The 50 Most Expensive Football Transfers of All Time

A large transfer fee can be a blessing or a curse. 

It is a sign of great faith to spend such a huge amount of money on one player, but it carries with it the expectation that the player will reward that faith with performances – and if they do not, fans will not be forgiving. 

Many great players have risen to the pressure of their transfer fee, but others have been crushed under the burden of expectations placed upon them. 

Let’s take a look at the 50 most expensive transfers of all time.


50) Bernardo Silva – Monaco to Manchester City (€50m, 2017)

Bernardo Silva

After Bernardo Silva’s wonderful 2016/17 season at Monaco, in which he played a major part in the principality’s Ligue 1 triumph, Manchester City came a-knocking and brought the Portuguese international to the Etihad.

Silva has gone on to become a key member of Pep Guardiola’s squad, scoring 22 goals in 100 appearances over the course of two seasons, and winning back-to-back Premier League titles as well as the FA Cup, Community Shield and the Carabao Cup.


49) Eliaquim Mangala – Porto to Manchester City (€51.7m, 2014)

Eliaquim Mangala

After three successful years with Portuguese giants Porto, Eliaquim Mangala became Manchester City’s then-record signing, joining the club for a reported fee of €51.7m. 

The centre back had a difficult start to his Premier League career, with his transfer delayed and then arriving at the club injured. Despite an impressive debut against Chelsea, his next match against Hull City was one he would be happy to forget, heading in an own-goal and conceding a penalty.

Despite an upturn in form that earned him a spot in France’s Euro 2016 squad, Manuel Pellegrini decided to spend £32m on Nicolas Otamendi and Mangala was sent off on loan to Valencia and then Everton.


48) Gianluigi Buffon – Parma to Juventus (€52m, 2001)

Juventus v Inter Milan X

The legendary goalkeeper made history when he joined Juventus from Parma in what was then a world record fee for a keeper, a record that remained firmly in place for 17 years.

Gianluigi Buffon went on to achieve legendary status at Turin, making over 650 appearances for I Bianconeri over the course of 17 years, winning nine Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia’s, five Supercoppa Italiana’s, and one Serie B title.

Notoriously known for winning every possible title except the Champions League, Buffon decided to leave Juventus and move on to Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.


47) Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon to Arsenal (€53m + €7m in Add-Ons, 2017)

Alexandre Lacazette

After failing to secure a move to Atletico Madrid when their two-window transfer ban was upheld by CAS, Alexandre Lacazette left Lyon to join Arsenal, setting the record for the highest figure ever paid to the French club in a transfer and becoming the Gunners’ most expensive player.

Lacazette scored 17 goals in his debut season at the Emirates, and after the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, formed a deadly striking partnership with the Gabonese international. 

In the 2018/19 season he scored 19 goals as Arsenal reached the final of the Europa League, and was named the Gunners’ player of the season by the fans.


46) Hernan Crespo – Parma to Lazio (€55m, 2000)

Lazio v Leeds

After scoring 80 goals over the course of four seasons at Parma, Hernan Crespo became the most expensive player in the world when he was acquired by Serie A champions Lazio.

In his debut season, Crespo proved he was worth every penny by ending the campaign as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals, though Lazio failed to defend their title. Numerous injuries, as well as Lazio’s financial troubles, saw him suffer from a lack of support in attack and he was sold to Inter in 2002.


45) Kyle Walker – Tottenham to Manchester City (€56.7m, 2017)

Kyle Walker

After spending six years with Tottenham, Kyle Walker became the most expensive defender in the world when he was transferred to ​Manchester City, as Guardiola began a major defensive upheaval at the club.

Walker became a dominant figure in City’s defence, helping the club win the Premier League title in both seasons since joining.


44) John Stones – Everton to Manchester City (€58m, 2016)

John Stones

Beginning his career at Championship side Barnsley before moving on to a successful spell at Everton, John Stones became the second most-expensive defender in the world, at the time, when he was bought by Guardiola’s City.

His arrival at the Etihad was notorious for being accidentally leaked ahead of the official announcement, having been included in the Citizens’ Champions League Play-Offs squad list which was published on UEFA’s website.


43) Benjamin Mendy – Monaco to Manchester City (€58.2m, 2017)

Benjamin Mendy

Part of the historic Monaco side that beat out Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title in 2016/17, Monaco became the next member of Guardiola’s defensive revolution at City, joining the club in a five-year deal and eclipsing the world record for a defender, set only ten days earlier by Walker.

Mendy’s career at City has been injury-ravaged, missing out on most of both seasons since joining the club and undergoing two major surgeries. However, he has managed to become a one of the fans’ favourite players due to his social media presence and attitude.


42) Hulk – Zenit St Petersburg to Shanghai SIPG (€58.6m, 2016)

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The Brazilian behemoth set an Asian football record when he left Zenit St Petersburg to join Chinese side Shanghai SIPG in 2016.

However, he managed to make only seven appearances in his debut season due to injury, but went on to become one of the symbols of the Chinese league – winning the league title in 2018 and being named in the team of the season in 2017 and 2018.


41) Jorginho – Napoli to Chelsea (€58.9m, 2018)

Jorginho

Jorginho was the star of Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side, and when the manager joined Chelsea in 2018 he made the Italian midfielder his main transfer target. Despite interest from Manchester City, Jorginho joined his former manager at Stamford Bridge and made his debut in the Community Shield against City.

His season at Chelsea started well, in their third Premier League match of the campaign Jorginho completed 158 passes, setting a new record for the most passes completed by a Chelsea player in a single league match, and breaking the record for most attempted passes with 180 three games later.

With Sarri moving on to Juventus this summer, Jorginho just might complete another huge transfer in the near future.


40) Fred – Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester United (€58.9m, 2018)

Fred

After spending five years with Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, a club well-known for purchasing and developing young Brazilian stars, Fred completed a big money move to Manchester United in 2018.

Despite the monster fee, Fred failed to leave a lasting impression in his first season at Old Trafford, making just 17 appearances in all competitions as he couldn’t break his way into the starting XI under both Jose Mourinho and his successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


39) Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea (€59m, 2011)

Fernando Torres

El Nino’s exploits over the course of his four seasons at Liverpool were constantly accompanied by rumours of a big-money move to Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, and despite constant denials from both the club and the player, Fernando Torres completed his transfer to Stamford Bridge in January 2011.

However, he failed to live up to the enormously high expectations with the Blues, scoring just one goal in his debut campaign and failing to reach double figures in any of his three-and-a-half seasons at the club. He was eventually loaned to Milan, but only managed to find success again when he returned to former club Atletico Madrid.


38) Luis Figo – Barcelona to Real Madrid (€60m, 2000)

Luis Figo, Bulent Akin

In July 2000, Luis Figo made one of the most controversial moves in football history when he left Barcelona to join hated rivals Real Madrid, smashing the world record for the highest transfer fee.

