Every world record transfer since 1990: Baggio to Neymar via Ronaldo

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Composite image of Juventus' Roberto Baggio holding the UEFA Cup trophy in Turin, May 1993; Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo holding the European Cup in Cardif, June 2017; and Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain holding the Ligue 1 trophy in Paris in May 2018.

In May 1990, Juventus continued a run of Italian clubs breaking the world record transfer fee, paying £8million to sign Roberto Baggio from Fiorentina. Since then, that record has been broken 16 times and shot up to the almost £200million that Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona for Neymar in 2017.

But even if the amounts changing hands weren’t quite so big back in the 90s, the world record was still a big deal.

The Baggio move was incredibly controversial given the rivalry between the two clubs. And it came at a time when Serie A was the best league in the world, so much so that the record was broken another three times by Italian clubs in the next two years.

A lot has changed since then, and we`ve taken a look back on every player to move for a world-record fee since.

Roberto Baggio

After Baggio joined Juventus for £8million in 1990, riots broke out in Florence, with supporters of La Viola enraged their star player had been sold to their fierce rivals.

Il Divin Codino had a habit of proving people wrong and slightly appeased the Fiorentina faithful by refusing to take a penalty against his former side the following season before kissing a purple scarf on the bench.

During his five-year stint with Juve, Baggio lifted three trophies, including the UEFA Cup.

READ: A tribute to Roberto Baggio and his remarkable ability to bounce back

Jean-Pierre Papin

The France international caught AC Milan’s attention after racking up an incredible 38 goals in 44 appearances in the 1991-92 season for Marseille – the fourth consecutive season he reached the 30-goal mark.

Milan signed Papin for £10million, and he went on to score 20 goals in his opening season before moving on to Bayern Munich in 1994.

Gianluca Vialli

Juventus yet again broke the transfer record by signing Vialli from Sampdoria in 1992 for £12.5million. In his first season, he helped the Old Lady win the UEFA Cup.

Gianluigi Lentini

Pace, flair and skill – this lad had it all. His mesmerising talent saw him move to Milan from Torino in 1992 for £13million.

Lentini was pivotal to Fabio Capello’s success at the San Siro as they lifted the Champions League in 1993-94.


“Ronaldo was our leader and we treated him as he deserved to be treated,” former Inter boss Gigi Simoni told us. “He was not a prima donna, but everybody knew he was special and that he could bring us to the top, so everybody supported him.”

Il Fenomeno followed in the footsteps of Diego Maradona by becoming the world’s most expensive player twice. Barcelona paid PSV £13.2million in 1996 before Inter spent £19.5million to sign the striker the following year.

READ: Gigi Simoni: I never asked Ronaldo to run, he just needed to play

Alan Shearer

Sandwiched in between Ronaldo’s two moves was the first time an English club had broken the world transfer record since 1951.

Shearer left Blackburn to join his hometown club Newcastle for £15million and went on to become the club’s all-time leading scorer. He didn’t win a trophy, but he did get to wear those really nice Newcastle Brown Ale kits.

READ: Newcastle’s Forgotten Entertainers: We forgot to insure £15m Alan Shearer


Aged just 21, Real Betis signed Denilson for £21.5million in 1998.

Two years later they were relegated, which wasn’t quite the plan.

READ: Denilson: From the world’s most expensive player to snubbed by Bolton

Christian Vieri

Oh, what could have been.

When Inter paid £32.5million to sign Vieri from Lazio in 1999, Europe was drooling at the prospect of the Italian forming a strike partnership with Ronaldo.

Injuries denied the deadly duo linking up regularly, but Vieri still went on to hit over 120 goals for the Nerazzurri.

READ: A tribute to Christian Vieri, a great striker who deserves a greater legacy

Hernan Crespo

A year after selling Vieri, Lazio raided one of the best cult teams of the 1990s for their star striker.

Crespo, who joined in a £35million deal from Parma, started in blistering style, scoring 26 goals in his debut season before enduring a series of injuries and leaving for Inter.

READ: A tribute to Hernan Crespo, once the most expensive footballer in the world

Luis Figo

One of the most controversial moves of all time, Figo did the unthinkable in 2000, turning his back on the Nou Camp to join Real Madrid.

The £37million signing was welcomed back to a hostile reception in his first El Clasico for Madrid. Bottles, coins and even a pig’s head was thrown at the legendary winger for his betrayal.

READ: 13 of the weirdest things thrown on pitches: Sex toys, Betty Boop, fish…

Zinedine Zidane

One of the greatest footballers of all time and the jewel in Real Madrid’s crown of Galacticos.

A whopping £46.6million took Zizou from Juventus to the Bernabeu in 2001, and he stayed there for 17 years, first as a Champions League-winning player and then as a Champions League-winning manager before returning for a second spell as boss and winning another league title.

Decent value for money, really.


Eight years passed before the transfer record was broken once more, and yet again it was Real Madrid who splashed the cash.

Kaka joined Los Blancos for £56million in 2009, but his reign as the most expensive player in history lasted less than a month.

READ: A tribute to Kaka, the ‘rare piece of talent’ who belonged to Jesus

Cristiano Ronaldo

Went quite well, this, didn’t it?

Ronaldo pissed on Kaka’s bonfire by joining Real Madrid in an £80million move in 2009 and breaking every record in existence.

And to highlight how mental the transfer window has gone since, Madrid sold him as a 33-year-old nine years later and still made a profit on him.

Gareth Bale

Although Bale perhaps didn’t hit the same heights as in his final season at Tottenham, he did win five Champions League crowns with Real Madrid, scoring crucial goals in two of those triumphs.

Paul Pogba

Manchester United became the first English side since Newcastle to break the world transfer record in 2016.

Pogba rejoined United in an £89million deal and has succeeded in upsetting every dad in the country by occasionally dancing, getting haircuts and generally looking like he enjoys life.

He wasn’t been quite so happy on the pitch, mind you, and left Old Trafford on a free to join Juventus – for a second time – last summer.


Has a single transfer ever had such a wide impact on the valuations of the rest of the market?

PSG more than doubled the world transfer record to sign Neymar for €222million from Barcelona in 2017, and in the following 12 months the €100million barrier was broken four times.

As for Neymar at PSG – it hasn’t quite gone to plan, has it?

READ NEXT: Gigi Simoni: I never asked Ronaldo to run, he just needed to play

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