times. Hernans stats as follows, this time including all European and Cup games, Wikipedia obviously like him more than Veron.


Overall Games Played 450
Total Goals Scored 216

Argentina Primera Division Champions (River Plate 93, 94, 96)
Copa Libertadores (River Plate 96)
Uefa Cup (Parma 99)
Copa Italia (Parma 99)
Italian Super Cup (Parma 99, 00, AC Milan 04, Inter 06)
English Premier League (Chelsea 06)
Serie A Champions (Inter 07, 08)

At nearly a goal every 2.5 games and 13 pieces of gold to his name in 15 years, I reckon Hernan is the pick of the bunch so far, especially since he’s been 17.3 million quid cheaper too.


4) Christian Vieri – Total transfer fees 62.8 million.

Some little known facts to start with on Mr. Vieri, he has a pizza named after him, is the all time top scorer of headers in Italian league history, his greatest sporting hero is Allan Border the Aussie cricketer and his brother is Australian. Christian appears to be even more of a mercenary than Le Sulk, touting an incredible 13 different clubs in his 18 year career. Still, barring 2, at least he like to stick with the Italian league where he is affectionately known as Mr. Grumpy. Google his picture, you’ll see why.


Overall Games Played 346
Total Goals Scored 187

Champions League (Juve 96)
Serie A Champions (Juve 97)
Cup Winners Cup (Lazio 99)

Only 3 trophies in 18 seasons….no wonder he’s Mr. Grumpy. Still, he’s good at scoring headers…..that should cheer him up.


5) Robbie Keane – Total transfer fees 59 million

Yes, our very own (if your Irish) Roberto Alfonso Keane….or Robbie to you and me. Newly rolled out on the Anfield carpet recently and raring to get going in front of the Kop, whatever these stats say right now, you can expect to add between 15 and 20 in the goals tally by the end of this season. Only 6 clubs by our Robbie over 10 years so we may not have seen the last of his moving just yet.


Overall Games Played 444
Total Goals Scored 169

Carling Cup Winner (Spurs 08)

A pretty dismal trophy return by Robbie, but he did reach a Champions League semi final with Leeds……bless.

So make your own mind up who has been the more worthwhile of these mega money moves, and bear in mind that for Cristiano to make it into this list, he has to be sold to Madrid for no less than 43 million. Then he would have over taken Robbie Keane before his 24th birthday and on only his 3rd club.




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  • Stevie

    Anelka is pretty over rated, even if he did score 4 against AC Milan last night in Chelseas 0-5 win in the San Siro. Arsenal beat Madrid 1-0 & Spurs beat Borussia Dortmund 0-3. Off topic but another good day for English clubs.

    Veiri is another over rated player, he played against Rangers in the UEFA cup semi and looked way past it, over weight, no pace, terrible first touch and he can’t take a penalty to save his life. Interesting fact about the headers though!

    Out of all of those players only Hernan Crespo is the real deal, he has scored goals where ever he has been. Class

  • dexy longshot

    Good work Church. When you look at Veron, Vieri and Crespo, have a look at the clubs and spot the connections, all 3 of them went to Lazio when humungoss amounts of wedge went into the club at the end of the 90’s. With Sven at the helm, it soon brought the league title with it. It was a great time for my adopted Italian team of choice but at the back of mind, it didn’t seem right, buying the title. I despised Blackburn when Jack Walkers millions got them the title a few years earlier over here and obviously, a certain West London clubs splurge in recent seasons also grates. As for the players, Veron was magnificent at the 98 world cup but just couldn’t adapt to the more pressing game over here. I liked Crespo too, he wasn’t to bad with his nut either…not so sure about that barnet though.

  • http://realfootballargentina.blogspot.com/ meatandmalbec

    Howdy – yes the Argy’s do have some kind of affinity with Italy……………a good many of their ancestors hail from there. They also speak Spanish with an Italian accent……..very strange!

  • Parks numero uno

    interesting list. i never knew that Robbie Keane had been bought and sold for so much.

    I think he would have won more if he had been playing in better team.

    I remeber standing in Sport&Soccer for nearly an hour and 45 minutes waiting for my dippy brother to decide whether to buy a Man Utd shirt with Veron on the back so to say i was slighty pee’d off. Utd sold him 3 days later,it was worth it to see my brothers face when he realised he spent 50 quid on an ex-players shirt. Ha Ha!!!!

  • http://aloadofcobblers.blogspot.com Danny Brothers

    I still have no idea how Anelka can justify having that much spent on him! Surely one of the most overrated players in the world today…probably got to the top because of the amount of clubs that have had him. Surprised to see Keane up there in the top five though.

  • Parks numero uno

    i wouldve thought that Figo,Ronaldo(Brazil),Zidane might have been up there aswell.

  • Dan Church

    Brazilian Ronaldo was 6th in the list…….figures supplied courtesy of Sky Sports…..

  • Parks numero uno

    that is a surprise!!! prices are spiralling out of control now.

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