5. Edinson Cavani
Napoli to Paris Saint German for 64.5 million Euros
Progressing in descending order, Edinson Cavani starts our list of the most expensive footballers (soccer players) in the world.
Edinson Cavani is a Uruguayan striker who could be classed as a all round forward, possessing excellent technical ability alongside physical strength, height and speed. He is known for scoring sensational goals and tirelessly chasing the ball down. Cavani started his professional career at Palermo in Italy's Serie A division, making his first team debut at the age of 19. Whilst at Palermo he made 109 league appearances, scoring 34 goals in the process.
In July 2010 Cavani moved to Italian side Napoli for a reported fee worth €17 million total, and signed a 5 year deal with the club. Over the course of three seasons at Napoli Cavani made 104 league appearances for the club and scored an incredible 78 goals, obviously boosting his transfer value massively and making him one of the most sought after strikers in the world. With multiple top clubs interested in the 26 year old's signature, including Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint German, it was obvious that Cavani would go for a hefty price tag. Eventually it was the mega rich Paris Saint German who won the race for Edinson's signature, securing a deal with Napoli for €64.5 million.
As of March 2014 Cavani has made 24 league appearances for PSG and scored 14 goals, forging a fearsome striking partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the process.
AC Milan to Real Madrid for 68.5 million Euros
Kaká is next on our list of most expensive footballers in the world. A Brazilian playing in an advanced midfield position just behind the striker(s), he is known for his massive array of technical abilities, and is excellent at shooting (both in one on one situations and from range), dribbling and intuitive passing vision, as well as the ability to play the passes he sees. One great quote claimed that he "combined European directness with Brazilian flair better than any player I have ever seen". He has won numerous awards at individual, club, and international levels. He is also known for his religiousness and charitability.
Kaká started his career in his native Brazil with Sao Paulo, signing a contract at the age of 15. He made his professional debut in 2001 aged 18, and went on to score 23 goals in 59 appearances for the club. In 2003 he had attracted a lot of interest from European giants, and the time came for him to make the move. AC Milan shelled out €8.5 million for the youngster, and he signed a contract with the reigning European champions.
In his debut season with AC Milan, Kaká made 30 appearances, scoring 10 goals and many important assists, winning the Serie A title in the process. Such was his impact that he was nominated for the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year; the two most prestigious individual awards. Over the next four seasons with Milan, Kaká was nominated for the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards a further 3 times, finally winning both individual awards in 2007. During this time he also added the UEFA Champion's League trophy to his list of honours. He ended his reign in Italy with 70 goals in 193 league appearances, alongside many goals and assists in the UEFA Champion's League.
At the beginning of the 2009 summer transfer window, Real Madrid approached Milan with a €68.5 million bid, and by the 8th June Kaká had moved to the Spanish giants to become part of the "new Galactico" era that Florentino Perez was aiming to create. Unfortunately, Kaká's four seasons at Real Madrid were plagued by injuries, however when he played he was in top form as usual, scoring 32 goals and adding 32 assists to that over 120 appearances for the club and adding the La Liga title and the Copa Del Rey to his major trophy honours.
In 2013 Kaká decided he wanted to leave Real Madrid, and made the move back to his European love, AC Milan, on a free transfer. In his second debut Kaká was forced off through injury, and made the honourable decision to refuse his wages until he returned to full fitness. As of March 2014 Kaká has made 20 appearances for Milan, scoring 5 goals and adding 3 assists.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Inter Milan to Barcelona for 69.5 million Euros
Number 3 on our list of most expensive footballers is the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Swedish striker who has been compared in playing style to the legendary striker Marco van Basten. He is known for his technique and the creative way he attempts to score, including the 2013 FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year for his outrageous overhead bicycle kick against England.
Ibrahimovic startd his career with Malmö FF of his native Sweden, and made his first team debut aged 18. Over his 40 appearances for the club he scored 16 goals, before attracting the attention of slightly bigger European clubs. He made the move to Ajax for €8.7 million in 2001. During Zlatan's time in the Netherlands, he won his first club honour, the Eredvisie title and was involved in his of many first major controversies. This occurred during an international match between Sweden and Netherlands, where Rafael Van der Vaart publicly accused Ibrahimovic of purposely injuring him. This led to Ibrahimovic threatening to break Van der Vaart's legs, and concluded in Ajax selling Ibrahimovic to Juventus for €16 million. Ending his spell at Ajax with 35 goals in 74 league appearances.