In his first season with Real he won the Ballon d’Or award, largely for his time at Barcelona, and upon his return to the Camp Nou, for the first Clasico of the season, he was met by a deafening chorus of boos and banners hung around the stadium reading ‘traitor’, ‘scum’ and ‘Judas’.

Figo’s move marked the beginning of the Galacticos era at Los Blancos, and he was later joined by stars such as Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham. Over the course of his career at Real he won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Supercups, the Champions League, a UEFA Supercup and the Intercontinental Cup, finally moving to Inter in 2005.


37) Naby Keita – RB Leipzig to Liverpool (€60m, 2018)

Naby Keita

​Liverpool identified RB Leipzig’s tough-tackling, dynamic midfielder ​Naby Keita as the player who could transform them into title contenders, and were even prepared to wait a year for his arrival after reaching an agreement in 2017.

The Reds have indeed become title challengers since Keita’s arrival, and he’s really starting to find his feet now – flourishing in the final weeks of the 2018/19 season.


36) Oscar – Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG (€60.3m, 2017)

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Chinese transfer fees are notoriously difficult to pin down, with estimates for Carlos Tevez’s move to Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 ranging between £12m and £72m depending on who you believe and how you calculate it.

Only the second Chinese transfer we can confirm in the top 50 is Oscar’s move to Shanghai SIPG in 2017. The Brazilian had slipped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge and decided to take a big payday in the Far East, linking up with former Brazil teammate Hulk.

Unlike Tevez, Oscar didn’t let his standards drop and has taken advantage of the lower quality league to rack up some impressive statistics, with 25 goals and 41 assists in just two years.


35) Angel Di Maria – Manchester United to Paris Saint-Germain (€61.6m, 2015)

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After being deemed the worst signing of the season at Manchester United, Angel Di Maria completed a dramatic move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain in 2015.

He failed to board a flight to join the Red Devils in the United States, to which manager Louis van Gaal commented: “I have heard he is not on the plane. I cannot say anything. He was not on the plane.” One week later the transfer was officially announced, and Di Maria has been a PSG player ever since.


34) David Luiz – Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain (€62.5m, 2014)

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In the summer of 2014, David Luiz became the most expensive defender in history – leaving Chelsea to join Paris Saint-Germain on a five-year contract.

The Brazilian international became a stalwart figure at the Parc des Princes, helping PSG win the domestic treble in both of his seasons at the club, before returning to former club Chelsea in 2016.


33) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal (€63.75m, 2018)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Sven Mislintat had been ​Arsenal’s head of recruitment for just two months when he secured one of their best signings in recent years, raiding his former club ​Borussia Dortmund for ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January 2018.

The Gabonese international scored 10 goals in 13 league appearances up to the end of the season and has continued his prolific form into Unai Emery’s reign.

After years of treading water, this is the sort of signing Arsenal need to make more of if they want to become a force to be reckoned with again. Mislintat’s departure from the Emirates Stadium was a real blow in that regard.


32) Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea (€64m, 2019)

Christian Pulisic

The first 2019 transfer on this list saw ​Chelsea pay £58m to sign Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund, the highest transfer fee ever paid for a North American player by quite some distance.

At just 20 years of age, Pulisic is already vastly experienced with over 100 Dortmund appearances under his belt. However, he was allowed to leave the German side after slipping behind Jadon Sancho in the pecking order.

After Chelsea lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, they will hope that Pulisic can fill the void left behind. It will certainly be a lucrative transfer in a commercial sense, with Pulisic being the poster boy of football in the USA.


31) Edinson Cavani – Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain (€64.5m, 2013)

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Arriving at Paris Saint-Germain after they had just won their first league title in two decades, Edinson Cavani helped to establish Les Parisiens as the dominant force in French football. They have won 17 of the 20 domestic competitions they have entered in Cavani’s five years on board.

Throughout his PSG career, Cavani has never been the club’s poster boy, overshadowed first by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then by Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. However, his consistency has never been in doubt as he has always scored at least 20 goals each season. 

In recent years he has been particularly lethal, outscoring both Neymar and Mbappe in the 2017/18 season, and despite injuries and fewer appearances he still managed to net 23 times in 2018/19.


30) Aymeric Laporte – Athletic to Manchester City (€65m, 2018) 

Aymeric Laporte

Athletic’s unique transfer policy allows them to command much higher fees for players than other clubs would be able to, but Manchester City fans will agree that Laporte was worth every penny paid.

Laporte joined City in January 2018 when they were already 12 points clear of their nearest rivals and played on and off until the end of the season. In 2018/19, he became City’s main defender, and there’s no questioning his place in the team nowadays.

Arguably his most important City performance came against Liverpool, when he deputised superbly at left back in a crucial victory for Guardiola’s side.


29) Kaka – AC Milan to Real Madrid (€65m, 2009)

Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Kaka

One of the best midfielders of his generation and a Ballon d’Or winner in 2007, a world record move to Real Madrid seemed like the natural step for Kaka when AC Milan’s status in European football began to slip in the late 2000s.

But like the Rossoneri, Kaka’s best years were behind him. Injuries disrupted his first two seasons at the Bernabeu, with Mesut Ozil taking his place in the side, and he also had a troubled relationship with Jose Mourinho.

The huge loss Real Madrid made when they sold Kaka back to Milan in 2013 means that this is regarded as one of the worst transfers of all time.


28) Riyad Mahrez – Leicester City to Manchester City (€67.8m, 2018)

Riyad Mahrez

How do you improve a squad which has just scored a record number of goals, won a record number of games and become the first side to surpass 100 points in the Premier League? Guardiola’s answer was to buy ​Riyad Mahrez from ​Leicester in the summer of 2018.

City had been after Mahrez for at least a year, but their approach had been rebuffed the previous summer and Leicester held firm the following January, despite Mahrez temporarily going on strike. The champions eventually got their man for €67.8m.

Despite ending the season with 12 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, Mahrez is yet to hit the heights which saw him named PFA Player of the Year during Leicester’s unlikely title triumph of 2015/16, and his penalty miss at Anfield in October will remain his most memorable moment ot the season.


27) Raheem Sterling – Liverpool to Manchester City (€69.1m, 2015)

Raheem Sterling

The talented youngster’s transfer from Liverpool to Manchester City in 2015 was the end product of a highly publicised contract dispute between Raheem Sterling and the Reds.

After his breakthrough at Anfield, Sterling was offered a contract extension which he refused to sign, to which manager Brendan Rodgers said: “In terms of Raheem I’m just saying what I think the club are offering. It’s an incredible deal for a young player.

“But we’re certainly not a club that is going to give way, way above what a player is worth at a certain time in their career.”

The rift between Sterling and Liverpool grew towards the end of the season, with the player and his agent giving unsanctioned interviews and Sterling missing two days of training due to ‘illness’.

The saga finally drew to a close when Manchester City made Sterling the most expensive English player in history, also breaking the record for the highest fee paid for a teenager.


26) Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Inter to Barcelona (€69.5m, 2009)

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrah

A world class player, moving from Italy to Spain, for €69.5m, in 2009. Spanish football fans were having déjà vu when Barcelona signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic just three weeks after Real Madrid had bought Kaka, and the symmetry continued as this transfer was equally unsuccessful.

Ibrahimovic’s only season at the Camp Nou wasn’t that bad, as he scored 16 La Liga goals, but fans were scratching their heads as to why Samuel Eto’o – an equally brilliant striker – had been allowed to join Inter in part exchange.

Ibrahimovic resented having to share the limelight with Lionel Messi and accused Guardiola of being a coward after a Champions League defeat. “You bought a Ferrari, but you drive it like a Fiat,” Ibrahimovic said. He was written off at the end of the season, and sold to AC Milan.


25) Luka Jovic – Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid (€70m, 2019)

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-JOVIC

After a breakthrough season on loan at ​Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt, Luka Jovic completed a move to Real Madrid as part of Zinedine Zidane’s 2019 squad rejuvenation.

The Serbian striker will hope to replicate his form from the 2018/19 season which saw him score 27 goals from 48 appearances, helping Eintracht finish seventh in the Bundesliga and reach the semi-final of the Europa League.


24) Thomas Lemar – Monaco to Atletico Madrid (€70m, 2018)

Thomas Lemar

​It’s early days in the La Liga career of ​Thomas Lemar, but it’s already starting to look like ​Atletico Madrid may have paid well over the odds for the Frenchman when they signed him from Monaco last summer.

In 31 league appearances, Lemar has managed just two goals and three assists for Diego Simeone’s team, and Atletico fans are starting to fear that this might be Jackson Martinez all over again.

Simeone has pleaded patience, emphasising Lemar’s talent and insisting he will come good. He will need to do so quickly if Atletico are to stand any chance of competing with Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga.


23) Alisson Becker – Roma to Liverpool (€73m, 2018)

Alisson

Loris Karius’ disastrous performance in the 2018 Champions League final forced Jurgen Klopp to swallow his pride and dip into the transfer market for a world class goalkeeper. He put up the cash for Alisson Becker, Roma’s Brazilian shot-stopper, breaking Buffon’s long-standing record for the most expensive goalkeeper.

Alisson’s impact is reflected in Liverpool’s defensive record, which was the best in the Premier League in 2018/19. He has come to the fore with some memorable saves against Brighton, Chelsea, Burnley, and most notably Napoli, helping the Reds win the Champions League title.


22) Angel Di Maria – Real Madrid to Manchester United (€74.6m, 2014)

Angel Di Maria

Angel Di Maria had been named man of the match in the Champions League final as Real Madrid finally clinched La Decima in 2014, so it looked like a good piece of business when Manchester United broke their transfer record to sign the Argentine a few months later.

He made a promising start at Old Trafford, winning Manchester United’s player of the month award for September after two goals and two assists in four Premier League matches, including a sensational chipped finish against Leicester.

However, Di Maria’s form soon took a nose-dive and a costly red card against Arsenal in the FA Cup proved to be his final start for United as he was sold at the end of the season to Paris Saint-Germain for a loss of around £15m.


21) Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg to Manchester City (€75m, 2015)

Kevin De Bruyne

Two years after Jose Mourinho decided that Kevin De Bruyne wasn’t good enough for the Premier League, Manuel Pellegrini brought him back to England, paying a hefty sum to sign the Belgian from Wolfsburg.

De Bruyne has been worth every penny spent, with his performances in the 2017/18 season affirming his status as one of the best players in the ​Premier League. He won the inaugural Playmaker Award for most assists and narrowly missed out on the PFA Player of the Year award to Mohamed Salah.

Injuries have restricted De Bruyne more recently, but if he can maintain his fitness then City have a good chance of winning every trophy available to them…every year.


20) Frenkie de Jong – Ajax to Barcelona (€75, 2019)

Sean Klaiber,Frenkie de Jong

After months of speculation, the Frenkie de Jong transfer saga finally came to an end in January 2019 as the Dutch midfielder agreed to join Barcelona at the end of the season.

De Jong has been compared to both Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer, which is not as ridiculous as it seems, given that he possesses a Cruyff-like ability to float past players despite being closer to Beckenbauer in terms of his position and tactical flexibility.

Producing consistent performances in the Eredivisie is one thing; doing it in La Liga is quite another. If De Jong can learn from Sergio Busquets and become the Spaniard’s successor, Barcelona will have a world class talent on their hands.


19) Zinedine Zidane – Juventus to Real Madrid (€77.5m, 2001)

Real Madrid's French Zinedine Zidane (L)

 In 2001 Zidane joined the Galacticos project at Real Madrid, becoming the most expensive player in the world at the time, playing at the club until his retirement in 2006.

The Frenchman, widely considered to be one of the best players in football history, left his mark in just his first season at the club – scoring the match-winning goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final.

He went on to win the La Liga title with Los Blancos and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2003, as well as achieving international success with the French national team.

After retiring from active play, Zidane started his managerial career at Real, eventually replacing Rafa Benitez as the club’s manager in 2016. With Zidane at the helm, Los Blancos became the only team to win three consecutive ​Champions League titles.


18) Alvaro Morata – Real Madrid to Chelsea (€78.9m, 2017)

Alvaro Morata

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea downfall began when he decided to replace Diego Costa with Alvaro Morata in the summer of 2017. Costa had just scored 20 goals to help Chelsea win the Premier League title in 2016/17; Morata had never scored more than 15 in a league campaign.

Sure enough, Morata failed to have the expected impact. After a bright start, scoring six goals in his first six Premier League matches, he faded badly, hitting the target just five more times all season as Chelsea finished outside the top four and Conte was sacked.

Even the appointment of Maurizio Sarri couldn’t get the best out of Morata, who is now at Atletico Madrid on loan. If Los Rojiblancos want to make the move permanent they will be able to do so for a £15m loss on Chelsea’s original investment.


17) James Rodriguez – Monaco to Real Madrid (€80m, 2014)

James Rodriguez

Coming off the back of his performances at the 2014 World Cup, where he scored six goals and led Colombia to the quarter finals, ​James Rodriguez said it was his ‘life’s dream’ to play for Real Madrid. Los Blancos were happy to oblige, splashing out £63m on the Monaco star.

Rodriguez was certainly living the dream in his first season at the Bernabeu, with 17 goals and 18 assists making him Real’s third most productive player, behind only Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Alas, injuries meant that he couldn’t maintain his promising start.

Seeking to rejuvenate his career, Rodriguez joined Bayern Munich on loan in summer 2017 and excelled in his first year, but injuries have once again slowed his progress. Bayern have declined the opportunity to sign him on a permanent deal, and he is widely believed to be heading for a final exit from the Santiago Bernabeu in the summer.


