When looking at the most expensive transfer fees of all time, many of the best attacking players are present. The top ten transfers of all time feature either strikers or attacking midfielders. Looking farther down the list, until the top twenty reveals the same pattern, attacking players and strikers. The 28th most expensive transfer is the first transfer to feature a defender. While the transfer market may not value defenders as much as attacking players, the league tables of the five main European leagues reveals a different story. The current leaders of the French, German and English leagues, Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Chelsea respectively, all have conceded the fewest goals in their leagues. In Italy, AS Roma have conceded the fewest goals and lie second in their league, trailing Juventus who have conceded the second fewest goals. In Spain, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are tied for the league lead in points and Athletico have conceded the fewest goals with Barcelona a close second and Real Madrid third on that list.
This list details the most expensive transfers for defenders in history. All the transfer fee figures were converted from British pounds to US dollars. The list features one English player, one Italian, one French player, three Portuguese defenders and four Brazilian defenders. Even though these two countries are known for their attacking players and feature some of the world’s best and most expensive, their defenders are also highly rated and amongst the most expensive at their positions. Here are the top ten most expensive transfer fees spent on defenders.
10. Ricardo Carvalho, F.C. Porto to Chelsea – $33.36 Million
In 2004, when Jose Mourinho moved from F.C Porto to Chelsea, the Portuguese manager also brought Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho with him. Chelsea paid $33.36 million for the central defender who was instrumental in winning the 2003/2004 Champions League for Porto. In his six year tenure with the London club, Carvalho won three premier league titles, three FA cups and three league cups and formed a solid defensive partnership with Chelsea captain John Terry. After his six year stint with Chelsea, Carvalho moved to Real Madrid and was reunited with Jose Mourinho. The 35 year old Carvalho currently plays his club football for French side AS Monaco.
9. David Luiz, Benfica to Chelsea – $35.53 Million
Another Chelsea defender makes the list of most expensive signings. In January 2011, Chelsea signed Brazilian defender David Luiz from Portuguese side Benfica for $35.53 million. In his time at the London club, Luiz helped Chelsea win a FA cup, a Europa League title and the Champions League. The 26 year old Luiz is a popular player amongst Chelsea supporters but his defensive qualities have been questioned by his managers. During the 2012/2013 season, Rafa Benitez often preferred to play Luiz as a defensive midfield player and under, current manager, Jose Mourinho, Luiz is not a first choice defender and has played in midfield.
8. Lilian Thuram, Parma to Juventus – $36.7 Million
In the summer of 2001, Lilian Thuram, a World Cup and Euro Cup winner with France, was signed by Juventus for $36.7 million from Parma, the most expensive transfer for a defender at the time. The French defender was versatile enough to play either as a right back or play in the center of defense. In five seasons at the Turin club, Thuram made 200 appearances and won the Italian league title four times and the Italian Super Cup twice. Though, two of the league titles were taken from Juventus as a result of a match fixing scandal. Thuram, who is now 42, retired after the 2008 season after spending his last three seasons playing for Barcelona.
7. Dani Alves, Sevilla to Barcelona – $39.2 Million
In the summer of 2008, Barcelona signed Dani Alves from Spanish side Sevilla for $39.2 million. At the time, the Brazilian right back was the third most expensive defender in the world. Since arriving at Barcelona, Alves has been a regular first team selection and has helped the Catalan club win the Spanish league title four times, the Champions League twice and the FIFA Club World Cup twice. Alves, who is 30 years old, is still a first choice right back for Barcelona and for the Brazilian national side as well. He helped Brazil win the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil and the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.
T5. Fabio Coentrao, Benfica to Real Madria – $42.03 Million
Fabio Coentrao is the second defender on this list who has been transferred from Portuguese club Benfica. In the summer of 2011, Real Madrid signed the Portuguese left back from Benfica for $42.03 million. At Real Madrid, the 25 year old Coentrao was able to combine well with Portuguese national teammate Christiano Ronaldo. Although recently, the left back has found it hard to find a regular place in the Real Madrid side and has often played out of position as a left winger, defensive midfielder and even as a right back. In his first season at Madrid, Coentrao helped the team win the Spanish League title.
T5. Pepe, F.C. Porto to Real Madrid – $42.03 Million
Tied with his Real Madrid teammate with a $42.03 million transfer fee is another Portuguese defender, Pepe, who is the second player on this list to be transferred from F.C Porto. Pepe moved to Real Madrid from Portuguese club F.C Porto in the summer of 2007. In his tenure with Real Madrid, Pepe has won the La Liga title twice. Pepe has been a regular in the center of the Madrid defense and has also played as a defensive midfielder in a pinch. Pepe who is 30 years old is still currently playing at Madrid. Pepe was born in Brazil, but has represented Portugal in two European Championships and once in a World Cup.
4. Alessandro Nesta, Lazio to A.C. Milan – $43.53 Million
In the summer of 2002, AC Milan signed Italian international Alessandro Nesta from Lazio for $43.53 million. Lazio was forced to sell some of their most influential players due to a financial crisis at the Rome club. In his ten years at Milan, Nesta won two Serie A titles, one FIFA World Cup and the Champions League twice, also losing a final. Nesta was also part of the 2006 Italian national teamwhich won the World Cup. Nesta was a constant in the center of the Milan defense and is considered one of the best defenders of his generation, making the UEFA Team of the Year four times. The 37 year old Nesta retired after the 2013 season, playing his final season with the Montreal Impact.
3. Rio Ferdinand, Leeds United to Manchester United – $50.04 Million
In the summer of 2002, Manchester United broke the British transfer record to sign Rio Ferdinand from rivals Leeds United for $50.04 million. In his time at United, Ferdinand has won the Premier League title six times, the League Cup twice, the FIFA World Cup once and the Champions League once (losing in two finals). Due to a missed drug test in 2003, Ferdinand was suspended from January 2004 to September 2004, missing half the Premier League season and the European Championships for England. Ferdinand was also the Manchester United captain, an honor he lost due to various injuries. The 35 year old Ferdinand is still part of the Manchester United squad and his current contract runs until the end of the 2013/2014 season.
2. Marquinhos, Roma to Paris Saint Germain – $50.21 Million
The youngest member of this list is Brazilian central defender Marquinhos. Marquinhos, who is 19 years old, was signed by French champions Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma in the summer of 2013 for $50.21 million. Marquinhos is a highly rated youngster and was named as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe by The Guardian. 2013 saw Marquinhos make his international debut for the Brazilian national team as a substitute in a friendly. Marquinhos joined Brazilian compatriots Alex and Thiago Silva at the Parisian club. He has had impressive performances this season and may replace Alex as the automatic starting central defender alongside Silva if his form continues.
1. Thiago Silva, A.C. Milan to Paris Saint Germain – $58.88 Million
Marquinhos’ club and international teammate, Thiago Silva is the number one player on this list. Silva is thought to be one of the best defenders in the world currently and his large transfer fee is a fair reflection. In the summer of 2012, Silva transferred from A.C. Milan to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) for a fee of $58.88 million. In his first season with the Parisian club in 2012/2013, Silva captained the team to their first League Championship since 1994. The 29 year old Silva also captained Brazil to the 2013 Confederations Cup title. He also was a silver medalist for Brazil during the 2012 London Olympics. Currently PSG sit top of Ligue 1 and have qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League.