Grealish next? The 5 players in history to move for £100m+ and how they fared

Quick Reads

In 2009, Real Madrid shook the footballing world when they splashed a record-shattering £80million on Manchester United‘s Cristiano Ronaldo, blowing the fee paid for Zinedine Zidane eight years earlier out of the water. 

Now, that fee looks like loose change, having since been surpassed 10 times – including once by Ronaldo’s own 2018 move to Juventus. Harry Maguire’s move to Manchester United from Leicester City even matched it.

But only five players hold the unique honour of being purchased for over £100million, which might be something we see increasingly often in the years to come.

Manchester City are said to have bid exactly £100million for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, while you’d imagine Spurs talisman Harry Kane would cost even more.

But is paying such a colossal fee a guarantee of success? Here’s how each of the five to have cost over £100million fared after their eye-watering moves.

Neymar 

After growing tired of living in Lionel Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain, smashing Paul Pogba’s record by over £100million – moving to the Parc Des Princes for £198million in 2017.

La Liga actually rejected the deal initially, citing a breach of Financial Fair Play rules from PSG but it eventually snuck over the line.

In the time since, the Brazillian has achieved his dream of being the main man, but has not managed to drag the French giants to glory on the European stage. In fact, last season saw them win just one measly trophy – the Coup de France. Pathetic.

Kylian Mbappe

Just one year later, PSG were at it again, casually dropping £168million on Monaco wonder kid Kylian Mbappe – cheers to Qatar!

The teenager helped fire Monaco to the Ligue 1 title and a Champions League semi-final in 2016-17 before spending an initial year on loan at PSG. He netted 21 goals for his new side and three for France in the 2018 World Cup, becoming the first teenager to score in a final since Pele.

His following three campaigns with PSG have seen him score 39, 30 and 42 goals respectively. So it has gone pretty well for Mbappe, but he’s into the final year of his current deal and losing him for free next summer would be a disaster.

READ: An XI of players whose contracts expire in 2022: Pogba, Ronaldo, Mbappe…

Phillipe Coutinho 

Oh Coutinho. There have not been many more badly timed transfers than yours.

Liverpool signed him for just over £8million in January 2013 and sold him five years later to Barcelona for £142million. The following two seasons saw Jurgen Klopp’s men win the Champions League and the Premier League after using the money to buy transformative signings like Virgil van Dijk and Allison Becker.

Coutinho’s time with Barcelona has not been a success. The fans have never grown to like him and he even drew criticism from Rivaldo and he’s now one of many players the Catalonians are desperate to ship out – and they’d be extremely lucky to recoup even a third of what they paid for him.

But some success has come for him since leaving Anfield, albeit not with Barcelona. A loan to Bayern Munich saw Coutinho lift the Champions League in 2020, which included him coming off the bench to score twice against his parent club in an incredible 8-2 quarter-final victory.

Joao Felix 

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid splashed £113million on Benfica’s Joao Felix who, in 2018-19, ranked among the likes of Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho for goal contributions.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the youngster started slowly in Spain – scoring just 19 goals in 76 appearances over his first two campaigns – the hefty price tag still weighing heavy perhaps.

There is a reason they gave the Portuguese forward a seven-year deal, however. Aged just 21, there is still plenty of time for Felix to come good.

Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann arrived at Camp Nou following five brilliant seasons with Atletico Madrid in which he scored 133 goals in 257 games. But his departure did not go down well at all as the striker’s plaque outside the Wanda Metropolitano was defaced by angry fans.

With a World Cup and the Euro 2016 golden boot to his name, it was hard to argue too much with the £109million paid for his services. Griezmann’s time in Barcelona has been mixed. The fans have never really taken to him, but he still found the net 20 times in 2020-21.

Like Coutinho, the club are reportedly more than willing to offload him and his considerable wages, however; Lionel Messi’s future depends on it. So his future remains rather murky and an opportunistic buyer might find a cut-price bargain.


More from Planet Football

Seven European transfers you might have missed: Boateng, Caulker, Alena

Five Barcelona stars linked with transfers amid their financial struggles

Where are they now? The Real Madrid team from Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut

Can you name every player to score in El Clasico in the 2010s?