The next 2 seasons at Juventus were fairly poor by Ibrahimovic's standards, scoring 23 goals in 70 league appearances, and often criticised for his anonymity during important matches. Then came the Calciopoli scandal in 2006, where Juventus were stripped of their last two Serie A titles due to their part in match fixing, they were also relegated to Serie B as a punishment. Many top players left the club during this time, despite the staff's best efforts to keep them, and Ibrahimovic was no exception, moving to Inter Milan in a deal worth €24.8 million.
During his first season at Inter Milan, Ibrahimovic finished as the club's top scorer with 15 goals, and helped the club win it's first league title in 17 years. During this season they amassed a record 97 Serie A points and won a record 17 consecutive league matches. Over his next two seasons at Inter Milan, Ibrahimovic won the Serie A a further two times and won the Italian Golden Boot with 25 league goals in his final season with Internazionale. Inter and Barcelona came to an agreement over Ibrahimovic in 2009, with a large sum of money, Samuel Eto'o and Alexander Hleb moving in Inter's direction, and Ibrahimovic moving to the Spanish giants. The deal was worth €69.5 million total, making it the 3rd largest transfer in history.
Controvery seems to follow Zlatan Ibrahimovic everywhere he goes, with Barcelona being no exception. Despite the hefty transfer fee, his time in Spain lasted just one season, where he scored 16 goals in 29 league appearances and won the La Liga title with Barcelona (amassing a record 99 points, for the second time in his career). At the end of the 2009-10 season he announced that his relationship with Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola had deteriorated beyond repair, and the manager hadn't spoken to him since March. The reported incident involved Ibrahimovic screaming at Guardiola and throwing a training kit at him, this culminated in Guardiola loaning him out to AC Milan.
The loan move to AC Milan allowed the Italian club an option to buy Ibrahimovic at the end of the season for €24 million. In his first season at Milan, Ibrahimovic once again won the Serie A title, making it 8 consecutive league title wins for the Swede. Whilst his second season with Milan didn't see them win any major honours, Ibrahimovic broke his personal record of 25 goals in a domestic season, finishing the 2011-12 season with an excellent 28 goals in 32 matches. His time at AC Milan wasn't without controversies however, with Ibrahimovic involved in a training ground fight with Onguchi Onyewu, and also receiving a 3 match ban for punching an opposition player in the stomach. At the end of the 2011-12 season AC Milan and the mega rich Paris Saint German came to an agreement of a €20 million transfer fee, taking his total transfer fees for €180 million, a record that still stands.
Becoming Paris Saint German's top goalscorer and the spear of their newly acquired attacking talent, Ibrahimovic netted 30 times in the league in the 2012-13 season and helped PSG win their first title in nearly 20 years, making it 9 league titles in 10 seasons for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
As of March 2014, Ibrahimovic has scored 25 goals and provided 11 assists in 29 appearances for Paris Saint German in the 2013-14 season, forming one part of a lethal striking partnership with Edinson Cavani.
2. Christiano Ronaldo
Manchester United to Real Madrid for 94 million Euros
2nd on our list of most expensive footballers in the world is Christiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as one of the best football players in the planet, alongside Lionel Messi. He plays in a wide range of attacking positions, he can play as a left or right winger, as a central attacking player or in the out and out strikers role. He has excellent technique and accuracy with both feet, as well as being an extremely good header of the ball. Ronaldo is known for his free kick ability, long shooting, dribbling and finishing in one on one situations. Alongside his technical ability he is extremely fast and a high jumper, making him the modern day epitomy of an all round player. He has been mentioned to be one of the greatest players of all time, alongside Lionel Messi. Both players are currently breaking all manner of goalscoring records for their respective teams.
