Italian football has, in the past few decades, ranked itself as highly as the Premiership, the Bundesliga and La Liga This is perhaps made even clearer when looking at the list of fantastic players who are making their way in and out of Serie A for ridiculous sums of money. While the top two highest transfer fees of all time in football are unassociated with Serie A, namely the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer from Man United to Real Madrid in 2009 for 80 million pounds, and the more recent Gareth Bale transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013 for 86 million pounds, a large amount of the largest transfers in the world are going in and out of the top Italian league. It is somewhat surprising, as the English Premier League tends to claim the majority of the football publicity overseas, that Serie A has such a command over the most expensive and most sought after players in football. The transfer fees for players has been steadily increasing over the past 10 or 15 years due to things like inflation and the rapid increase in revenue for football as a whole, and yet some of the names on this list collected some amazing sums for their services over ten years ago. This list is a collection of the top ten biggest transfer fees in Serie A history. The dollar amounts have been calculated based on a current exchange rate from British Pounds to American Dollars
Of course there are those few transfers who might have made it on to the list had the exchange rate been different. For example, the Gianluigi Buffon transfer in 2001 from Parma to Juventus had a value of around 30 million Pounds which was 45 million Euros at the time. Buffon, arguably one of the greatest goalies to have played the game, still plays for Juventus and is coming up to 400 caps for the side. He has also yet to retire from international football and has played an incredible 138 games for Italy. Others who were close to making the top ten were Ronaldo (30 million pounds), Andriy Schevchenko (30 million pounds), and Gaizka Mendieta (29 million pounds).
10 Christian Vieri – $52 Million (Lazio to Inter Milan 1999)
The fact that such a large transfer fee was collected for Vieri before the millennium rolled around is an indication of just how in-demand he was. The $52 million (31 million pounds) transfer fee must have been worth it for Inter Milan, as Vieri appeared 143 times for them and racked up an incredible tally of 103 goals. This high rate of performance during his time at Inter was helped by a great supporting cast of fantastic players, including the Brazilian legend Ronaldo, however due to frequent injuries for each of them, they did not play together as often as was anticipated. The 2001-2002 season was perhaps the most incredible for Vieri as he racked up an incredible 22 goals in 25 games. Vieri, now 40 years old, retired after the 2009 season with Atalanta and finished with a career total of 374 games and 194 goals.
9 Marquinhos (Marcos Aoás Corrêa) - $52.1 Million (Roma to PSG 2013)
At just 19 years old, this guy might just be the most expensive prospect in sports today. Costing Paris St. Germain over $50 million (31.1 million pounds), they are obviously expecting to see some serious results coming from the young Brazilian defender. Marquinhos put in some solid performances over 26 games with Roma last season, but is still considered to be somewhat of a raw defender. All the same, PSG paid the high price tag and Marquinhos has netted his first goal of the season this year and had 9 appearances for the French side. It remains to be seen whether this young defender can live up to the price tag on his head.
8 Filippo Inzaghi - $53 Million (Juventus to AC Milan 2001)
Pippo Inzaghi is a well recognized name in Italian football, and football as a whole. Even so, the $53 million (31 million pound) price tag must have seemed a lot to the management of AC Milan back in 2001. His performances between Zinedine Zidane and Alessandro Del Piero helped him rack up 57 goals in 127 appearances with Juventus which was enough for AC Milan to decide that he was the guy for them – and they made the right call. Inzaghi spent the longest portion of his career at AC Milan, where he appeared over 200 times for the club. He also netted 73 goals while he was there but unfortunately missed out on the 200 goal mark by three for his career total. Inzaghi, now forty years old, played at AC Milan until the end of the 2012 season before retiring.
7 Gonzalo Higuain - $57.75 Million (Real Madrid to Napoli 2013)
At 26 years old, Gonzalo Higuain has certainly had the time to prove why he is worth the price tag of over $57 million (34.5 million pounds) – and prove it he has. During his time at Real Madrid, from 2007-2013, he appeared 190 times and scored 107 goals for an incredible average. Perhaps more impressive still is his international record, as the Argentinean striker has scored 21 goals in just 31 games for his country. The move must have seemed like a great one for Napoli as his first goal came in his debut appearance in a 2-1 win over Benfica. Since that game he has had 11 more goals in 21 appearances making the price tag seem like better and better value. His best full season for Real Madrid came in 2009-2010 where he played in 32 league games and found the back of the net 27 times.
