The most expensive signings in La Liga history

The most expensive signings in La Liga history

Marquee signings would be better if in their presentations, they were made to come jumping out onto the pitch of their new side doing Shane McMahon’s little shuffle while his theme song plays.

Unfortunately, that’s not how football works. Still, there’s something rather pleasurable about watching the trademark kick ups and skills presentation on the pitch, which inevitably ends up in the new signing looking a fool at some point.

La Liga has long been home to plenty of the beautiful game’s biggest stars. Lovely weather, good football and wads of cash, it makes sense, doesn’t it? Thus, it only makes sense to look back at the league’s top 30 most expensive signings.

Here comes the money…

Antoine GriezmannAntoine Griezmann
Griezmann reached superstar levels after moving to Atletico Madrid | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £24m
Year: 2014

Griezmann had to earn his stripes in La Liga and first earned a big move off the back of some impressive form with Real Sociedad.

Atleti were reigning champions at the time, which made the Frenchman’s signing an even bigger deal.

David VillaDavid Villa
Peak David Villa was a goal machine | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Valencia to Barcelona
Fee: £36m
Year: 2010

The man who epitomised having ice running through his veins, El Guaje remains Spain’s all-time top scorer and one of the most underrated strikers to play the game.

Clubs involved: Porto to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £36m
Year: 2011

His knees might be made of glass, but it didn’t stop Radamel Falcao from becoming one of the most deadly finishers of the world in the early 2010s.

Great chant, too.

Jose Paulo Bezerra Maciel Junior, PaulinhoJose Paulo Bezerra Maciel Junior, Paulinho
We live in a simulation | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Guangzhou Evergrande to Barcelona
Fee: £36m
Year: 2017

Contender for one of the weirdest transfers in football history, Paulinho – you know, one of the famous Tottenham ‘Bale money’ signings – left China for Barcelona in 2017, and returned to China two years later at a slight profit.

This actually happened.

Gonçalo GuedesGonçalo Guedes
Guedes is held in high regard | David Ramos/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Paris Saint-Germain to Valencia
Fee: £36m
Year: 2018

Goncalo Guedes only made 13 appearances for PSG and had barely completed the tour of the Eiffel Tower before he was shipped off on loan to Valencia.

Luckily for Guedes, Los Che took a bit of a shining to him and they made the deal permanent after a season. Still, he was never going to get into PSG’s front three, was he?

MalcomMalcom
Malcom’s time at Barcelona was short | Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Bordeaux to Barcelona
Fee: £36.9m
Year: 2018

Is he any good? Really?

FIFA Ultimate Team has you thinking so, but the fact Malcom trotted off to Zenit after just one season in Spain is rather telling.

Barcelona love bonkers transfer business.

Luis Figo of Real Madrid leaves the pitchLuis Figo of Real Madrid leaves the pitch
Barcelona fans resented Figo | Getty Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Barcelona to Real Madrid
Fee: £37.2m
Year: 2000

When we said Ronaldo was arguably the Galactico signing of all Galacticos, it was because of Luis Figo, who was the first one ever.

His release clause was controversially activated by new Real president Florentino Perez in 2000, inciting fury among Barcelona fans, who threw a pig’s head at him during a game in 2002.

Clubs involved: Inter to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2002

Words cannot do this man any justice. Ronaldo is arguably the Galactico signing. Mr Money in the Bank.

104 goals from 177 appearances, alongside the 2002 Ballon d’Or.

Ruslan Malinovskyi, Vinicius JuniorRuslan Malinovskyi, Vinicius Junior
Don’t write off Vinicius yet | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Flamengo to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2018

Back in 2017, Real Madrid agreed to pay Flamengo a fee in the region of €46m (£40.5m) for a then 16-year-old Vinicius Junior – two years before he could actually join the club.

The thing is, Real, throwing a load of money at young Brazilian footballers doesn’t automatically turn them into a star – though fortunately time is definitely on Vinicius’ side.

Rodrygo GoesRodrygo Goes
Rodrygo has been highly rated by his employers | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Santos to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2019

Did Real Madrid learn from perhaps getting a little too keen with Vinicius? Of course not, because they did the same thing a year later.

The pair are destined to become MLS journeymen, aren’t they?

Clubs involved: Lyon to Real Madrid
Fee: £43.2m
Year: 2019

From being told he might never play football again to signing for Real Madrid. Ferland Mendy’s story is incredible.

The long-term successor to Marcelo, who is arguably more rounded as a footballer…

Eder MilitaoEder Militao
Militao struggles for regular games at Real | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Porto to Real Madrid
Fee: £45m
Year: 2018

You kind of get the idea by now, don’t you?

Real Madrid love spending money and they love spending big money on unproven talent. Eder Militao was exactly that when he signed from Porto, and to this day, does anyone know if he’s up to it?

Zinedine ZidaneZinedine Zidane
Zizou was incredible in his playing career | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Juventus to Real Madrid
Fee: £46.2m
Year: 2001

At the time, Zinedine Zidane’s £46.2m transfer to Real Madrid was a world-record deal.

Equate that to modern day money and the Frenchman was probably worth around £200m at his peak – that’s how good he was.

Luka JovicLuka Jovic
Jovic was barely given a chance in Madrid | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid
Fee: £52.4m
Year: 2019

Oh look, here come Real Madrid again with further proof that they have more money than sense.

Clubs involved: Chelsea to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £54m
Year: 2018

Football’s greatest villain Diego Costa returned to Atleti from Chelsea for a club-record fee in 2018, but sadly his Madrid reunion didn’t quite go as planned.

Still, there’s plenty of positive memories Costa can call upon, and plenty of fun flashpoints.