Christiano Ronaldo started his professional career at Sporting CP in Portugal, making his debut aged 17. During a match against Manchester United, where Sporting defeated the English club 3-1, the Manchester United players were impressed by the young Portuguese, and urged Alex Ferguson to sign the winger. In 2003 Ferguson made the move, signing Ronaldo for €15 million, and making him Manchester United's first ever Portuguese player. Ronaldo's 7 year tenure at Manchester United saw him undergo a drastic change, where he progressed from what some saw as an arrogant, weak child with showboating skills to a strong, athletic man with the greatest technical ability imaginable. During his time at Manchester United he won a number of club awards as well as personal awards. These include three Premier League Titles, two English League Cups, one FA Cup and one UEFA Champions League title. In addition Ronaldo won the coveted Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008, as well as finishing top goalscorer in the Premier League in 2008 (equalling the record of 31 goals), winning all four coveted Player of the Year awards for the league and winning the first ever FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year award for a 40 yard screamer against FC Porto.
In 2009, Christiano Ronaldo once again asked to leave the club for his boyhood favourites, Real Madrid. This request was accepted by Alex Ferguson, and at the start of the 2009 summer transfer window Christiano Ronaldo became the most expensive footballer in history, with Real Madrid completed a €94 million transfer for him, closing his Manchester United account on 84 goals in 196 league appearances. Since his transfer to Real Madrid, Christiano Ronaldo has gone from strength to strength, breaking multiple individual records. Many think that if it weren't for the excellence of Lionel Messi, he would have won every Ballon d'Or since. Since moving to the "New Galacticos" in 2009, Ronaldo has scored 171 league goals in 159 appearances. Some of his personal records include being the fastest player to score 150 La Liga goals, most goals scored in a single season for Madrid (60), most goals scored in a single La Liga season for Madrid (46), most hat tricks in a season for Madrid (7) and fastest player to reach 50, 100, 150 and 200 goals for Real Madrid. This is just a small sample of his honours, which also include being Portugal's top all time scorer (49 goals). During his time at Real Madrid he has secured one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey trophy, and received his second Ballon d'Or award in 2013.
1. Gareth Bale
Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for 100 million Euros
First on our list of most expensive footballers in the world is Gareth Bale, who moved from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013 for €100 million. Bale is lauded for his physical abilities, including explosive acceleration and blistering pace along with the strength and height he possesses. This, coupled with his fearsome left foot, great crossing ability, shooting technique and free kick speciality makes him one of the most fear attacking players in the world.
Gareth Bale started his professional career at Southampton, playing in the left back position and praised for his free kick taking. He made his debut ages just 16 years old and went on to make 40 appearances for Southampton, scoring 5 goals, before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 for a total fee of £7 million.
His career at Spurs was a slow starter, he was employed at left back, and his first few seasons were riddled with injuries. It took 24 league matches before Gareth Bale was finally on the winning side with Tottenham, a record that still stands. It was in the 2010-11 season when Bale shot to prominence, after helping Tottenham finish in a UEFA Champions League position the season before, he would be involved in Europe's elite competition for the first time. Maicon of Inter Milan, widely regarded as one of the best right backs in the world at the time, was terrorised by Bale in the group matches they played against each other, with Bale scoring his first hat trick at the San Siro in a 4-3 defeat against the reigning European champions. Bale also won the Man of the Match award for the return encounter at White Hart Lane, where Spurs managed a shock 3-1 win over the Italians. His season continued to go from strength to strength, and he picked up the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in the 2010-2011 season.
After his stunning performances in the previous season, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp decided to abandon Bale's left back role and move him further up the field permanently to make use of his attacking prowess, eventually he was employed in a free role playing just behind the main striker(s), which he later thrived in. Over the next few seasons Gareth Bale went from strength to strength, revelling in his new attacking role and as the focal point of the team. To illustrate this, in the 2012-2013 season he was awarded the PFA Players' Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and FWA Player of the Year awards. This led to huge interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid, and at the very end of the transfer window Gareth Bale moved to Real Madrid for a reported €100 million, making him the most expensive footballer in history. He left White Hart Lane with 42 goals in 146 league appearances.
Gareth Bale went through another injury crisis in the first half of his first season with Real Madrid, missing much of his debut season, but he has since regained his form and has scored 10 and assisted 11 in 20 appearances for Real Madrid. Ages just 24, Bale obviously has a bright future ahead of him at one of the biggest football clubs in the world.