The January transfer season continues to be a near constant source of entertainment for soccer fans. By now some notable names have confirmed to be switching sides, such as the finalization of the long-awaited move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich of polish striker Robert Lewandowski. That transfer was expected, but the real fun comes with the surprise sales and the speculation, and no one does media speculation quite like the English. That’s why transfer speculation for the English Premier League tends to be so much fun.
The English Premier League was founded in 1992, when the top teams of the old Football Division decided to break away from the existing league to form their own organization and take advantage of a lucrative TV deal. It is ranked 2nd according to UEFA’s league coefficient system, and has become the most widely viewed league in the world, broadcasted to over 643 million homes.
Because of this international presence the Premier League is one of the few sports organizations on Earth that can boast a truly global following. Naturally, the globalization of the fan base has prompted an increase in international talent, since players come from all over the world to showcase their skills. The eagerness to acquire the best talent from abroad makes transfer windows in the Premier League all the more exciting, as the major clubs can have their pick of the best players in other leagues, if the price is right.
Will Juan Mata leave Chelsea to get the playing time he’s been lacking under new Chelsea coach José Mourihno? Will Arsenal be able to pick up a quality striker they need to alternate between the overworked Olivier Giroud? Most of the media reports tend to be nothing substantial, but sometimes the rumors have some teeth to them, and we’ll be breaking down the ten most expensive transfers in the history of the Premier League that made the transition from rumor to reality.
10 Lassana Diarra - Transfer Fee: €20,000,000 ($27.2 million USD)
Our 10th, 9th, and 8th entry on the list are all tied at €20,000,000, but we'll begin with defensive midfielder Lassana Diarra, who is somewhat of a mercenary. By the age of 23 the Frenchman had already played for Le Havre, Chelsea, Arsenal and finally Portsmouth, where he began the 2008/2009 season. No stranger to big moves, he gladly accepted the call when Real Madrid, arguably the most successful club in history, came calling. His €20,000,000 transfer saw Portsmouth receive a sizeable cash injection, while Diarra gained the opportunity to play for the Spanish giants. He would later leave Real Madrid in 2012 to seek more playing time with Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.
9 Mario Balotelli - Transfer Fee: €20,000,000 ($27.2 million USD)
Manchester City signed Mario Balotelli in 2010, where he was part of the squad that won the 2011/2012 Premier League. In December 2012, Balotelli became disenchanted with his stay at City due to a falling out with coach Roberto Mancini, who he had known since their time spent together at Inter Milan, and grievances with disciplinary fines he had been issued by the club. In January 2013 Balotelli was sold to AC Milan for €20,000,000, returning to Serie A to play for his old club’s rivals.
8 José Antonio Reyes - Transfer Fee: €20,000,000 ($27.2 million USD)
Spanish winger José Antonio Reyes made a splash when he arrived in England to join Arsenal from his first club, Spanish side Sevilla, midway through the 2003/2004 season. The €20,000,000 transfer fee left fans of the Gunners with high expectations, and although his first two seasons were relatively successful, he reportedly grew to hate life in London, longing for a return to his native Spain. His wish was granted when he was loaned to Real Madrid for a full season in 2006, and was solidified when his contract was permanently transferred to Atlético Madrid the year after.
7 Nicolas Anelka - Transfer Fee: €21,000,000 ($28.6 million USD)
Like national teammate Lassana Diarra, French striker Nicolas Anelka isn’t a man who can swear allegiance to any one club. When Bolton Wanderers sold his contract to Chelsea in January 2008 for €21,000,000, they became the 8th club the then 28-year-old had played for in his career. Anelka would enjoy a successful 4 ½ seasons for the Blues before being seduced by the giant wages offered by Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua in 2012.
6 Darren Bent - Transfer Fee: €21,500,000 ($29.3 million USD)
The globalization of the Premier League has created an unspoken premium on English players who have the quality to compete. Striker Darren Bent is one such player. He found the net 36 times over two seasons with Sunderland before signing with Aston Villa in January 2011. His €21,500,000 transfer fee was among the highest Aston Villa had ever paid for a player, and he would spend 2 ½ seasons with Villa before being sent on a season-long loan to Fulham at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season.
5 Luis Suárez - Transfer Fee: €26,500,000 ($36.1 million USD)
More often than not it seems that players who command massive transfer fees fail to live up to the price tag. Luis Suárez is not one of those players. When Liverpool signed the Uruguayan striker from Ajax Amsterdam midway through the 2010/2011 season, he helped carry them from an embarrassing 12th to an eventual 6th place finish. His performance at Liverpool, while mired by occasional disciplinary issues on the field, has been nothing short of sensational, and has solidified his position as one of the best players in the world. He recently signed a contract extension in December 2013 that reportedly doubled his wages, and has a rumored release clause of approximately €84,000,000. If he ever decideds to part ways with Liverpool, the club will certainly be getting a sizeable amount of money as consolation.
4 David Luiz - Transfer Fee: €30,000,000 ($40.9 million USD)
Brazilian defender David Luiz was playing for Portuguese club Benfica when Chelsea expressed interest during the winter transfer period of 2010/2011. Luiz, then 23-years-old, jumped at the opportunity to join the English powerhouse. Benfica collected a cool €30,000,000 to part ways with the young player and Chelsea added a key piece to their defensive line, which he continues to be a part of to this day.
3 Edin Dzeko - Transfer Fee: €37,000,000 ($50.5 million USD)
The most expensive winter transfer in Bundesliga history is the 3rd most expensive transfer in Premier League history. The €37,000,000 sale of Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko from Vfl Wolfsburg to Manchester City in 2011 added firepower to the Manchester City frontline, which was looking to put in a serious challenge for the league title for the first time in almost half a century. Dzeko and fellow striker Sergio Aguero helped City accomplish their ambitions when they stole the title out from under rivals Manchester United in memorable fashion, with just minutes left in the 2011/2012 season.
2 Andy Carroll - Transfer Fee: €41,000,000 ($55.9 million USD)
The January transfer window of 2010/2011 was the most prolific in Premier League history. The top 5 entries on our list all took place that year, mere weeks from each other, and began as a domino effect. Liverpool were the club that started the fire, offloading a certain star striker and buying both Luis Suárez and English striker Andy Carroll with the money. The signing of Carroll from Newcastle United turned out to be as terrible as the signing of Suárez was magical. He never reached his potential or lived up to his price tag with Liverpool due to constant injuries, and they would eventually move him to West Ham United, first on a loan for the 2012/2013 season, and then on a permanent basis the following year.
1 Fernando Torres - Transfer Fee: €58,500,000 ($79.8 million USD)
The initial move that prompted the big spending in January 2011 was the sale of Liverpool’s Fernando Torres to Chelsea for an astonishing €58,500,000. Torres’ move to Chelsea is the most expensive January transfer in Premier League history, and the most expensive transfer between two English teams regardless of transfer period. Torres had been clinical for Liverpool and Chelsea wanted someone who could bang in goals with ease. Unfortunately, even though Torres has since had flashes of brilliance and a decent record, most Chelsea fans feel he’s never lived up to the colossal price tag he was brought in for.