Miralem PjanicMiralem Pjanic
Perhaps the weirdest bit of business ever | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Juventus to Barcelona
Fee: £54m (and Arthur Melo heading to Juventus for £64.8m)
Year: 2020

Now, we’re not saying that this swap deal between Barcelona and Juventus was wrong, but it was definitely strange. Properly strange.

The pair have since tried to outdo each other in the ‘who will flop worse?’ contest, too.

KakaKaka
Kaka never found the same levels in Spain | Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Milan to Real Madrid
Fee: £56m
Year: 2009

After lighting it up in Italy and ripping Europe to shreds on the road to Champions League and Ballon d’Or glory, Los Blancos made Kaka the second-most expensive player in the world in 2009.

Needless to say, he didn’t live up to the star billing.

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan IbrahBarcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrah
Life with La Blaugrana isn’t Zlatan’s fondest memory | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Inter to Barcelona
Fee: £59m (plus Samuel Eto’o heading to Inter)
Year: 2009

Barcelona, Ibrahimovic and success seemed like a marriage made in heaven.

That was until the fiery Swede got on the wrong side of Pep Guardiola, ensuring his £59m transfer was pretty much a disaster.

Thomas LemarThomas Lemar
Yes, he still exists | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Monaco to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £64.8m
Year: 2018

Having thoroughly impressed at Monaco and, for all intents and purposes, outrgrown Ligue 1, Thomas Lemar moved to Madrid for a step up in class.

Sadly, that step involved going two years and 45 appearances without a goal. Yikes.

James RodriguezJames Rodriguez
Rodriguez was a forgotten man at the Santiago Bernabeu | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Monaco to Real Madrid
Fee: £63m
Year: 2014

Considering Real Madrid’s previous dealings, you wouldn’t be surprised if the only bit of James Rodriguez scouting that took place was watching his 2014 World Cup highlight reel.

Still, he was bloody sensational in that tournament.

Luis SuarezLuis Suarez
Excellent player, even better kit | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Liverpool to Barcelona
Fee: £64.98m
Year: 2014

Fresh off receiving a four-month ban for biting, Luis Suarez was public enemy number one as he rocked up at Barcelona for just shy of £65m.

Once that controversy died down, he became one of the Catalan giants’ best ever signings – scoring goal after goal after goal after goal in a sensational six-year stay at Camp Nou.

Frenkie De JongFrenkie De Jong
The future | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Ajax to Barcelona
Fee: £65m
Year: 2019

One of the few bits of intelligent business Barcelona have conducted was signing Frenkie de Jong from Ajax.

Granted, he set the club back £65m, but he can do literally anything in midfield – and is destined to flourish at the top for many years to come.

NeymarNeymar
The most expensive player in the world | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Santos to Barcelona
Fee: £71.5m
Year: 2013

An investigation into Neymar’s transfer to Europe revealed that his parents pocketed a cushy €40m from the move, and that Barcelona paid way more than what was initially made out.

Worth every penny though, right?

Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo did alright at Madrid, didn’t he? | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Manchester United to Real Madrid
Fee: £80m
Year: 2009

Real Madrid had to bide their time, but stealing Cristiano Ronaldo away from Manchester United for £80m was one of the greatest things they’ve ever done.

United, meanwhile, responded by signing Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen. Mother of god.

Gareth BaleGareth Bale
Bale spent his final days in Madrid on the bench | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Tottenham to Real Madrid
Fee: £85.1m
Year: 2013

After electrifying the Premier League for a couple of years, Gareth Bale’s reward was an £85.1m move from Tottenham to Real Madrid.

Multiple Champions League successes followed, as did some huge goals in big finals. But the best bit was probably watching Bale take a nap on the bench, as well as pretending to use a telescope.

Eden HazardEden Hazard
Hazard is plagued by injuries | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Chelsea to Real Madrid
Fee: £89m
Year: 2019

We’re not ones for hyperbole here at 90min, but there’s a fair chance that Eden Hazard has had more injuries at Real Madrid than we’ve had hot dinners.

The poor Belgian hasn’t been given a break, apart from in his bones.

Clubs involved: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona
Fee: £107m
Year: 2019

The only man to make it into the list twice, Barcelona activated Antoine Griezmann’s somewhat ridiculous release clause in 2019 – a good 12 months after that hilarious decision video.

Was it money well spent? We think you know the answer to that…

Ousmane DembeleOusmane Dembele
Injuries have been cruel to Dembele | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona
Fee: £96.8m
Year: 2017

Like Eden Hazard, injuries have unfortunately plagued the Spanish section of Ousmane Dembele’s career – though time is very much on the Frenchman’s side.

For his sake, and Barcelona’s, let’s hope he has a good 500 goals in him to justify a price tag that could tot up to over £135m once it’s all said and done.

Joao FelixJoao Felix
Joao Felix is quietly kicking on at Atleti | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Benfica to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £113m
Year: 2019

For all the money spent by Spain’s biggest clubs in 2019, there hasn’t really been a great deal of reward.

In Atletico‘s case, they shocked the world when they forked out £113m to hoist Joao Felix over to the Spanish capital, only for Diego Simeone to go uber negative in his tactics and effectively turn the Portuguese into a defender.

Philippe CoutinhoPhilippe Coutinho
Injuries and contract clauses have resigned Coutinho to rotting in the background at Barcelona | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Liverpool to Barcelona
Fee: £142m
Year: 2018

Barcelona’s financial ruin can be traced back to many silly, silly deals, but few are sillier than the money involved in signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.

There’s every chance that Barça will still be paying off the move in the 22nd century, such is the amount of unknown clauses and add-on payments that seem to appear from nowhere.

But like a devastating RKO, that’s where Coutinho has been for most of his Camp Nou career – nowhere.

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