The most expensive English footballers of all time

Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire are two of England's most expensive ever
Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire are two of England's most expensive ever / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It's no secret that English players don't come cheap.

Some huge sums of money have been forked out on English players down the years, a trend that was started by Rio Ferdinand way back at the start of the 21st century. Manchester United were the side who decided to pay big bucks, bringing the confident ball-playing defender to Old Trafford for a fee approaching £30m.

Prices have rocketed since then and 90min thought it would be a good idea to get every move nailed down in one place. So we've done just that, bringing you the 15 most expensive Englishmen of all time...

20. Michael Keane (£30m to Everton)

Michael Keane cost Everton £30m
Michael Keane cost Everton £30m / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Everton have been no strangers to splashing the cash in recent years and their £30m signing of Michael Keane is one of their most expensive.

Honestly, it does feel rather odd that the former Burnley man is one of the 11most expensive English footballers of all time... but Keane has been a relatively solid presence at Goodison since his 2017 transfer and has even won 12 England caps.

19. Rio Ferdinand (£30m to Manchester United)

Rio Ferdinand moved to Manchester United in 2002
Rio Ferdinand moved to Manchester United in 2002 / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The fact Rio Ferdinand is on this list despite his move to United taking place 19 years ago tells you everything you need to know about what a superstar he was.

Leeds' purchase of the defender two years prior to him leaving for the Red Devils hardly came cheap - with the Whites paying £18m for his services - but they sold him just two seasons later for a whopping £12m profit.

White suit on his unveiling aside, he did not disappoint at United.

18. Luke Shaw (£31m to Man Utd)

Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw's Manchester United career has been pockmarked by injury / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Luke Shaw was poached from Southampton by Manchester United in the summer of 2014, just four days after becoming the youngest England player to appear at a World Cup since Michael Owen.

The boyhood Chelsea fan's first four years at United were plagued by injury but once fit and healthy, Shaw has proven himself to be one of the club's most reliable players - though that isn't the compliment it once was.

17. Ollie Watkins (£33m to Aston Villa)

Ollie Watkins moved to Aston Villa from Brentford
Ollie Watkins moved to Aston Villa from Brentford / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Ollie Watkins is already well on his way to repaying Aston Villa after they took a huge gamble in paying Brentford £33m to land the striker.

Watkins bagged 14 goals in his maiden Premier League season and was handed his England debut after spearheading Villa's impressive start to the 2020/21 season.

16. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (£35m to Liverpool)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool for roughly £35m
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool for roughly £35m / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's move to Liverpool hasn't fully gone to plan, with injuries hampering his bid to cement a place in the starting XI.

Nevertheless, the England international has shown glimpses of his quality throughout his career and is now a Champions League and Premier League medal winner.

15. Andy Carroll (£35m to Liverpool)

Andy Carroll is unveiled alongside Luis Suarez
Andy Carroll is unveiled alongside Luis Suarez / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Andy Carroll's move to Liverpool is one of the older transfers in this list and it's fair to say it really didn't go to plan.

Following the departure of Fernando Torres, Kenny Dalglish looked to revamp his strike force with the arrivals of Carroll and Luis Suarez.

One of them only scored six league goals for Liverpool and left after 18 months, while the other nearly single-handedly dragged them to Premier League glory. You don't need reminding which is which.

14. Danny Drinkwater (£35m to Chelsea)

Danny Drinkwater's Chelsea career hasn't taken off
Danny Drinkwater's Chelsea career hasn't taken off / Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Sorry what?

Yep, that's right, long lost Chelsea midfielder Danny Drinkwater is the seventh most expensive English player of all time.

Having starred alongside N'Golo Kante in Leicester's Premier League winning season, Drinkwater earned a move to Chelsea after the Foxes' abject title defence the following year.

Since then he's, erm, struggled.

Drinkwater has made a total of 23 appearances (all comps) for Chelsea, been loaned out three times and has generally only made the headlines for off-the-field incidents.

13. Kalvin Phillips (£42m to Man City)

Kalvin Phillips
Kalvin Phillips won the Champions League in his first season at Manchester City / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

During his first season at Manchester City, Kalvin Phillips won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. Three trophies but from only four starts across all competitions.

As with the vast majority of Manchester City signings under Pep Guardiola, Phillips struggled to adapt to the complex demands of the Catalan coach - injury didn't help either.

12. Anthony Gordon (£45m to Newcastle)

Anthony Gordon became the second-most expensive player in Newcastle history when he signed in January 2023 / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

It's always tricky joining a new club - especially with a hefty price tag weighing you down. As vice-captain, Kieran Trippier tried to smooth Anthony Gordon's transition after he made the big-money move from Everton to Newcastle during the 2023 January transfer window.

Naturally, Trippier attempted this by posting a video of the pair scrapping during an earlier Newcastle-Everton fixture. It was received in good humour but didn't help Gordon pierce Newcastle's settled starting XI during his debut campaign.

