La Liga has seen the player transfer record smashed numerous times over the years in a bid to capture the hearts and entice fans, as well as strengthen squads (whether needed or needless).
From Cristiano Ronaldo to Gareth Bale to Philippe Coutinho, marquee signing appear to be a good idea on paper but sometimes things aren’t always what they appear to be.
La Liga, home of the most expensive players
La Liga’s transfer record, for example, has been the home of many transfer record fees; some are undisputed success stories while the others (I’m looking at you Eden Hazard) have been a diabolical waste of money.
Here are the top 10 most expensive signings in La Liga history.
Luis Suarez – Liverpool to Barcelona (£64.98m)
Following his lengthy 4-month ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Luis Suarez was undisputedly the biggest villain in world football, becoming the public enemy number one all across Europe.
He was the main man at Liverpool, banging in the goals for the Merseysiders and almost carrying them to their first league title in more than 2 decades until Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip that resulted in Demba Ba’s goal and killing their title hopes and dreams.
Barcelona came knocking and Suarez answered, switching the red of Merseyside for the red and blue of Catalonia; where he banged in goal after goal and became their 3rd highest goalscoring player ever with 198 goals, behind Lionel Messi and Cesar Rodriguez.
He was then unceremoniously dumped by the Catalans and is now plying his trade for Atletico Madrid, leading them to the league title last season.
Frankie de Jong – Ajax to Barcelona (£65m)
The subject of a long and intense bidding war between the top European clubs, the Dutch wunderkind was part of the magical Ajax team that reached the Europa League final and the Champions League semi-final and captured the hearts of football purists across the world.
His performances have drawn comparisons to German great Franz Beckenbauer and Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta, for his innate ability to progress the ball into attack.
Widely considered as one of the top central midfielders today, Frankie de Jong is also one of the top earners in Europe, although he has done little to justify his price tag with a largely forgettable first season as he struggled to adjust to his new surroundings.
Neymar – Santos to Barcelona (£71.5m)
The heir-apparent of Brazilian great, Pele; Neymar’s transfer to Barcelona from Santos caused as many problems for the Catalans as they did benefit them, with the questionable methods Barcelona deployed to sign the then-teenager and make him the most expensive signing in Barcelona history at the time.
But it turned out just fine for Barcelona, who swept the footballing world with a front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, dominating football pitches across Europe and winning the club’s second-ever treble in 2014/2015.
Neymar helped Barcelona to 2 La Liga titles, 3 Copa del Rey titles, and a Champions League trophy.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Man United to Real Madrid (£80m)
Arguably one of the greatest footballers to ever walk the face of the earth, some have described Cristiano Ronaldo as the most potent goalscorer (alongside Lionel Messi) in the history of football.
Sir Alex Ferguson once famously said this about Real Madrid following reports about Real Madrid signing Cristiano: “Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.”
Joining the Galacticos at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season, Cristiano Ronaldo went on to become their all-time greatest goalscorer with 450 goals in 438 matches, a country mile ahead of Spanish legend Raul Gonzales who sits behind him with 323 goals.
Cristiano also won an unprecedented 3 Champions League trophies in a row, which has never happened before in the history of modern football.
He then left Madrid for Juventus, helping the Madridistas win 2 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Reys and 4 Champions League trophies during his time at the Bernabeu.
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently back home at Manchester United, where he has been singlehanded carrying the faltering team who have been subpar this season, with Tyson Fury even issuing a warning to the team to buck up on their performances.
Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (£85.1m)
Seeing Barcelona snap up Neymar in a record transfer, Real Madrid went one better and snapped up Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspurs, putting him up front to form a potent trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale.
The trio was responsible for helping Real Madrid to 4 Champions League titles, 3 of which were on the bounce; Bale scored 105 goals in 251 games, including a memorable goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final where he left Bartra on the ground with his pace.
He is still in Madrid but has since found playing time hard to come by.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid (£89m)
The Chelsea talisman was the star of the Chelsea side that captured the imagination of English football for years, and when Madrid came calling, the Belgian didn’t hesitate to answer.
However, injuries and poor form have plagued the former Chelsea superstar, who has been a pale shadow of his glorious former self; where he was supposed to be at the peak of his powers, he now looks undeserving of his price tag.
Ousmane Dembele – Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona (£96.8m)
The French wunderkind from Dortmund was signed during the reign of Barcelona’s chairman Bartomeu, he is one of the most talented youngsters in world football however he has yet to hit the heights of his Borussia Dortmund days.
Dembele has been plagued by injuries, putting a huge question mark on the transfer price tag that Barcelona paid for the youngster,
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (£107m)
Having been linked to Barcelona for years, the move finally came to fruition in the summer of 2019, with the former Atletico Madrid player signed to link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
However, the world cup winner hasn’t had a particularly good tenure at Camp Nou, failing to harmonize with the Argentinian and Uruguayan. He has since returned to Atletico Madrid and is slowly returning back to form.
Joao Felix – Benfica to Atletico Madrid (£113m)
The 2019 Golden Boy winner, the heir-apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portuguese national team, took La Liga by storm during the early days of his transfer to Atletico Madrid.
He scored 20 goals in 43 games for Benfica before earning his move to Atletico. However, his form has dramatically fallen and added to the fact that he is playing in an infamously defensive-minded team.
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (£142m)
And now we’ve finally come to the most expensive player in La Liga history, Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazilian attacking midfielder was the main cog of the Liverpool team for years before he forced a move to Barcelona, where he subsequently became the most expensive La Liga transfer of all time.
His time with the Catalans has been eventful, to say the least, with the Brazilian loaned to Bayern Munich where he then faced Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, scoring 2 goals and registering an assist in an 8-2 drubbing of the Spanish giants.
He then returned from loan to Barcelona but has been used sparingly by the club, with a move away from the Catalans becoming increasingly inevitable.