From Alan Shearer to Paul Pogba, 13 men have become the record Premier League signing – but how many of them actually lived up to the hype of their price tag?
Over the 28 seasons of the Premier League era, transfer spending has rocketed far above the rate of normal inflation.
The current transfer record is roughly 25 times more than it was back in 1992, with ever increasing television revenues as well as an influx of takeovers by billionaire businessmen and Gulf states the reasons why.
The English transfer record has been broken 15 times since the summer of 1992, but a huge price tag has proven to be no guarantee of success.
Two men, Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand, have twice being the subject of a record fee.
But who are all the names to have the title? And what happened to them next? Daily Star Sport takes a look…
Prior to 1992, the English transfer record was £2.9million, set when Liverpool signed Dean Saunders from Derby County.
Alan Shearer’s move from Southampton to Blackburn may have only increased the record by £700,000, but it was significantly more successful.
Shearer scored a total of 130 goals in 171 appearances for Rovers, breaking the 30 goal barrier in the league in each of his last three seasons with the club.
Most notably, he scored 34 goals as he appeared in all 42 matches of Blackburn’s triumphant 1994/95 league campaign, in which they won the title for the first time in 81 years.
Nottingham Forest were relegated from the Premier League in 1992/93, but Roy Keane had a superb season on an individual level.
Described as “the hottest prospect in football right now” by his manager Brian Clough, Keane became one of only five men who have won a place in the PFA Team in the year when their team has gone down.
He verbally agreed a transfer to Blackburn Rovers, but Alex Ferguson caught wind of the move and swooped, breaking the transfer record in the process.
It was certainly worth it, as Keane helped power the Red Devils to seven league titles and one Champions League. He finally moved on in 2005, joining Celtic and winning the Scottish Premier League before retiring in 2006.
For the first time in the Premier League era, the transfer record made a significant leap as it nearly doubled from its previous highpoint. This was also a notable move, as it saw Andy Cole move from one top club to another.
His 34 league goals in 1993/94 had helped fire Newcastle to third place in the league in their first season back in the top flight. Yet midway through the following season, he was allowed to move to Manchester United.
Cole scored five goals in a match against Ipswich shortly afterward and didn’t look back, picking up five Premier League winner medals and one from the Champions League while scoring 121 goals for the club.
He then played for eight more teams before retiring, most notably Blackburn where he spent three years and won the Worthington Cup.
Bruce Rioch’s one season in charge of Arsenal wasn’t hugely successful on the pitch, with the team finishing fifth and failing to win a trophy. However, by signing the non-flying Dutchman from Inter Milan, he ensured his legacy at the club would not be entirely forgotten.
Bergkamp’s high point in north London was 1997/98, as Arsenal won the double and he enjoyed a double of his own, picking up both the PFA and FWA footballer of the year awards. Another league and FA Cup double followed in 2002, and a third league title was bagged two years later.
The creative Dutchman assisted a total of 94 Premier League goals, a tally only four men have topped in the competition’s history. He retired in 2006, his place in Arsenal history assured.
The transfer record was broken for a third time in 1995 when Liverpool signed Stan Collymore.
He had just scored 22 Premier League goals and fired Nottingham Forest to third place in the season following their promotion from Division One.
This is the first transfer on our list which wasn’t a roaring success, but it wasn’t a disaster either. Collymore scored 35 goals in 81 appearances for the Reds, and assisted 11 league goals in his debut campaign, the second most in the top flight that season.
His move to boyhood club Aston Villa in 1997 recouped most of his transfer fee too, as it came in at £7million.
Collymore went on to represent Fulham, Bradford, Leicester and Real Oviedo, before retiring in 2001 at the age of just 30.
Four years after breaking the English transfer record, Shearer was at it again, except that he left Blackburn for more than four times what they had paid for him.
While the move was successful on a personal level – he scored 206 goals for the club in 405 appearances, becoming their all-time record scorer – the club were unable to end their trophy drought during his 10 seasons on Tyneside.
Two FA Cup final defeats were as close as Shearer got in terms of trophies with his beloved Magpies.
Alan Shearer isn’t the only man who appears twice on this list, and here’s the first of two entries for Rio Ferdinand.
The West Ham centre-back moved north to Leeds when Peter Ridsdale was enjoying spending money like water in pursuit of trophies.
They weren’t forthcoming, but it was quite the journey. Ferdinand scored in the Champions League quarter-final as Leeds reached the last four in 2000/01, then became the club’s captain the following season.
It turned out to be his last campaign in Yorkshire, as the club’s financial problems ensured he had to be sold. But more on that shortly.
Were it not for an anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in training, van Nistelrooy would’ve moved to Old Trafford 12 months earlier than he did.