16) Lucas Hernandez – Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m, 2019)

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French World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez will join ​Bayern Munich from Atletico Madrid on July 1 for a huge €80m fee.

He can play at left back and centre half, and is set to be part of a Bayern overhaul which has also seen the likes of Benjamin Pavard and Jann-Fiete Arp join. There’s going to be more too, you can be sure of that.


15) Kepa Arrizabalaga – Athletic to Chelsea (€80m, 2018)

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Alisson was the world’s most expensive goalkeeper for less than three weeks last summer before he was replaced at the top of the list by Kepa Arrizabalaga, with Chelsea paying Athletic top dollar to replace Thibaut Courtois.

The commanding Basque shot-stopper has settled in well at Stamford Bridge, with his height and agility ensuring that Courtois has not been missed. He cemented his popularity with the Chelsea fans by saving a penalty in the shoot-out which booked their place in the EFL Cup final.

His most famous moment so far, however, has to be that time he refused to be substituted at Wembley against Manchester City.


14) Luis Suarez – Liverpool to Barcelona (€82.3m, 2014)

Luis Suarez

No price tag would have been enough for Liverpool to happily part with ​Luis Suarez, but they couldn’t stand in the way of his dream move to Barcelona, and he became damaged goods (even more so than before) after biting Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.

Liverpool’s title challenge in the 2013/14 season had been so dependant on the brilliance of Suarez that they crumbled without him, finishing sixth the following year and eighth the season after that. Not until signing Mohamed Salah did they fill the void Suarez had left behind.

At Barcelona, Suarez has proved why he is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. He has scored 131 goals in 163 La Liga appearances and is the only player apart from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Pichichi Trophy in the last nine years.


13) Virgil van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool (€84.5m, 2018)

Virgil van Dyke

Some people were sceptical when Liverpool smashed their transfer record to make Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender in January 2018, but 18 months later he is the most important piece of the jigsaw in the Reds’ title bid.

With the Dutchman at the back, Liverpool reached the Champions League final two years in a row, winning it the second time around. Their previously fragile defence is now the sturdiest in the Premier League, after years of committing unforced errors.

Rated by many as one of the world’s best centre backs, Van Dijk has shown that a good defender is worth his weight in gold. The likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Milan Skriniar and Matthijs de Ligt could soon be changing hands for similar fees.


12) Romelu Lukaku – Everton to Manchester United (€84.8m, 2017)

Romelu Lukaku

​Romelu Lukaku can count himself unfortunate to have come in for so much criticism since joining Manchester United in 2017. He averaged nearly a goal every other game in his debut season, but was accused of not being mobile enough and only scoring against lesser sides.

With 27 goals in all competitions, his debut season was actually the most prolific of Lukaku’s career. It’s a little more difficult for him nowadays though, and he could find himself moved on again this summer as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s revamp at Old Trafford.


11) Neymar – Santos to Barcelona (€86.2m, 2013)

Neymar

Brazilian superstar Neymar made the step up to European football in 2013 when joined Barcelona in a highly complicated and controversial deal.

The striker was highly sought after when he broke onto the scene at Santos, with Real Madrid and Barcelona racing to get their hands on him. He eventually announced that he chose the Catalan side, and Barcelona confirmed that they had paid €57.1m for the star.

Several months later an investigation was opened into the transfer by the prosecutor’s office in Madrid, which revealed that the transfer had actually cost the club €86.2m, leading Barcelona and then-vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu to be charged with tax fraud. 

However, Neymar would go on to become the most expensive player in the world and Barcelona would make their investment back and then some.


10) Gonzalo Higuain – Napoli to Juventus (€90m, 2016)

Gonzalo Higuain

In their efforts to finally win that elusive Champions League title, ​Juventus raided Serie A rivals ​Napoli for ​Gonzalo Higuain in 2016. It was a fair price for a striker whose 36 goals the previous season was the highest total in Serie A since 1928/29.

Higuain didn’t quite scale those heights in Turin, though he did score 40 goals in 73 league appearances. As for the Champions League, Higuain scored five goals to help Juventus reach the final in 2016/17, but they came up short again, losing to Real Madrid in Cardiff.

After just two seasons at Juventus, Higuain was loaned out to Milan as part of the deal which brought Leonardo Bonucci back. Just six months later he was on the move again, joining Chelsea.


9) Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid (€94m, 2009)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Nothing which costs €94m can be described as a bargain, but this will go down as one of the greatest transfers ever despite the extortionate price. ​Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Real Madrid as one of the best players in the world and left having established himself as one of the best players of all time.

In nine seasons at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo scored a staggering 450 goals in 438 appearances, won the Ballon d’Or four times, and won every possible trophy at least twice, including four Champions League titles.

The rivalry between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi means that this era of La Liga will always be remembered as one of the greatest periods in football history.


8) Eden Hazard – Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m + €40m in Add-Ons)

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Known as one of the most exhausting and unsurprising transfer sagas in recent years, Eden Hazard completed his highly anticipated move to the Santiago Bernabeu from Chelsea in the summer of 2019.

Hazard made no secret of his desire to join Real Madrid since the 2018 World Cup, saying on several occasions that his dream was to play for Los Blancos and that he had already made up his mind to leave Chelsea.

The Blues managed to keep Hazard at the club in the summer of 2018 despite Real’s advances, and he went on to record the most prolific season of his career, scoring 21 goals and providing 17 assists in all competitions as Chelsea finished the season in third place and claimed the Europa League title.


7) Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid to Juventus €100m, 2018)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Guess who’s back? It’s inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo. Juventus watched Real Madrid win three consecutive Champions League titles and decided they wouldn’t mind a piece of the action, and they were prepared to spend big to get it.

Of all the players on this list, Ronaldo was the oldest at the time of his transfer, but the 33-year-old appears ageless as he has taken to Serie A like a duck to water – with 21 goals and a Scudetto in his debut season.


6) Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid (€100.8m, 2013)

Gareth Bale

Nothing says Real Madrid like breaking your own world transfer record, as Los Blancos did in 2013 when they signed Gareth Bale from Tottenham, slightly surpassing the fee paid for Ronaldo four years prior.

With his price tag naturally drawing comparisons to Ronaldo, Bale was under immediate pressure to succeed, but injuries marred his first six months. However, a sensational winner against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final was the perfect way to ingratiate himself to his new fans.

Though Bale has struggled to maintain consistent popularity during his time in Spain, he has always had the ability to pop up with important goals in big matches, including the 2014 and 2018 Champions League finals.


5) Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United (€105m, 2016)

Paul Pogba

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t make many mistakes in his illustrious career, but allowing ​Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United for nothing in 2012 may be one of his biggest. Pogba’s attitude was called into question, but that did not seem to be a problem at Juventus as he became one of the best midfielders in Serie A.

