La Liga

The most expensive signings in La Liga history

Mitchell Wilks
Mar 22, 2021, 8:15 PM GMT
Joao Felix cost a pretty penny...
Joao Felix cost a pretty penny... | GABRIEL BOUYS/Getty Images
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Marquee signings would be better if in their presentations, they were made to come jumping out onto the pitch of their new side doing Shane McMahon's little shuffle while his theme song plays.

Unfortunately, that's not how football works. Still, there's something rather pleasurable about watching the trademark kick ups and skills presentation on the pitch, which inevitably ends up in the new signing looking a fool at some point.

La Liga has long been home to plenty of the beautiful game's biggest stars. Lovely weather, good football and wads of cash, it makes sense, doesn't it? Thus, it only makes sense to look back at the league's top 30 most expensive signings.

Here comes the money...

30. Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann reached superstar levels after moving to Atletico Madrid | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £24m
Year: 2014


Griezmann had to earn his stripes in La Liga and first earned a big move off the back of some impressive form with Real Sociedad.

Atleti were reigning champions at the time, which made the Frenchman's signing an even bigger deal.

29. David Villa

David Villa
Peak David Villa was a goal machine | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Valencia to Barcelona
Fee: £36m
Year: 2010


The man who epitomised having ice running through his veins, El Guaje remains Spain's all-time top scorer and one of the most underrated strikers to play the game.

28. Radamel Falcao

Clubs involved: Porto to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £36m
Year: 2011


His knees might be made of glass, but it didn't stop Radamel Falcao from becoming one of the most deadly finishers of the world in the early 2010s.

Great chant, too.

27. Paulinho

Jose Paulo Bezerra Maciel Junior, Paulinho
We live in a simulation | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Guangzhou Evergrande to Barcelona
Fee: £36m
Year: 2017


Contender for one of the weirdest transfers in football history, Paulinho - you know, one of the famous Tottenham 'Bale money' signings - left China for Barcelona in 2017, and returned to China two years later at a slight profit.

This actually happened.

26. Goncalo Guedes

Gonçalo Guedes
Guedes is held in high regard | David Ramos/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Paris Saint-Germain to Valencia
Fee: £36m
Year: 2018


Goncalo Guedes only made 13 appearances for PSG and had barely completed the tour of the Eiffel Tower before he was shipped off on loan to Valencia.

Luckily for Guedes, Los Che took a bit of a shining to him and they made the deal permanent after a season. Still, he was never going to get into PSG's front three, was he?

25. Malcom

Malcom
Malcom's time at Barcelona was short | Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Bordeaux to Barcelona
Fee: £36.9m
Year: 2018


Is he any good? Really?

FIFA Ultimate Team has you thinking so, but the fact Malcom trotted off to Zenit after just one season in Spain is rather telling.

Barcelona love bonkers transfer business.

24. Luis Figo

Luis Figo of Real Madrid leaves the pitch
Barcelona fans resented Figo | Getty Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Barcelona to Real Madrid
Fee: £37.2m
Year: 2000


When we said Ronaldo was arguably the Galactico signing of all Galacticos, it was because of Luis Figo, who was the first one ever.

His release clause was controversially activated by new Real president Florentino Perez in 2000, inciting fury among Barcelona fans, who threw a pig's head at him during a game in 2002.

23. Ronaldo

Clubs involved: Inter to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2002


Words cannot do this man any justice. Ronaldo is arguably the Galactico signing. Mr Money in the Bank.

104 goals from 177 appearances, alongside the 2002 Ballon d'Or.

22. Vinicius Junior

Ruslan Malinovskyi, Vinicius Junior
Don't write off Vinicius yet | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Flamengo to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2018


Back in 2017, Real Madrid agreed to pay Flamengo a fee in the region of €46m (£40.5m) for a then 16-year-old Vinicius Junior - two years before he could actually join the club.

The thing is, Real, throwing a load of money at young Brazilian footballers doesn't automatically turn them into a star - though fortunately time is definitely on Vinicius' side.

21. Rodrygo

Rodrygo Goes
Rodrygo has been highly rated by his employers | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Santos to Real Madrid
Fee: £40.5m
Year: 2019


Did Real Madrid learn from perhaps getting a little too keen with Vinicius? Of course not, because they did the same thing a year later.

The pair are destined to become MLS journeymen, aren't they?

20. Ferland Mendy

Clubs involved: Lyon to Real Madrid
Fee: £43.2m
Year: 2019


From being told he might never play football again to signing for Real Madrid. Ferland Mendy's story is incredible.

The long-term successor to Marcelo, who is arguably more rounded as a footballer...

19. Eder Militao

Eder Militao
Militao struggles for regular games at Real | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Porto to Real Madrid
Fee: £45m
Year: 2018


You kind of get the idea by now, don't you?

Real Madrid love spending money and they love spending big money on unproven talent. Eder Militao was exactly that when he signed from Porto, and to this day, does anyone know if he's up to it?

18. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane
Zizou was incredible in his playing career | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Juventus to Real Madrid
Fee: £46.2m
Year: 2001


At the time, Zinedine Zidane's £46.2m transfer to Real Madrid was a world-record deal.

Equate that to modern day money and the Frenchman was probably worth around £200m at his peak - that's how good he was.

17. Luka Jovic

Luka Jovic
Jovic was barely given a chance in Madrid | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid
Fee: £52.4m
Year: 2019


Oh look, here come Real Madrid again with further proof that they have more money than sense.

16. Diego Costa

Clubs involved: Chelsea to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £54m
Year: 2018


Football's greatest villain Diego Costa returned to Atleti from Chelsea for a club-record fee in 2018, but sadly his Madrid reunion didn't quite go as planned.

