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Tabloids around Europe have been reeling ever since Manchester City announced the capture of winger Raheem Sterling from Liverpool for an estimated £49 million. This sum of money for Sterling, who does possess the potential to become great, seems to be more than what is reasonable.

The transfer highlights a growing trend for the inflation of player prices. A quality player that would have been worth around £15M in 2005, would now likely be sold for around £30-40M. In that spirit, we decided to create a list of the top 15 most expensive transfers in history.

15) Sergio Aguero
Transfer: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City
Price: £38 million ($59,103,300)

sergio aguero is awarded the 2014/15 barclays premier league golden boot

Aguero has been a revelation for Manchester City since his arrival from Atletico Madrid back in 2011. From scoring the goal that won City their first title in decades to constantly performing when his team needed him, Aguero has more than proved he was worth the price Manchester City paid for him.

14) James Rodriguez
Transfer: Porto to Monaco
Price: £38.5 million ($59,880,975)

James

Rodriguez is the most popular player on our list (watch for him later on the list). Before his rise to international fame in France, Rodriguez made his name at Porto, scoring 25 goals in 63 games. While his goal tally dropped at Monaco, James still owes his big money move and international fame to his time in France.

Hulk
Transfer: Porto to Zenit St Petersburg
Price: £38.5 million ($59,880,975)

Hulk

Hulk was seen as a great purchase by fans of Zenit when he made his big money move from Porto in 2012. The Brazilian brought fans, money, and most importantly goals to the Russian club. Hulk has since scored 40 goals in 71 appearances for the club.

Hernan Crespo
Transfer: Parma to Lazio
Price: £38.5 million ($59,880,975)

Crespo

The last of 3 players who were sold for £38.5M, Crespo was a scoring machine when he transferred from Parma to Lazio in 2000. In his 2 years at Lazio, the Argentinian scored 39 goals in 50 games. Crespo went on to score over 300 goals during his 19 year career and Brazilian legend Pele voted him onto the FIFA top 100 living players list at the finale of his professional career.

13) Zinedine Zidane
Transfer: Juventus to Real Madrid
Price: £46 million ($71,546,100)

Zidane

In 2001, Zidane was the undisputed best in the world. His control, vision, and leadership for club and country were invaluable and Real Madrid decided to break the world record transfer fee to sign the Frenchman. Zidane went on to score 37 goals in 155 appearances for Los Blancos.

12) Raheem Sterling
Transfer: Liverpool to Manchester City
Price: £49 million ($76,222,930)

Sterling

Coming in at #12 on our list, Sterling’s transfer still commands the second highest domestic British transfer fee in history. The upcoming 2015/2016 season will be a test to see if the winger can prove his £49M worth or not.

11) Fernando Torres
Transfer: Liverpool to Chelsea
Price: £50 million ($77,797,500)

Torres

Many thought Chelsea’s British domestic transfer record fee for Torres was misplaced as the once great Spanish striker had begun to decline in goals scored. Nevertheless, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich financed the 2011 deal and was sorely disappointed as Torres went on to score a paltry 20 goals in 110 appearances for the club.

David Luiz
Transfer: Chelsea to PSG
Price: £50 million ($77,797,500)

David Luiz

Defender David Luiz and Torres share the number 11 spot, although Luiz’s 2014 move to PSG was even more controversial. Many thought that the defender, who is the only in his position on our list, was not worth the amount that PSG were paying for him. While performances at the 2014 World Cup might have worsened those calls, Luiz has grown as a defender and player to prove his worth in the French capital.

10) Radamel Falcao
Transfer: Atletico Madrid to Monaco
Price: £51 million ($79,334,070)

Radamel-Falcao

Falcao is a natural born striker as Monaco decided to purchase the Colombian in 2013 for a club record fee. At his previous two clubs, Falcao averaged nearly a goal a game, and the French side thought that was more than enough reason to put so much money into one player. Injuries have since hampered his effectiveness, but Falcao still has a lot to offer.