Four years after letting him leave, Manchester United brought Pogba back to Old Trafford. He made a bright start before Ferguson’s old reservations about his attitude began to resurface, and his performances deteriorated in correlation with his relationship with Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese was replaced in late 2018, and after an initial period of brilliance from the Frenchman, form moved back to the norm.

Rarely has he done enough. But he still remains one of the world’s best.


4) Ousmane Dembele – Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona (€105m + €45m in Add-Ons, 2017)

Ousmane Dembele

Barcelona took a leap of faith when they spent over 100m to sign ​Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. The Frenchman had only spent one season in the Bundesliga, but Barca scouts were convinced that this was a player who could become one of the world’s best.

He isn’t quite in that category yet, but after an injury-ravaged first season at the Camp Nou, Dembele is slowly proving that the faith in him was justified.

Statistics alone cannot convey how impressive Dembele has been, with some of his goals being truly mesmerising: a sensational strike against Sevilla, a sublime run and finish against PSV Eindhoven, and an exhibition of speed and strength against Tottenham, but the jury is still out.


3) Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool to Barcelona (€120m* + €40m in Add-Ons, 2018)

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 in search of trophies and acclaim, and he got what he desired – winning two league titles in a row. But he could only watch on as former club Liverpool lifted the big one in 2019, smashing Coutinho’s Barcelona en-route to the Champions League final itself.

Coutinho has struggled. So much so, in fact, that if you were to label this one of the worst transfers of all time, you’d actually have a strong case. Never before has so much money been put up and such disappointment followed.

That money*, you ask? Barca are reported to have paid an initial €120m to Liverpool, with a series of add ons paid down the line – coming after sealing Champions League qualification, winning the tournament itself and in blocks of appearances. The total could reach €160m if all add-ons are triggered.

Nevertheless, it’ll be an interesting summer in 2019, with Barcelona ready to cut their losses and Coutinho unsure of his own next steps.


2) Kylian Mbappe – Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain (€145m + €35m in Add-Ons, 2018)

Kylian Mbappe

Most of us weren’t alive the last time a teenager did what ​Kylian Mbappe did at the 2018 World Cup. Not since Pele in 1958 had a teenager scored twice in a World Cup match or scored in a World Cup final. He also became the youngest Frenchman ever to score at a World Cup.

For many people, Mbappe’s performances in Russia confirmed that he is the player who will succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best in the world. No wonder PSG made him the world’s most expensive teenager in 2017, with the transfer made official a year later.

However, Mbappe may struggle to fulfil his full potential at PSG, who dominate domestically but are yet to go beyond the quarter finals of the Champions League. If they can’t get it right in the next few years, Mbappe may have to look elsewhere.

Rumour has it that ​he’s thinking about it already


1) Neymar – Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (€222m, 2017)

Neymar Jr

​Neymar’s move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 didn’t so much break the world transfer record as smash it into a million pieces. He became the first player to command a nine-figure sum, with the £198m fee being more than double the previous record of Paul Pogba.

Was it worth it? Neymar has been prolific in front of goal and PSG won the domestic treble in his first season. It was a stroll to the Ligue 1 title in 2018/19 too, but there’s still a sense it’s not gone to plan.

PSG need to see some significant progress in the Champions League, and Neymar was supposed to be the man to lead them to European glory. He was supposed to win the Ballon d’Or, too. But he’s further off that now than he’s ever been, and he may be out the door by September.


All transfer fees according to ​Goal.

Let’

Man Utd Lining Up (Here We Go) David Brooks After Romelu Lukaku Agrees Inter Personal Terms

​Romelu Lukaku has agreed a deal with Inter that will see the Manchester United striker take a pay-cut in order to seal a move to the Serie A side, with only a fee left to be decided between the two clubs.

Antonio Conte has placed the Belgian at the top of the club’s wishlist as part of his summer overhaul, with the player himself ​’officially’ declaring his desire to leave Old Trafford this transfer window.

Now, in a further development, ​The Sun claim that ​Lukaku has struck a solution with the ​Nerazzurri, with personal terms agreed in a deal that would see him take a £45k pay-cut and scoop wages of £180k-per-week.

While no fee has as of yet been agreed, ​United are looking to recuperate the £75m they forked out for the striker two years ago when he signed from Everton.

The same report from The Sun has stated that with the funds that are accrued from Lukaku’s sale (a deal that is expected to go through) they will look to line up Bournemouth’s David Brooks for £50m (a deal that probably won’t go through).

As with every single half-decent British player in the ​Premier League, the Welshman has seemingly got his turn this week to be linked with a move to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s revolution. The Norwegian is known to be keen to add young, home-grown talent to his side, but this claim seems to have arrived out of the blue. 

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Granted, it’s an ‘exclusive’, yet after signing a new long-term contract for Brooks in March on what was already a four-year-deal when he moved to the south coast last summer, it appears to be just another name flung around with United’s name attached.

Brooks enjoyed a fine debut campaign in the top-flight last season, but the staggering price tag and Bournemouth’ strong position make this unlikely. A new two-year deal for Juan Mata also means that another attacking midfielder of Brooks’ ilk may not be a priority right now.

Meanwhile, ​United appear to be very close to a deal for Aaron Wan-Bissaka while a centre-back and central midfield options are also being sought.

Let’

Inter Officially Trigger Options to Buy Matteo Politano and Eddie Salcedo From Sassuolo and Genoa

​Inter have confirmed they have triggered their options to sign Matteo Politano and Eddie Salcedo permanently from Sassuolo and Genoa respectively.

Politano was a prominent member of I Nerazzurri’s first team as the club finished fourth in Serie A and qualified again for the Champions League, while Salcedo featured in Campionato Primavera 1, the youth competition.

Matteo Politano

In separate posts on their website, Inter confirmed the deals. Regarding Politano, they ​stated: “FC Internazionale Milano can confirm that the club has taken up the option to purchase the registration rights of footballer Matteo Politano from U.S. Sassuolo on a permanent basis.”

In an almost word for word statement regarding Salcedo, they ​added: “FC Internazionale Milano can confirm that the club has taken up the option to purchase the registration rights of footballer Eddie Anthony Salcedo from Genoa CFC on a permanent basis.”

Eddie Salcedo

Politano managed five goals and six assists in 36 Serie A appearances during a tumultuous season for Inter, as off field problems with Mauro Icardi impacted their performances on the pitch.

Let’

Throwback: The 50 Best Bargains You’ve Ever Picked Up in FIFA Ultimate Team

​Since FIFA Ultimate Team was introduced in FIFA 09, we have seen some utterly unbelievable cards.

Whilst the high-rated cards like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are obviously great, some of the fan-favourites​ have been the low-rated gems, who still played like they were Ballon d’Or winners.

Here are 50 of the best bargain cards in Ultimate Team history.​


1. John Carew (FIFA 09)

John Carew

Starting off strong here. Really strong.

