While the news was somewhat overshadowed by events elsewhere involving Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami CF, Jude Bellingham’s transfer to Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund was confirmed on Wednesday. announcing that the 19-year-old has agreed a six-year contract with the LaLiga giants.
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With Dortmund set to receive an initial €103 million fee for the England midfielder, Bellingham’s move will become the fifth biggest of all time once all his various add-ons are taken into account. Indeed, the German club confirmed that Real could eventually pay an extra 30% of that initial fee for the 19-year-old, who as agreed a six-year contract.
With Bellingham’s total fee therefore standing at somewhere around the €134m mark, he nudges Paul Pogba out of the top 10 biggest transfer fees in football history.
Pogba re-joined Manchester United from Juventus in the summer of 2016 for what was at the time a world-record transfer. The fee, which was just higher than that which Real Madrid paid to sign Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, has been shunted out of the top 10 just six years later.
Here’s how the new top 10 looks with Bellingham added to the list (all transfer fees include add-ons inserted into deal.)
The world record still belongs to Neymar, and is likely to for some time yet. The Brazil international signed for Paris Saint-Germain after the Ligue 1 side triggered the forward’s enormous release clause — which Barca had (erroneously) believed was prohibitively high.
2. Kylian Mbappe €180m (AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain, 2018)
The following summer, PSG again went big in order to land one of the most coveted talents in world football from fellow Ligue 1 rivals Monaco. The €180m deal saw Mbappe spend the 2017-18 season on loan at PSG before the transfer was made permanent the following summer.
After proving his mettle at Liverpool, Coutinho made the move to Barcelona in the summer of 2018, becoming the Catalan club’s most expensive signing ever in the process. Things didn’t really pan out for Coutinho at Camp Nou and, following a mediocre loan spell at Bayern Munich, the Brazil midfielder ditched Barca in favour of a return to the Premier League with Aston Villa in January 2022.
4. Ousmane Dembele €147m (Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona, 2017
Borussia Dortmund were again the beneficiaries when Barcelona signed the 20-year-old Dembele in what was then the second-most expensive deal in history. The wily French winger, who was only at Dortmund for a year, agreed a five-year contract as part of a package that included an initial €105m fee plus up to €42m in add-ons.
5. Jude Bellingham €134m (Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid, 2023)
The latest addition to the top 10 was finalised this week, with teen sensation Bellingham leaving Dortmund to join Real Madrid in a deal that is likely to rise to €134m once the performances of player and club over the next six years are taken into into account.
Felix was 19 when he completed his club-record transfer to Atletico in July 2019 after just one season as a senior professional. The €126m deal — which included €30m paid upfront and the rest made up in instalments — saw Felix become the second-most expensive teenager, eclipsed only by Mbappe.
Chelsea set a new Premier League transfer record in January 2023 when they met the €121m release clause required to sign World Cup-winning midfielder Fernandez from Benfica. After playing a starring role for Argentina at Qatar 2022, the 22-year-old moved to the Blues after agreeing an extensive 8½-year contract.
8. Antoine Griezmann €120m (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona, 2019)
Griezmann finally completed his move to Barcelona one year after appearing to tease and then renege on an offer to join the Catalans as part of a self-made, LeBron James-inspired mini-documentary called “La Decision.” Barca eventually paid the French forward’s €120m release clause to lure him from Atleti, only for him to return to the Rojiblancos two years later for just €20m.
Grealish became the Premier League’s most expensive player when he joined Manchester City from boyhood club Aston Villa ahead of the 2021-22 season. That title has since been taken by Enzo Fernandez but the England international is still at least able to boast that he was the first £100m player in British football history.
A decade since first arriving at Chelsea, Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan in the summer of 2021 for a then-club record fee that was just shy of the British-record amount paid by Man City for Grealish a few weeks prior. The transfer took the Belgian’s cumulative career transfer fee beyond the €335m mark, though he failed to deliver and scored just eight goals for the Blues before darting back to Inter on loan for the 2022-23 season.