The 100m euro transfer curse


Real Madrid broke the 100 million euro barrier to sign Gareth Bale Frome Tottenham back in 2013, making the Welshman the first player to be involved in a deal of that size.

?Bale was the first to enter a club in which there are now 12 members, but few have been able to match the expectations that have followed their moves.

Bale scored 106 goals and provided 67 assists in 258 games for Real Madrid. He won 16 titles, including five Champions Leagues, before leaving this summer for the MLS side Los Angeles FC.

Considering the performances of other players to have been bought for more than 100m euros, Bale‘s figures are all the more impressive. The latest to fall short of the expected standard is Romelu Lukakuwho joined Chelsea Frome Inter last summer for 113 million euros, only to return to Italy on loan a year later.

Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain: 222 million euros (2017)

The Ligue 1 side broke records and limits by spending 222 million euros to trigger Neymar‘s release clause at Barcelonabut it hasn’t quite gone to plan due to a series of injuries since he’s been in France.

He has 100 goals and 60 assists in 144 games, which is an impressive return, but the number of appearances is not what was expected. In all, he has 11 titles, but not the coveted Champions League.

Kylian Mbappe to PSG: 180m euros (2018)

Initially arriving that same summer as Neymar but on loan from Monaco, Mbappe‘s signing was made permanent a year later. He has 170 goals and 88 assists in 216 games since, and he has recently rejected Real Madrid to extend until 2025.

The World Cup winner is an exception to the curse.

Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona: 140m euros (2017)

Neymar‘s exit left Barcelona needing a replacement, and they found one in Lazy, or so they thought. They splashed big money to sign the winger, but his time at the Camp Nou was largely underwhelming and plagued by injuries.

Xavi Hernandez ‘s arrival saw things improve, but now he could walk away on a free transfer as he looks increasingly unlikely to renew.


Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona: 135m euros (2018)

Similarly to Lazy, Coutinho arrived at Barcelona nor did they seek to rebuild, and with Andres Iniesta leaving as well. Having impressed with Liverpool he should have shone at the Camp Nou, but he never quite settled despite starting reasonably well.

Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid: 127.2m euros (2019)

Atletico signed Benfica‘s golden boy for big money, taking a risk on one of the hottest young talents in Europe. He has shown signs of his brilliance underneath Diego Simeonebut there is a feeling that he’ll never quite hit the heights he could reach under the Argentine.

Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona: 120m euros (2019)

The Catalans signed a world champion in Griezmannbut he scored just 33 times and assisted 15 in 101 games before returning to Atletico Madrid.

Jack Grealish to Manchester City: 117.5m euros (2021)

Aston Villa Had a diamond and everybody wanted Grealishsoft City spent big to sign him. He played a bit last season, but had just 10 goal contributions in 39 games. Not a bad start, but more was expected.

Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus: 117m euros (2018)

His 101 goals and 22 assists in 134 games suggest that he is an exception to the curse, and on a personal level he is. But during his time in Turin Juventus lost their stranglehold on Serie A, with Inter and now AC Milan being crowned champions. He also failed to help Juventus to Champions League success and there’s an argument that his signing hamstrung the club and forced them backwards.

Eden Hazard to Real Madrid: 115m euros (2019)

Having shone with Chelsea, Hazard was expected to help Los Blancos get over Cristiano Ronaldo‘s exit a year earlier. But he’s played just 66 times in three years, having been plagued by injuries, and has never really shown his old self.

Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea: 113m euros (2021)

The Belgian’s second Stamford Bridge adventure wasn’t much better than his first. His first spell saw him play 15 times and loaned out a lost, but after his return he scored 15 times in 44 games, but he fell out with Thomas Tuchel and has now gone back on loan to Inter for a fee of eight million euros.

Paul Pogba to Manchester United: 105m euros (2016)

Pogba‘s announcement video with Stormzy remains one of his most memorable Old Trafford moments, despite the hype that surrounded his return from Juventus in 2016. He played 233 times, scored 39 goals and assisted 51. He did win the Europa League, but the coaching changes at the club haven’t helped him. Now, he’ll move from United them Juventus on a free transfer for the second time.



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