Back in FIFA 09, John Carew was broken. The ​Aston Villa man was a terrifying blend of speed, finishing and power. Lots and lots of power. He could sprint past any defender, shrug them off as if they were not even there, and then rifle the ball into the back of the net.

His FIFA 10 card was pretty similar, but Carew certainly made his mark here, in the first ever iteration of Ultimate Team.​


2. Gabby Agbonlahor (FIFA 10)

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Aston Villa were the team to be back in FIFA 10, and that was all down to the strike force of Carew and Gabby Agbonlahor.

With his 94 pace, you simply could not catch him, regardless of who was in your team. He was strong enough to hold his own against most defenders, and his shooting was deceptively good.

He remained overpowered for a few more years, before his rating started to tumble.​


3. Taye Taiwo (FIFA 10)

Marseille's Nigerian defender Taiwo Taye

Left-back Taye Taiwo was a popular choice amongst players in FIFA 10, but he rarely stayed back in defence.

The Marseille man, who made it up to an 87 overall that year, had the pace and power needed to dominate opponents, but it was his shot power that set him apart from the rest. He could score from anywhere. Literally anywhere.

He was one of those players that makes you want to stop trying. You couldn’t beat him, you could only hope to contain him.​


4. Stephan El Shaarawy (FIFA 12)

Stephan El Shaarawy

​AC Milan wonderkid Stephan El Shaarawy first graced Ultimate Team back in FIFA 12, when most players had no idea who he was. But that didn’t matter.

The 73-rated silver card had five-star skills and a five-star weak foot which, in the right hands, turned El Sharaawy into a monster. If you knew how to control him, you could bamboozle your opponents for days on end.

​Serie A sides were dominant in early FIFA games, so there were plenty of exciting ways to link him into your team.​


5. Morais (FIFA 12)


Long live the silvers. Long live FIFA 12 Morais.

The midfielder boasted five-star skills, which obviously made him a potent threat, but there was something about his finesse shots which FIFA players will never forget.

Goals would fly in left, right and centre, curling deliciously off his boot and into the back of the net. Brazilian silver players weren’t always the cheapest, but they were some of the best.


6. Moestafa El Kabir (FIFA 12)


Another for the silver brigade, and we’re back in the Serie A with Cagliari’s Moestafa El Kabir.

Whilst his four-star skills weren’t as good as others’, El Kabir was a dominant blend of speed and agility, whilst his dribbling ability was often enough to fly past opponents.

He was in the Swedish league in FIFA 13, which brought an end to his brief reign of terror.​


7. David Luiz (FIFA 12)

David Luiz

If you ask players for the single most overpowered card in the history of Ultimate Team, many will direct you to FIFA 12’s ​David Luiz.

The 82-rated defender, now at ​Chelsea, defied all logic. How could a player be so fast, yet so strong at the same time? Surely it wasn’t possible for Luiz to keep on winning every tackle?​ He felt like a cheat code, as if he should have been locked up in a laboratory somewhere.

He enjoyed a few years as one of the game’s top defenders, but he never came close to his FIFA 12 dominance.


8. Nilmar (FIFA 12)

Villarreal's Brazilian striker Nilmar ce

Like Luiz, FIFA 12’s Nilmar was an insane card. He was the striker that everyone wanted, and it’s not hard to see why.

At 83 overall, Nilmar had the basic stats to be good, but then some unreal boosts in the most overpowered stats around. 92 pace and 86 dribbling, combined with above average finishing, made Nilmar unplayable.

Arguably one of the most popular cards around, Nilmar’s reign at the top was short-lived, but it was certainly full of memories.​


9. Emmanuel Emenike (FIFA 13)

Fc Partizan v Olympiacos - UEFA Champions League Qualifying Third Round: First Leg

When you think of overpowered cards, what is it that springs to mind? Speed? Power? Height? You’ve just pictured Emmanuel Emenike.

Back on FIFA 13, ​the Spartak Moscow star was the complete striker, and his popularity was a large part of FIFA’s growth into one of the world’s most popular games. Everyone was talking about him, and everyone was scoring with him.

His dominance on future FIFA games has varied, but FIFA 13 Emenike will never be forgotten.


10. Welliton (FIFA 13)

Welliton

What’s scarier than one terrifying striker? Two terrifying strikers on the same team.

If you came up against Emenike, chances are you came up against teammate Welliton as well. The Brazilian was faster and more clinical that his already dominant partner, and they could combine to form one of the most awe-inspiring tandems in FIFA history.

He soon fell off the top of the FIFA mountain, but not without leaving his legacy.​


11. Felipe Santana (FIFA 13)​

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Felipe Santana was 6’4 and had 81 pace. What more do I need to tell you?

Speed was everything in FIFA 13. Coming up against strikers like Emenike and Welliton, you needed fast defenders, and Santana was exactly that.​

If you played FIFA 13, you almost certainly rocked a 3-5-2 with three Brazilians at the back: David Luiz, Felipe Santana and…​


12. Dede (FIFA 13)

Boca Juniors v Cruzeiro - Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018

Dede was the final piece in the terrifying Brazilian puzzle. Like Santana, he was 6’4 with 81 pace, so he could keep up with pretty much any striker, assuming the ball ever got past him anyway.

Whilst you could just sprint past most players, there was no chance of you gliding by Dede. If you got near him, he could wipe you out in an instant. The ball was his, you were simply just borrowing it.

His pace seemingly evaporated in FIFA 14, breaking hearts across the world.​


13. Alexander Esswein (FIFA 13)

Alexander Esswein

If you listen carefully, you can still hear the sound of controllers being smashed back on FIFA 13 after Alexander Esswein celebrated his seventh goal of the game.

At face value, he wasn’t very good. He was a 75 overall with distinctly average shooting and dribbling, but there was something about this card that was not human. His 90 pace made him a terror, but his shooting was outrageous. When Esswein wanted to score, he scored.

​Rarely has a striker angered the entire virtual world like Esswein did.


14. Emmanuel Mayuka (FIFA 13)

Emmanuel Mayuka

Hardly a household name, Emmanuel Mayuka played his way into the hearts of die-hard FIFA fans back in FIFA 13.

The ​Southampton man was just 72 rated, but he was stunningly quick, and his dribble moves could be used to devastating effect. It felt like Mayuka was a glitch, as he would fire in long shot after long shot.

It was his first appearance on a game, and rarely has any player made such an immediate impact.


15. Peniel Mlapa (FIFA 13)

Peniel Mlapa

Peniel Mlapa rose to prominence in FIFA 13 as yet another silver card who just seemed to have ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ was.

The towering German was frighteningly quick for someone so tall, and his agility felt as though it was amongst the best in the game. He could ghost past anyone, before thumping a long shot straight into the top corner.

There were so many ways you could fit Mlapa into your team, and most players did so with devastating results.


16. Fabrizio Miccoli (FIFA 13)

Fabrizio Miccoli

It does not make sense how Fabrizio Miccoli was only 82 rated in FIFA 13. The man could do everything.

