LaLiga’s most expensive transfers – All-time record signings

Joao Felix

Spanish clubs have been responsible for some of the biggest deals in football history. Among the list of LaLiga’s most expensive transfers, there are a number of modern day legends, but also plenty who spectacularly failed to live up to their hefty price tags.

One of the most exciting signings in LaLiga history has just been completed with Real Madrid announcing the arrival of Kylian Mbappe from PSG. Already the defending Spanish and European champions, the latest betting odds suggest Los Blancos are huge favourites to win LaLiga again next season with the Frenchman significantly bolstering their attacking options.

However, despite a signing on fee believed to be in excess of €100m, Mbappe’s move to the Spanish capital is technically a free transfer so doesn’t feature in the top 10 most expensive transfers in LaLiga history.

LaLiga’s most expensive transfers – Top 10 signings

10. Luis Suarez – Liverpool to Barcelona (2014/15) – €81.7m

la liga transfers - Suarez
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A sum of €81.7m according to transfermarkt, means that even a decade on, Luis Suarez’s 2014 transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona still ranks as one of LaLiga’s 10 most expensive.

He arrived amidst something of a storm following his infamous bite at that year’s World Cup which resulted in a lengthy ban that delayed his Barca debut until late October. Even when he started playing, there were initial doubts about whether Suarez, Leo Messi and Neymar could play together effectively but those were soon dispelled as the iconic “MSN” strike-force fired Barcelona to a treble winning 2014/15 campaign under Luis Enrique.

Suarez went on to score 198 goals for Barcelona across six seasons, including 40 in LaLiga 2015/16 which saw him pip Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to that year’s Pichichi Trophy.

9. Neymar – Santos to Barcelona (2013/14) – €88.2m

Neymar was not quite as prolific as Suarez but also enjoyed a very successful career at Barcelona following his €88.2m switch from Brazilian side Santos in 2013. He scored more than 100 times in four seasons at Camp Nou and was a constant threat with his dribbling and creative ability on the left flank.

His time in Catalunya would come to an abrupt and bitter end in 2017 though with PSG doing what was viewed as the unthinkable and paying his €222m release clause. Neymar was reportedly fed up with playing second fiddle to Messi in Barcelona and went on to spend six years in France, although injuries played a big part in ensuring his career in Europe petered out to some extent.

8. Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid (2009/10) – €94m

The transfer that took Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009 was a world record at the time with Los Blancos forking out €94m to bring the Portuguese star to the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Partly as a response to Barcelona’s treble winning campaign under Pep Guardiola, Madrid also signed Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso in a wild summer as they sought to narrow the gap on their eternal rivals.

While that process would take some time, Ronaldo of course went on to be an all-time great in large part thanks to his exploits in Spain. He registered a ridiculous 311 goals in 292 games in LaLiga, leaving him second only to Messi on the all-time top scorer list in the Spanish top flight.

7. Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (2013/14) – €101m

la liga record fees - Gareth Bale
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Real Madrid broke the world transfer record again in 2013, paying the first fee in excess of €100m to bring Gareth Bale to the club from Tottenham.

The Welshman was seen as the final piece in the attacking jigsaw and his presence alongside Ronaldo and Benzema helped deliver the much sought after “decima” at the end of his first season as Real Madrid won the European Cup for the 10th time.

Bale would go on to win the competition five times for Los Blancos, yet he departed to little fanfare with a large chunk of the Madrid media and fanbase losing patience with the player whose latter years in Spain were defined by injuries, declining performance levels and the perception that he cared more about playing for his country than his club.

6. Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid (2023/24) – €103m

Just one season into Jude Bellingham’s Real Madrid career, it already feels like he has everything in his locker to go on to be one of the club’s all-time greats.

The 20 year old feels like a snip at €103m given some of the fees that have been spent around Europe and beyond over the past couple of years and Bellingham’s debut season in Spain could not have gone any better.

At home from day one, Bellingham has already established himself as one of the best players in the world with 23 goals in all competitions vital to Real Madrid’s ability to conquer Spain and Europe again.

5. Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid (2019/20) – €115m

As we head into the top five LaLiga transfers of all-time, we also head into what might be described as flop territory with the five most expensive players far less successful than those that rank sixth to 10th.

Eden Hazard arrived at Real Madrid as arguably the best player in the Premier League in 2019, but an injury-ravaged stint in Spain saw the Belgian score just four goals across four seasons in LaLiga.

Things got so bad that the two parties agreed to mutually terminate his contract in 2023 and Hazard retired from all football at the age of just 32 a few months later.

4. Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (2019/20) – €120m

The transfer of Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona was a saga that ran and ran with Griezmann initially announcing his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid in 2018 in an ill-advised documentary that was aptly called “The Decision”.

He revisited the matter a year later though and joined Barcelona for €120m in 2019, but Griezmann never felt like the ideal fit at Camp Nou, chiefly because the Catalan giants already had the best number 10 in world football in the shape of Leo Messi.

With Barca’s financial problems growing, Griezmann was loaned back to Atletico Madrid in 2021 and subsequently completed a permanent transfer to rejoin Los Rojiblancos, despite sections of the Atleti fanbase struggling to forgive their former idol for his initial departure.

3. Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid (2019/20) – €127.2m

Joao Felix
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Griezmann’s 2019 move to Barcelona, helped spark Atletico Madrid’s decision to pay a club record fee of around €127m to sign Joao Felix from Benfica that same summer.

Felix arrived as a precocious teenager and showed early flashes of his immense talent, but struggled to win the trust of boss Diego Simeone and failed to find any real consistency during an increasingly unhappy stint in the red and white half of Madrid.

Things came to a head last summer with Felix declaring his dream was to play for Barcelona. He’d get his wish with a loan move to the Catalan capital and would end up scoring in both league games against his parent club, despite a mixed stint at Barca overall which ended with him largely warming the bench as he’d done so often at the Estadio Metropolitano.

2. Ousmane Dembele – Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona (2017/18) – €130m

Barcelona’s response to losing Neymar to PSG for an astronomical fee in 2017 was to splash the cash on what remain the two most expensive signings in LaLiga history according to transfermarkt’s records.

Truth be told, neither transfer panned out anywhere near as well as they’d have hoped. Ousmane Dembele showcased his quality at various points during his six year stay at Barcelona but also frequently flattered to deceive and left on fairly poor terms to join PSG in 2013 for a fraction of the fee Barca had paid for him.

1. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (2017/18) – €145m

Despite a reasonably encouraging start, the January 2018 signing of Philippe Coutinho would prove to be an even bigger disaster for Barcelona, both from a financial perspective and on the pitch itself.

Coutinho arrived having excelled for Liverpool in the Premier League but never truly hit the heights in Spain with things tailing off spectacularly after his second season in LaLiga as his critics grew louder and his confidence began to visibly drain.

A loan move to Bayern Munich followed in the 2019/20 campaign with the Brazilian actually scoring twice against his parent club in the 8-2 drubbing of Quique Setien’s team in that season’s Champions League. 

Bayern didn’t take up the option to sign him permanently though and Coutinho would only finally leave Barca for good to join Aston Villa for around €20m in May 2022. His 2018 transfer remains the most expensive fee ever paid by a Spanish club.

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About Mark Sochon 2079 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has been writing about Spanish football since 2014 and regularly attends and covers matches across Spain. His work has also been published by various newspapers and websites including These Football Times, World Soccer and Guardian Sport. Freelance requests: marksochon (at) hotmail.co.uk