9) Edinson Cavani
Transfer: Napoli to PSG
Price: £55 million ($85,555,800)

Cavani

Cavani was yet another Uruguayan that received praise for his domestic and international play. After tearing up the Serie A, PSG decided to swoop in and bring the striker to Paris. Cavani looks to be moving on soon as he has not found his best form since his big money move in 2013.

8) Kaka
Transfer: AC Milan to Real Madrid
Price: £56 million ($87,111,920)

Kaka

Kaka was the face of AC Milan for many years, until finally other clubs began to take interest. In 2009, Real Madrid shelled out over £50M to sign the Brazilian. While his impact wasn’t what it was in Italy, the star still contributed to the team as best he could.

7) Zlatan Ibrahimović
Transfer: Inter Milan to Barcelona
Price: £59 million ($91,778,630)

Zlatan

Barcelona dared to Zlatan as they bought the veteran striker from Inter for a cool £59M in 2009. Although the Swede never could develop a good partnership with fellow striker Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry, he has since proved more than his worth at PSG and at the international level.

6) Angel di Maria
Transfer: Real Madrid to Manchester United
Price: £59.7 million ($92,890,215)

Angel di Maria

After a man of the match performance to win his team the 2014 Champions League Final, di Maria was surprisingly told he would be allowed to leave for the right price. Manchester United, in need of a strong attacking midfielder, paid the fee to bring the Argentinian to England. It is still unknown whether di Maria will be at Old Trafford next season, but his quality has never been in doubt.

5) James Rodriguez
Transfer: Monaco to Real Madrid
Price: £63 million ($97,994,295)

James-r-real-mardrid

James was a revelation for Columbia in the 2014 World Cup, almost single-handedly dragging his team into the quarter finals. Real Madrid were the first to pounce as they signed the winger shortly after the World Cup ended.

4) Neymar
Transfer: Santos to Barcelona
Price: £71.5 million ($111,250,425)

Neymar

The Brazilian was one of the most sought out talents in 2013 and the popularity finally culminated into a big money move to Barcelona. Today, he is part of the trident attack, consisting of himself, Messi, and Suarez, that have combined for over 100 goals in the past season.

3) Luis Suarez
Transfer: Liverpool to Barcelona
Price: £75 million ($116,682,000)

Suarez

While Suarez’s time in the Premier League was eventful, he was still one of the top strikers in the league. After a successful World Cup, Barcelona finally came up with the cash and signed the Uruguayan back in 2014.

2) Cristiano Ronaldo
Transfer: Manchester United to Real Madrid
Price: £80 million ($124,437,200)

Real Madrid CF v Granada CF - La Liga

CR7 made his name at Manchester United and now is a world renowned talent. United got 2 amazing seasons out of him before granting the forward’s wish to move to the Spanish capital in 2009.

1) Gareth Bale
Transfer: Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid
Price: £86 million ($133,769,990)*

Bale

In 2013, after tearing up the Premier League with vastly superior speed and technique, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy finally gave in and allowed their talisman to leave for a world record fee. Since the transfer, Bale has been tearing up the league including an unbelievable goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Ray Final.

*All prices transferred into U.S. dollars are using the current exchange rate, not what it would have been at the time

Liverpool has the most players leaving the club with 3, while Real Madrid are the club that spends the most with £331M on the list; their closest competitor is Barcelona at £205.5M. Out of the 17 players on the list, 12 are still are their clubs, but that number looks like it might be changing the deeper into the transfer season we go. The list also shows that strikers still command the most money as 10 players are strikers, followed by 6 midfielders, 1 defender, and no goalkeepers.

Transfer fee inflation is looking like it will continue to rise over the next few years. UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are ways to combat the problem, but as long as rich and powerful owners have the money, prices will continue to soar.

What do you think of our list or the transfer fee inflation at large? Were these players worth the money spent on them at the time? Let us know in the comments.

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