He boasted elite speed, dribbling, shooting and passing, so he was a perfect fit in most teams. You could play him as an attacking-midfielder or a striker (alongside a certain someone who we will get to in a second), and he would bang in goal after goal after goal.

The biggest downside about Miccoli’s card was that he was just 5’6, but he did more than enough to make up for his lack of aerial prowess.


17. Antonio Di Natale (FIFA 13)

Antonio Di Natale

Beginning as an 85 and rising all the way up to 92, it was hardly surprising that Di Natale was ​a great card. However, what was surprising was just how great he was.

He was a carbon-copy of Miccoli, just with better stats all round. The pair could fly around the pitch and create goals for themselves or each other, and they did so without even breaking a sweat.

When he got his 92-rated Team of the Season card, it was game over. 


18. Jonathan Biabiany (FIFA 13)

Jonathan Biabiany

Pace was the all-important attribute in FIFA 13, and no player encapsulated that more than Jonathan Biabiany.

His card looks poor in terms of his passing and shooting, but all that mattered was his 96 pace. He could fly past even the fastest defenders, and always seemed to be able to whip in a surprisingly effective cross.

He barely even had effective skill moves, but he just didn’t need them. His speed was enough to win games, and he won plenty of them.​


19. Adel Taraabt (FIFA 13)

Adel Taarabt

Skills, skills and more skills. That was the recipe for success when you had Adel Taraabt on your side.

Playing for ​Queens Park Rangers in the ​Premier League, he could waltz into just about any team in the world, and his dribbling would ensure he stayed there. You could draw opponents in, then knock the ball through their legs, spin around three times, do a back flip, and then go get the ball and score.

To make matters worse, he ended up with an in-form, which just boosted his stats even more.​


20. Ramires (FIFA 13)

Ramires

Fans were devastated to see Ramires head to China in 2016, because that meant his card would not be in future games. He had been dominant for years, but Ramires was at the peak of his powers in FIFA 13.

He could tackle, pass and dribble, but his 88 pace was the cherry on top of the cake. Imagine a more physical version of ​N’Golo Kante, and you’ve got Ramires.

The fact that he could link together Brazilians and the Premier League was a squad-building dream, so he ended up in pretty much every side around.​


21. Loic Remy (FIFA 14)

SK Rapid v Chelsea F.C.  - Friendly Match

Loic Remy was one of the top strikers in many different FIFA games, but his FIFA 14 card could be linked with so many good players.

Make no mistake about it, his pace, power and finishing made him a frightening prospect on his own, but the teams you could build around him were next level. Playing for ​Newcastle United and then Chelsea, you could link him to the likes of Andre Schurrle, ​Eden Hazard and ​Romelu Lukaku.

However, there was one many who created one of the most terrifying strong links in FIFA history…


22. Samuel Eto’o (FIFA 14)

FBL-EUR-C1-CHELSEA-TRAINING

Back in the 2013/14 season, Samuel Eto’o was hardly the world’s greatest striker, but his FIFA 14 card played like he was.

You could pair him in attack with Chelsea teammate Remy, which would give you a truly dominant strike force. Both had speed, dribbling and heading, and both could tear through defences with ease.

Eto’o also had four-star skills, so there was almost nothing he couldn’t do. He was an irresistable force in attack, and his goal record proved it.​


23. Fredy Guarin (FIFA 14)

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-PARMA

Some of the game’s best midfielders are those with high stats all over their card, and Inter’s Fredy Guarin was no exception back in FIFA 14.

The Colombian powerhouse was just great at everything. Whether it was passing, sprinting, tackling or shooting, you knew that you could pull it off with Guarin at your disposal.

His long shots were also unreal, just adding yet another skill to Guarin’s vast locker. If you had a Serie A side, you definitely wanted Guarin.​


24. Younes Kaboul (FIFA 14)

Younes Kaboul,Jan Vertonghen

Height? Check. Pace? Check. Strength? Check. Younes Kaboul had it all back then.

The ​Tottenham Hotspur star was incredible all year long. His pace never let you down, and he was a good-enough defender to win the ball once you got him into position. Higher-rated cards came out, but few actually matched Kaboul’s performances.

You could use him to link France and the Premier League, which meant there were some frightening hybrids popping up.


25. Marco Sau (FIFA 14)

Marco Sau

In FIFA 14, you didn’t need high-rated cards. All you needed was somebody quick in attack, and Marco Sau was often that somebody.

With his 91 pace, he was the archetypal FIFA star, and his agility and low centre of balance meant he could fly past defenders all day long.

He also boasted surprisingly powerful shots, so everything about his was just outrageously fast. You couldn’t catch him, and you couldn’t stop him scoring.​


26. Jackson Martinez (FIFA 14)

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At the beginning of FIFA 14, Porto hitman Jackson Martinez was one of the finest options around. He was fast, albeit not as fast as most, but he made up for it with the rest of his physique.

He was so strong and so clinical in the box, and he gradually accumulated special cards throughout the year, ensuring he was always improving. 

By the end of the game, he had an 86-rated TOTS card, and it was sublime. He had the pace which he was lacking before, on top of even more shooting and strength. He was the complete package.​


27. Eddie Johnson (FIFA 14)

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After reviving his career following his departure from ​Fulham, Eddie Johnson wrote his name into FIFA folklore with a number of incredible cards.

Like so many before him, Johnson was a silver card with pace, strength and height. His card only had 64 shooting, but there just had to have been a mistake there. The American didn’t miss. Ever.

You could put Johnson up against any centre-back in the game and he would likely come out on top. 


28. Julian Draxler (FIFA 14)

FBL-EUR-C1-SCHALKE-MARIBOR

Non-rare cards are usually discarded before they even get a chance to impress, but not ​Schalke’s Julian Draxler back in FIFA 14.

He may have just been an 80 overall, but he was comfortably one of the finest midfielders on the game. His strength and passing was impeccable, but what made this card stand out so much was his long shots. 

Even the most inexperienced player could score with Draxler. Just hold down the shoot button, and he would do the rest for you.


29. Victor Ibarbo (FIFA 15)

Victor Ibarbo

Since FIFA 12, there has not been a Victor Ibarbo card that wasn’t outrageously overpowered, but his FIFA 15 version stands out for many reasons.

Again, Ibarbo’s combination of speed and power was unreal. He was a combination of Ronaldo, ​Sergio Aguero and Didier Drogba, and he could bully any defender on any given day. 

Ibarbo joined Roma in January 2016, and got changed from a striker to a right-winger. Everything that was great about Ibarbo ​was about to get a whole lot better, and you’ll soon find out why.


30. Seydou Doumbia (FIFA 15)

FBL-ITA-SASSUOLO-ROMA

Ibarbo was now on the right and you needed a new striker to replace him. Fortunately, Roma had the perfect option in FIFA legend Seydou Doumbia, who they signed in January 2016.

