Who Will Be The World’s First £100 Million Player?

January 15, 2009

by Jamie Ward

In the wake of Manchester City’s audacious £100 million bid for AC Milan’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka, it looks inevitable that in today’s multi-billion pound football club ownership sideshow that the world record transfer fee will eventually reach the nine figure sum. But who will be the first player?

The outrage that surrounds Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners and their world record transfer fee offer—and the rumour of the £500,000 a week wages offered to Kaka—is not a new occurrence in football.

The first recorded transfer fee was apparently £700 paid by Newcastle United to Sunderland for the services of Scottish right back Andrew McCombie in 1904.

With the transfer of Alf Common from Sunderland to Middlesbrough a year later, the record transfer fee reached £1000 and the large figure for the time caused uproar across the country and amongst football governing authorities.

Long before the creation of the professional football league in 1885, wages and payments to players have been a major talking point amongst supporters and lawmaking governing bodies. Before the league was created, it was commonplace to offer inflated and illegal payments to players in order to secure their services.

The world record transfer fee has seen a steady and natural increase over the last 100 years and reached its peak around 2001—where the proverbial bubble burst and transfer fees declined.

The record transfer fee has stood at a reported £47 million since 2001 and was paid by Real Madrid to Juventus for Zinedine Zidane. There have been several fees at around £30 million since that date, but none have come close to the record figure paid for the French player.

Since the 1982 transfer of Diego Maradona for £3 million from the South American club Boca Juniors to Spanish giants Barcelona, the figure has never gone more than four years without being broken and has normally changed, on average, every two years.

However, it has been eight years since the transfer of Zidane and with multi-billion pound investment in football coming from more than one club, it looks like it will not be long before someone smashes the £47 million pound figure paid at the start of the millennium.

Taking into account the natural increase and progression of the world transfer fee record—had it continued to be broken since 2001—and inflation of currency over the last eight years, the figure could be roughly somewhere around the £80 million mark.

The figure offered by the Manchester City owners may be a massive jump from the 2001 record, but it may just be that the future of football transfer fees has come earlier than predicted—especially when you take into consideration the reported £70-80 million offer for Cristiano Ronaldo by Real Madrid.

In 10 years from now, football supporters and governing bodies could be outraged by figures three times the £47 million pound record that is still held by Real Madrid.

But who will be the very first £100 million pound player and who will be the first to break the current world transfer fee record of £47 million?

  • Kaka: AC Milan—aged 26
  • Alexandre Pato: AC Milan—aged 19
  • Stevan Jovetic: Fiorentina—aged 19
  • Lionel Messi: Barcelona—aged 21
  • Bojan Krkic: Barcelona—aged 18
  • Sergio Aguero: Atletico Madrid—aged 20
  • Cristiano Ronaldo: Man United—aged 23
  • Wayne Rooney: Man United—aged 23
  • Carlos Tevez: Man United—aged 24
  • Fernando Torres: Liverpool—aged 24
  • Lucas Leiva: Liverpool—aged 20
  • Francesc Fabregas: Arsenal—aged 21
  • Carlos Vela: Arsenal—aged 19
  • Franco Di Santo: Chelsea—aged 19
  • Giovani Dos Santos: Tottenham—aged 19
  • Karim Benzema: Lyon—aged 21
  • Lulinha: Corinthians—aged 18

Do you believe that world football will witness a transfer fee of this size?