The Dutchman certainly proved to be worth the wait though, as he went on to score 150 goals for United, the 11th most in club history.
Despite his hefty contribution it was a relatively barren period for Ferguson’s team, as they picked up just one league title in van Nistelrooy’s five seasons there.
Van Nistelrooy moved to Real Madrid in 2006, picking up two La Liga crowns, before ending his career with two seasons at Hamburg and one with Malaga.
The big money transfers continued to roll into Old Trafford, but ‘the little witch’ was not one of the more successful ones. Veron had helped Lazio win Serie A in 2000, and was very highly rated. His big money move to Manchester made him the first player from outside of Europe to break the English transfer record.
Veron struggled with the pace of the Premier League though, often performing better in the Champions League. Sir Alex Ferguson raged against his critics, ending a memorable press conference by saying “[Veron] is a ****** great player. And you’re all ******* idiots.”
Even so, he let him leave for Chelsea after two seasons and for roughly half what United had paid to secure his services. After flopping there, Veron moved to Italy where he won Serie A with Inter Milan, before moving home to Estudiantes where he finished his career.
Following a fine summer at the 2002 World Cup, and with Leeds struggling for money, Ferdinand moved to Old Trafford. He later admitted he sat in Peter Ridsdale’s office for six hours to force the transfer through.
He was glad he did. Ferdinand made over 450 appearances for Manchester United, picking up six league titles and a European crown along the way.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing – a missed drugs test deprived him of a place at Euro 2004 – but it was undoubtedly a successful move. Ferdinand ended his career in 2015, after one season with QPR.
To this point, our list has been comprised almost entirely of successful transfers. Yet from here on, none of the men lived up to their hefty transfer price tags, starting with Shevchenko.
The Ukranian had spent seven seasons with AC Milan, winning Serie A and the Champions League with the club, as well as the Ballon d’Or in 2004. But much like Veron before him, Shevchenko often looked a little lost when faced with the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. A tally of nine league goals from two seasons with the Blues was not a total befitting a striker of his status.
Following his time in west London he spent a year on loan back with Milan, before three seasons at Dynamo Kyiv rounded off his fine career.
When Sheikh Mansour took over Manchester City, he needed to make a statement of intent in the transfer market. The Brazilian forward Robinho was chosen to be that man, though he didn’t immediately endear himself to the club upon signing when he stated “On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted.”
Even so, his first season was reasonably successful. He scored 14 league goals, the fourth most in the Premier League in 2008/09, and captained the side in Richard Dunne’s absence too. But the following season his only goal came against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup and he left on loan in January.
Robinho’s nomadic career has since seen him play for Santos. Milan, Guangzhou Evergrande, Atletico Mineiro, Sivasspor, and he can still be found turning out for Istanbul Basaksehir at the age of 36. Manchester City have certainly gone on to bigger and better things since he left.
Fernando Torres was a hero at Liverpool. But as the Hicks and Gillett ownership era collapsed and Roy Hodgson steered the club toward the relegation zone, the Spaniard decided he had seen enough and handed in a transfer request.
Chelsea happily stumped up £50million to bring him in, while Liverpool immediately gave £35million of it to Newcastle for Andy Carroll. It’s safe to say neither move worked out well.
Sure, Torres did win a Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup with Chelsea, but his contribution was fairly minimal. He scored 45 goals in 172 appearances for the club, when he’d netted that many in his first 77 games for Liverpool.
Torres left Stamford Bridge in 2014, playing for AC Milan on loan before re-joining his first club, Atletico Madrid. Two seasons in Japan saw his career draw to a close in 2019.
Sir Alex Ferguson may have retired by 2014 but his former team were still able to splash the cash, as they demonstrated when signing Di Maria from Real Madrid. The Argentine arrived at Old Trafford having won the Champions League the previous season. Yet 12 months later, he had left the club.
An attempted burglary at his home was rumoured to be the chief reason as to why he struggled to settle in England. He was also sent off in an FA Cup tie against Arsenal, after diving and grabbing the shirt of the match referee, Michael Oliver.
Only two players recorded more Premier League assists than Di Maria in 2014/15, but it was best for all parties that he moved on. He has been with Paris Saint-Germain since, winning three Ligue 1 titles.
The final entry on our list is the seventh belonging to Manchester United. Having lost Pogba on a free transfer four years earlier, his former club had to spend big in order to get him back on board.
Has it been worth it? Rumour has it Graeme Souness is not a fan. Pogba has enjoyed some memorable games along the way, but a lack of consistency has certainly undermined his time at Old Trafford.
Since helping United secure the League Cup and Europa League in his debut campaign, the French World Cup winner has influenced big games all too rarely, and has long been rumoured to want to leave the club. It’s unlikely his time at Manchester United will be viewed as a success whenever he finally moves on.
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