Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar holds the record for being the most expensive football player in the world. He moved from Barcelona to the French capital in the summer of 2017 for a fee that cost PSG a whopping £198 million (€222 million).

Neymar, who signed for Barcelona in 2013, had a contract until 2021 with the Blaugrana, meaning that the Qatar Sports Investments owned PSG had to meet his release clause of £198 million. 

The unusual transfer had a peculiar route as in Spain, the release clause must be activated by the player himself. This essentially means Neymar, who had won back to back La Liga titles and a UEFA Champions League with the club, was pushing for a move.

On top of that, La Liga regulations say the buyout clause must be deposited with La Liga first and the league then forwards the money to the concerned club. In Neymar’s case, however, the money was directly paid to Barcelona as La Liga refused to accept the attempt by PSG, Neymar and his lawyers. 

Soon after his move was finalized, Barcelona filed a lawsuit against Neymar, demanding him to return the contract renewal bonuses and other claims as part of the damages. The Brazilian was eventually told to pay €6.7 million to the Catalan club.

A year after Neymar’s controversial move, PSG splashed £163 million (€180 million) to acquire Kylian Mbappe from AS Monaco. The then-teenage forward, who is now the second most expensive football player, joined PSG on a season-long loan ahead of the 2017-18 football season. His deal was eventually made permanent in the subsequent season.

Next on the list is former Liverpool winger Philippe Coutinho who completed his much-awaited Barcelona switch in January 2018 for £142m million (€160 million).

The top five list for most expensive football players is completed by the likes of Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann. The former moved from Benfica to Atletico Madrid in 2019 for £113 million (€126 million) while the latter swapped Atletico for Barcelona in the same year for £107.6 million (€120 million).

Most expensive football players

Player To From Fee (€) Fee (£) Year
Neymar PSG Barcelona €222 million £198 million 2017
Kylian Mbappe PSG AS Monaco €180 million £163 million 2018
Philippe Coutinho Barcelona Liverpool €160 million £142 million 2018
Joao Felix Atletico Madrid Benfica €126 million £113 million 2019
Antoine Griezmann Barcelona Atletico Madrid €120 million £107.6 million 2019

Featured photo: AFP / Lionel Bonaventure