11. Ben Chilwell (£45m to Chelsea)

Ben Chilwell joined Chelsea from Leicester in 2020
Ben Chilwell joined Chelsea from Leicester in 2020 / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Frank Lampard's transfer splurge prior to the 2020/21 season saw him splash roughly £220m, £45m of which was paid to Leicester for Ben Chilwell.

The left-back did alright in his first season with the Blues without really justifying his price tag. Nonetheless, he's a Champions League winner now.

10. Kyle Walker (£45m to Manchester City)

Kyle Walker cost Man City £47.5m
Kyle Walker cost Man City £47.5m / MB Media/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola absolutely loves spending loads of money on full-backs.

Kyle Walker arrived at the Etihad Stadium in 2017 for £45m and immediately got his hands on the Premier League trophy in his first season at the club.

Since then he's added another two league titles to his name along with countless other pieces of silverware, but the Champions League crown continues to evade both him and City.

9. John Stones (£47.5m to Manchester City)

John Stones cost City £47.5m
John Stones cost City £47.5m / Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Another of Guardiola's eye-watering purchases.

After Everton signed John Stones for £3m from Barnsley in 2013 they sold him on to City little more than three years later for £47.5m.

Stones has endured a turbulent time since moving to the Etihad and has struggled to eradicate the mistakes in his game, though his partnership with Ruben Dias last season saw him play the best football of his career.

8. Raheem Sterling (£47.5m to Chelsea)

Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling returned to London after making his professional debut with Liverpool and winning the Premier League at Manchester City / Richard Callis/MB Media/GettyImages

Raheem Sterling's first taste of hard work came when he and his sister would wake up at 5am to go with their mother to the hotels she worked at as a cleaner to put herself through university. Sterling remembered arguing: "No! No! You got the toilets this time. I got the bed sheets."

Fast forward two decades and Sterling's next job in the capital was a little more glamorous. The London-born winger returned to his home city in the summer of 2022, joining Chelsea after winning four Premier League titles in five years with Manchester City and making his breakthrough at Liverpool.

7. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£49m to Manchester United)

Aaron Wan-Bissaka secured a big-money move to Manchester United from Crystal Palace
Aaron Wan-Bissaka secured a big-money move to Manchester United from Crystal Palace / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United have been desperately trying to shore up their defence for a number of years and the signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka was one of the first real signs they might be getting somewhere.

The former Crystal Palace man definitely needs to offer more going forward but in a one-on-one situation there aren't many better tacklers in the Premier League.

6. Raheem Sterling (£49m to Manchester City)

Raheem Sterling used to be the most expensive ever Englishman
Raheem Sterling used to be the most expensive ever Englishman / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Whatever you think of Raheem Sterling, his tally of 114 goals in 292 games since joining City for £49m in 2015 can't be knocked.

Sterling fell out of favour with Guardiola towards the end of last season and was rumoured to be available for sale, but following his brilliant Euro 2020 campaign with England he might just fancy his chances of working his way back into the City boss' plans.

5. Ben White (£50m to Arsenal)

Ben White sealed a £50m move to Arsenal
Ben White sealed a £50m move to Arsenal / Pool/Getty Images

Few people had heard the name 'Ben White' until he played a starring role in Leeds' promotion back to the Premier League in 2019/20, and he looks to have all the tools to become a top centre-back.

At the moment his £50m price tag looks a bit steep, but at just 23 he's got plenty of time to develop and mature, and this could end up being one of those transfers we look back on and think 'as if we thought they'd paid over the odds for him'.

4. Jadon Sancho (£72.9m to Manchester United)

Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho becomes the second-most expensive English player of all time with his move to Man Utd / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

After what seemed like the longest transfer saga of all time, Manchester United finally got their man with the £72.9m capture of Jadon Sancho from Dortmund in July 2021.

The exciting winger started out his career at rivals City, before swapping England for Germany where he made his name with an impressive 38 goals and 45 assists in the Bundesliga since 2017/18.

3. Harry Maguire (£78m to Manchester United)

Harry Maguire is the most expensive Englishman ever
Harry Maguire is the most expensive Englishman ever / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

£78m for Harry Maguire may be a little steep but there's no doubting that he's a quality defender.

The 28-year-old has added leadership to United's backline and if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can bring in a top-class defender to partner him next season then United's defensive woes could be a thing of the past.

2. Jude Bellingham (£88m to Real Madrid)

While still a teenager, Jude Bellingham became the second most expensive English player in the history of the sport.

The sixth outfield English player to join Real Madrid didn't take up his much-loved number 22 shirt - which Birmingham City felt inclined to retire when Bellingham was sold to Borussia Dortmund - instead inheriting the famous number five which Zinedine Zidane wore upon his arrival in the Spanish capital two decades earlier.

1. Jack Grealish (£100m to Manchester City)

Last but not least, it's the most recent entry on our list.

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow confessed he did everything he could to retain the services of Jack Grealish, but the lure of Champions League football ultimately proved too strong and the boyhood Villa fan completed his £100m move to the Premier League champions.

Again the fee does look to be pretty extortionate, but there's no doubting what a brilliant player Grealish is and City have got themselves an absolute gem.