10 most expensive MLS transfers of all time

  • Atlanta United have four of the top five most expensive MLS transfers of all time
  • Chucky Lozano's recent move to San Diego FC already ranks in the top ten
  • Only two of the 10 record-breaking signings have won the MLS Cup
Here's the 10 most expensive MLS transfers of all time.
Here's the 10 most expensive MLS transfers of all time. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Over the last five years, Major League Soccer teams have enticed international players to the United States with the most expensive MLS transfer fees of all time.

Although Europe's top five leagues still produce the highest transfer fees in the world, the MLS is slowly catching up. In fact, the transfers happening today were virtually unheard of for most MLS clubs a decade ago. Record signings seem to happen every MLS transfer window now, and more and more big names are choosing to play in the United States and Canada.

Check out the ten most expensive transfers for players joining Major League Soccer.

10 most expensive MLS transfers of all time

10. Cucho Hernández - $10.4 million

Cucho Hernandez
Columbus Crew v Monterrey: Semifinals - Concacaf Champions Cup - Leg One / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The Columbus Crew signed Cucho Hernandez from Watford in 2022 when the Colombian was just 23 years old. The team looked at Cucho to fill the gap left by their former striker, Gyasi Zardes, and he has done just that and more.

The striker played a huge role in the Crew's 2023 MLS Cup win, scoring five goals in the MLS Cup Playoffs, including one in the final against LAFC. He finished the successful 2023 campaign with 24 goals across all competitions.

9. Brian Rodríguez - $11.4 million

Brian Rodriguez
Los Angeles FC v Houston Dynamo - MLS Is Back Tournament / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Brian Rodriguez's start at LAFC showed plenty of promise back in 2019. The midfielder helped the club win the MLS Supporters' Shield in his inaugural season, and even started both MLS Cup Playoff matches for the Black and Gold.

His time in Los Angeles was short-lived, though, as he transferred to Club America in Liga MX just three years later.

8. Rodolfo Pizarro - $11.9 million

Rodolfo Pizarro
Inter Miami CF v New England Revolution / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Rodolfo Pizarro joined Inter Miami in 2020 with a trophy cabinet full of silverware. The Mexican midfielder's impressive resume includes a CONCACAF Gold Cup, two CONCACAF Champions Leagues, and three Liga MX titles.

For just under $12 million, the Herons were hoping Pizarro would make an instant impact for the new club, but his time in the United States was inconsistent at best. The blockbuster signing left the club for AEK Athens in July 2023.

7. Chucky Lozano - $12 million

Hirving Lozano
PSV Eindhoven v RKC Waalwijk - Dutch Eredivisie / BSR Agency/GettyImages

The newest MLS signing is for another record-setting fee. Chucky Lozano became the face of the league's recent expansion team, San Diego FC, for roughly $12 million. The winger is moving on from PSV Eindhoven, where he scored just six goals in 33 appearances, and making his way to the United States.

6. Hugo Cuypers - $12 million

CF Montreal v Chicago Fire FC
CF Montreal v Chicago Fire FC / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Hugo Cuypers' $12 million signing set a club record for the Chicago Fire right before the 2024 MLS season kicked off. The executives behind the team were very open about their desire to sign a striker, and they decided bringing Cuypers to the MLS from Belgium was the best move possible.

So far in 18 matches, the No. 9 has scored six goals and played 1,493 minutes.

5. Luiz Araujo - $12.3 million

Luiz Araujo
Atlanta United FC v New England Revolution / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Fresh off winning Ligue 1 with Lille, Luiz Araujo transferred to Atlanta United for a $12.3 million fee in August 2021. The winger registered 13 goals and 10 assists in his three MLS seasons with the Five Stripes.

Unfortunately for both parties, the Brazilian could not bring his winning ways to Atlanta, and eventually left for Flamengo.

4. Brenner - $12.6 million

Inter Miami CF v FC Cincinnati / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

FC Cincinnati beat out Ajax to sign Brenner in 2021 for roughly $12.6 million. The midfielder helped a struggling club go from last place in the Eastern Conference in 2021 to 5th place in 2022.

Brenner's tenure in the MLS only lasted just over two years, but the Brazilian still managed 27 goals for his club. He left FC Cincinnati to play for Udinese in Serie A.

3. Ezequiel Barco - $13 million

Ezequiel Barco
Chicago Fire FC v Atlanta United / Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Atlanta United's acquisition of Ezequiel Barco came when the midfielder was just 18 years old. After his performance helped Independiente win the 2017 Copa Sudamericana title, Barco garnered the impressive offer from the MLS in 2018 and signed to the Five Stripes as a Young Designated Player.

In somewhat of a trend for Atlanta United's big signings, Barco did not deliver the brilliance a $13 million transfer fee promised. He did, however, win the MLS Cup with the Five Stripes in 2018.

Barco is currently on loan to River Plate.

2. Pity Martinez - $15.5 million

Gonzalo Martínez - Soccer Midfielder
Nashville SC v Atlanta United / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Just one year after Pity Martinez won the 2018 South American Footballer award for his performances at River Plate, the midfielder made a then-record transfer to the MLS for roughly $15.5 million. Martinez recorded 11 goals and 14 assists in 54 MLS matches.

Atlanta United hoped to make the midfielder a long-term player for the Five Stripes, but the Argentine left the club in 2020 to join Al-Nassr for three years before eventually returning to River Plate in 2023.

1. Thiago Almada - $16 million

Thiago Almada
Atlanta United FC v Columbus Crew / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Atlanta United set the all-time record for the most expensive MLS transfer when they signed Thiago Almada from Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield in 2022 for roughly $16 million. The midfielder won the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar at the end of the same year.

In 81 appearances for the Five Stripes, Almada has 24 goals, including four in the 2024 season so far.

5 most expensive outgoing MLS transfers of all time

Check out the five most expensive outgoing MLS transfers of all time.



Transfer fee

Miguel Almirón

Atlanta United to Newcastle United

$27 million

Ricardo Pepi

FC Dallas to FC Augsburg

$20 million

Jhon Duran

Chicago Fire to Aston Villa

$18 million

Pity Martinez

Atlanta United to Al-Nassr

$18 million

Djordje Petrovic

New England Revolution to Chelsea

$17.5 million