6 Thiago Silva - $58.6 Million (AC Milan to PSG 2012)
This talented center-back, who is widely considered the best CB in the world, has spent the majority of his career being highly sought after. Although Thiago Silva spent 2009-2012 playing for AC Milan, there were hints that the useful defender would be joining Paris long before the transfer took place. His time in Milan was well spent however, as he appeared nearly 100 times and even found the back of the net 5 times during his stay. His first goal however, was somewhat muted as it was immediately followed in the same game by his first own goal for the club against Lazio. This didn’t appear to have shaken the young Brazilian’s confidence however, as he eventually made the move in 2012 to PSG for $58.6 million (35 million pounds) and has so far played 40 games and scored 3 times. His international career, which began in 2008, could already be looked upon as positive as he has appeared 44 times and scored twice for the Brazilian national team.
5 Hernan Crespo - $64.5 Million (Parma to Lazio 2000)
For most of us, the millennium does not really seem like it was actually fourteen years ago, but when you think about it, the transfer fee of $64.5 million (38.5 million pounds) for Hernan Crespo really was an incredible sum of money back then – the transfer broke the world record. It must have seemed like a great move for Lazio to pounce on the phenomenal striker as he had scored 62 goals for Parma in just 116 games, and his debut season with Lazio saw him lead Serie A with 26 goals in 32 games. His stay in Lazio was, however, short lived as he only spent 2 seasons with the club before moving on several more times. Over the course of his career, Crespo spent the majority of his time playing in Serie A, but for a variety of different teams (Inter Milan twice, Genoa, Parma, Lazio). The 38 year old retired at the end of the 2012 season with Parma having still scored 10 times that year in 46 games.
4 Zinedine Zidane - $77 Million (Juventus to Real Madrid 2001)
Now, for the younger audience who only seem to remember Zizu as “the guy who headbutted that guy in the world cup final,” it might seem shocking to think that Zidane could have been worth $77 million (46 million pounds) all the way back in 2001. The fact of the matter is, he was a consistent producer, with all-around talent and goal scoring ability throughout his long career. His international career, despite his final game, remains untarnished as he produced countless chances for the French national team and found the back of the net himself 31 times in 108 appearances. His consistently high standard of play at Juventus (151 games and 24 goals) was enough for the management at Real Madrid to decide that they wanted him on their side in 2001. It was a great move for the club and for the Frenchman, as he played 155 games and scored 37 goals before retiring as one of the great midfielders in the game at the end of the 2006 season.
3 Edinson Cavani - $92.1 Million (Napoli to PSG 2013)
The third spot on this list cost Paris St. Germain an incredible $92.1 million (55 million pounds) to possess. At 27 years old, the Uruguayan striker has had a great deal of time to prove that he is worth the money. His time spent in Serie A, at Napoli, was nothing short of phenomenal as he appeared for the club 104 times and found the net 78 times. Edinson Cavani has also lent his skills to the Uruguayan international squad 60 times and scored 20 goals. Cavani’s best season for Napoli was his final season with the club (2012-2013) when he scored 29 goals in just 34 games as the Serie A leading goal scorer for the season. This was enough for Paris to muster up the staggering transfer fee for his services. Since the move, Cavani has showed no signs of slowing down and has scored 13 times in just 20 appearances with the French club.
2 Kaka (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite) - $93.75 Million (AC Milan to Real Madrid 2009)
After appearing nearly 200 times for AC Milan and scoring 70 goals for the club, Real Madrid once again decided that they needed this kind of talent on their team. Edging closer and closer to the 100 million dollar mark, Madrid parted with $93.75 million dollars (56 million pounds) for the services of the useful Brazilian attacking midfielder. Kaka performed decently during his short stay at the Spanish club as he played 85 games and found the net 23 times for a respectable tally. It must have seemed however, to the management at Madrid, that they got the raw end of the deal, as Kaka returned to AC Milan in September 2013 on a free transfer. The 31 year old is currently still playing in Milan and since his return, he has netted 5 goals in 13 appearances. Kaka has also yet to retire internationally and has so far played 87 games for Brazil and scored 29 times. A great all-round player, though he undergone some serious depreciation over the three year stretch at Real Madrid.
1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic - $98.8 Million (Inter Milan to Barcelona 2009)
The top spot on our list is taken by the dangerous Swedish Striker, and at nearly $100 million, he did not come cheap for Barcelona. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record at Inter Milan (88 games and 57 goals) was obviously good enough for Barcelona to break the bank. His stay in Barcelona was incredibly short lived for such a high transfer fee, as he only played 29 games for the club and scored just 16 times before parting ways with the club due to apparent conflicts with the coaching staff. Ibrahimovic, now 32 years old, regained his form after his spell at Barca with AC Milan and scored 42 goals for the Italian club. He has yet to announce his retirement from international football and currently has 98 caps and 48 goals for Sweden. Since 2012, Ibrahimovic has been playing for Paris St. Germain and has kept up his incredible form by scoring 49 times in just 58 appearances for the club.