Still, there's plenty of positive memories Costa can call upon, and plenty of fun flashpoints.

15. Miralem Pjanic

Miralem Pjanic
Perhaps the weirdest bit of business ever | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Juventus to Barcelona
Fee: £54m (and Arthur Melo heading to Juventus for £64.8m)
Year: 2020


Now, we're not saying that this swap deal between Barcelona and Juventus was wrong, but it was definitely strange. Properly strange.

The pair have since tried to outdo each other in the 'who will flop worse?' contest, too.

14. Kaka

Kaka
Kaka never found the same levels in Spain | Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Milan to Real Madrid
Fee: £56m
Year: 2009


After lighting it up in Italy and ripping Europe to shreds on the road to Champions League and Ballon d'Or glory, Los Blancos made Kaka the second-most expensive player in the world in 2009.

Needless to say, he didn't live up to the star billing.

13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrah
Life with La Blaugrana isn't Zlatan's fondest memory | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Inter to Barcelona
Fee: £59m (plus Samuel Eto'o heading to Inter)
Year: 2009


Barcelona, Ibrahimovic and success seemed like a marriage made in heaven.

That was until the fiery Swede got on the wrong side of Pep Guardiola, ensuring his £59m transfer was pretty much a disaster.

12. Thomas Lemar

Thomas Lemar
Yes, he still exists | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Monaco to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £64.8m
Year: 2018


Having thoroughly impressed at Monaco and, for all intents and purposes, outrgrown Ligue 1, Thomas Lemar moved to Madrid for a step up in class.

Sadly, that step involved going two years and 45 appearances without a goal. Yikes.

11. James Rodriguez

James Rodriguez
Rodriguez was a forgotten man at the Santiago Bernabeu | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Monaco to Real Madrid
Fee: £63m
Year: 2014

Considering Real Madrid's previous dealings, you wouldn't be surprised if the only bit of James Rodriguez scouting that took place was watching his 2014 World Cup highlight reel.

Still, he was bloody sensational in that tournament.

10. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez
Excellent player, even better kit | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Liverpool to Barcelona
Fee: £64.98m
Year: 2014


Fresh off receiving a four-month ban for biting, Luis Suarez was public enemy number one as he rocked up at Barcelona for just shy of £65m.

Once that controversy died down, he became one of the Catalan giants' best ever signings - scoring goal after goal after goal after goal in a sensational six-year stay at Camp Nou.

9. Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie De Jong
The future | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Ajax to Barcelona
Fee: £65m
Year: 2019


One of the few bits of intelligent business Barcelona have conducted was signing Frenkie de Jong from Ajax.

Granted, he set the club back £65m, but he can do literally anything in midfield - and is destined to flourish at the top for many years to come.

8. Neymar

Neymar
The most expensive player in the world | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Santos to Barcelona
Fee: £71.5m
Year: 2013


An investigation into Neymar's transfer to Europe revealed that his parents pocketed a cushy €40m from the move, and that Barcelona paid way more than what was initially made out.

Worth every penny though, right?

7. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo did alright at Madrid, didn't he? | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Manchester United to Real Madrid
Fee: £80m
Year: 2009


Real Madrid had to bide their time, but stealing Cristiano Ronaldo away from Manchester United for £80m was one of the greatest things they've ever done.

United, meanwhile, responded by signing Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen. Mother of god.

6. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale
Bale spent his final days in Madrid on the bench | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Tottenham to Real Madrid
Fee: £85.1m
Year: 2013


After electrifying the Premier League for a couple of years, Gareth Bale's reward was an £85.1m move from Tottenham to Real Madrid.

Multiple Champions League successes followed, as did some huge goals in big finals. But the best bit was probably watching Bale take a nap on the bench, as well as pretending to use a telescope.

5. Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard
Hazard is plagued by injuries | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Chelsea to Real Madrid
Fee: £89m
Year: 2019


We're not ones for hyperbole here at 90min, but there's a fair chance that Eden Hazard has had more injuries at Real Madrid than we've had hot dinners.

The poor Belgian hasn't been given a break, apart from in his bones.

4. Antoine Griezmann

Clubs involved: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona
Fee: £107m
Year: 2019


The only man to make it into the list twice, Barcelona activated Antoine Griezmann's somewhat ridiculous release clause in 2019 - a good 12 months after that hilarious decision video.

Was it money well spent? We think you know the answer to that...

3. Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele
Injuries have been cruel to Dembele | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona
Fee: £96.8m
Year: 2017


Like Eden Hazard, injuries have unfortunately plagued the Spanish section of Ousmane Dembele's career - though time is very much on the Frenchman's side.

For his sake, and Barcelona's, let's hope he has a good 500 goals in him to justify a price tag that could tot up to over £135m once it's all said and done.

2. Joao Felix

Joao Felix
Joao Felix is quietly kicking on at Atleti | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Benfica to Atletico Madrid
Fee: £113m
Year: 2019


For all the money spent by Spain's biggest clubs in 2019, there hasn't really been a great deal of reward.

In Atletico's case, they shocked the world when they forked out £113m to hoist Joao Felix over to the Spanish capital, only for Diego Simeone to go uber negative in his tactics and effectively turn the Portuguese into a defender.

1. Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho
Injuries and contract clauses have resigned Coutinho to rotting in the background at Barcelona | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Clubs involved: Liverpool to Barcelona
Fee: £142m
Year: 2018


Barcelona's financial ruin can be traced back to many silly, silly deals, but few are sillier than the money involved in signing Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.

There's every chance that Barça will still be paying off the move in the 22nd century, such is the amount of unknown clauses and add-on payments that seem to appear from nowhere.

But like a devastating RKO, that's where Coutinho has been for most of his Camp Nou career - nowhere.

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