With his 93 pace and imposing strength, he was almost a carbon copy of Ibarbo, and the pair surely caused more than a few nightmares throughout 2016.

​But, who would play as a left-winger? Read on.


31. Gervinho (FIFA 15)

Gervinho

Fans around the world were in hysterics when they realised that Ibarbo and Doumbia could be linked with the pacey Gervinho. The trio were arguably the most overpowered front line in FIFA history.

The former Arsenal man brought his 93 pace to the party, meaning each member of this Roma group were just as overpowered as the others. You could fit all three into your team flawlessly, and the goals came flooding in as soon as you did.

Opponents simply could not handle this terrifying group of fast and powerful players, so they would often quit the game after you had scored three or four. To this day, we have never seen anything like Ibarbo, Doumbia and Gervinho again.​


32. Nedum Onuoha (FIFA 15)

Nedum Onuoha

As the year progresses and new cards get released, the low-rated golds often find themselves out of most players’ teams, but not Nedum Onuoha.

He may have been just 75 rated, but his 83 pace, 75 defending and 77 physical was all you needed. He was electric across the pitch, and players needed defenders like him to cope with some of the overpowered forwards who we have already seen.

​Onuoha could dominate even the best strikers on the game, so fans never felt the need to replace him.


33. Asmir Begovic (FIFA 15)

Asmir Begovic

Goalkeepers have always been a controversial part of FIFA. Sometimes they are great, something they are awful. However, ​Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic was always reliable.

He was only 82 rated, but his towering 6’7 frame made him completely impenetrable. Whether shots rained in from distance or close range, Begovic would almost always save the day.

He earned himself a move to Chelsea in the summer of 2016, and was a regular part of everyone’s team for the entire year.


34. Yassine Chikhaoui (FIFA 15)

AFCON Quarter Final - Tunisia v Cameroon

The impact of a super-sub is often touted as the most important thing in football, and FIFA 15’s Yassine Chikhaoui was about as good as they come.

His base card was described as a cheap alternative to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and it’s clear to see why. He was fast, powerful and tall, and his five-star skill moves made him an absolute nightmare to try and defend.

He picked up two in-forms as the year went on, and players were clambering to pick him up. He was one of the most complete strikers we have ever seen, and he scored countless late goals.​


35. Obafemi Martins (FIFA 15)

Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins’ 76-rated base card was impressive, allowing for a number of exciting ​Major League Soccer sides. However, it was his TOTS card which earns him a place on this list.

He had 98 pace, 88 shooting and 85 dribbling. Everything he did, he did impeccably, and it’s just a shame that the card came around towards the end of FIFA 15’s life cycle.

You could also link him to an in-form Emineke, which was just outrageous.​


36. Andre Schurrle (FIFA 15)

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Andre Schurrle was another of those cards who dominated for many years, but his FIFA 15 card was the pick of the bunch.

The winger had the kind of speed and agility that players over 6’0 don’t normally have, whilst his shooting was also sublime for just a 81-rated card.

He had cards for both Chelsea and Wolfsburg, so he slotted seamlessly into teams across the globe.​


37. Ahmed Musa (FIFA 15)

FBL-EUR-C3-ARSENAL-CSKA MOSCOW

If Doumbia wasn’t already terrifying at Roma, he actually began the game at CSKA Moscow, where he could link up with Ahmed Musa.

The Nigerian was infamous for his 93 pace and 81 dribbling, and he truly was one of the most potent attackers around.

He joined ​Leicester City the following year, so he featured in even more squads, but that strong link with Doumbia was the stuff of legend.​


38. Ralf Fahrmann (FIFA 16)

Ralf Faehrmann

After an impressive 2014/15 season, Ralf Fahrmann netted himself a nice upgrade for FIFA 16, and he became one of the top goalkeepers in FIFA history.

His 6’5 frame made him capable of reaching almost any shot, and his talent only grew as he picked up in-forms and a TOTS card.

His reflexes were incredible, and he made countless saves which left you scratching your head. Humans can’t do the kind of things FIFA 16 Fahrmann could do.​


39. Benoit Tremoulinas (FIFA 16)

FBL-EUR-C1-MAN CITY-SEVILLE

If you just look at Benoit Tremoulinas’ FIFA 16 card, you wouldn’t guess he was so good. Even now, people aren’t really sure, but they are just glad he was.

The left-back was an absolute monster in defence, whilst he could ​also be found bombing up the pitch to whip in picture-perfect crosses to give your team an added threat.

He didn’t get any special cards, but he didn’t need them. The Frenchman was good enough already.


40. Mame Diouf (FIFA 16)

Mame Biram Diouf

As you should have learned by now, the trick to being an overpowered player is to have electric pace and overwhelming power. In FIFA 16, Mame Diouf was the man for the job.

His 68 dribbling made for some sluggish movements at times, but his 90 pace more than made up for it, as he would end up soaring past any defender, even if they had a head start.

One of Diouf’s best attributes was his shot power. He could send shots crashing into the back of the net before you could even blink, and there was no chance you were saving them.​


41. Adrian Ramos (FIFA 16)

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-DORTMUND

Oh look – another huge, fast striker. Being good at FIFA isn’t as hard as you might think…

Like a human wrecking ball, Adrian Ramos would simply overwhelm defenders. Nobody could match his athleticism, which resulted in countless chances for you to score.

His Colombian links offered some terrifying options, whilst there were also plenty of Bundesliga teams who profited from Ramos’ inclusion.


42. Jack Butland (FIFA 17)

Jack Butland

To this day, players still live in fear of FIFA 17’s Jack Butland. The Stoke star was an utterly sublime goalkeeper who caused you problems each and every game.

There was no point spending thousands and thousands of coins on a high-rated goalkeeper when Butland was better than them all. Far better.

​He picked up a Futties card late in the game, which left fans in tears. What was the point in playing the game when you were simply never going to score?


43. Chris Smalling (FIFA 17)

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

To make matters worse, Butland would often be linked with ​Manchester United’s Chris Smalling, who played like prime Paolo Maldini in FIFA 17.

He was 84 rated with 77 pace, 84 defending and 84 physical. Add in his 6’4 frame, and you’ve got yourself the perfect centre-back.

Like Butland, he also got his own upgraded Futties card, and the two combined to be arguably the greatest defensive pairing in FIFA history.​


44. Renato Sanches (FIFA 17)

Renato Sanches

Renato Sanches’ first inclusion in Ultimate came in FIFA 17, when he was rewarded with a 78-card. Fortunately for players, it felt much better than that.

The powerful midfielder could do a little bit of everything, forcing opponents off the ball before bursting forward and unleashing a ferocious long shot. He was everything you needed from your entire midfield in one 5’9 bundle.

He began the game’s life cycle as part of most people’s teams, and he retained his place for the entire season. He was that good.​


45. Anthony Martial (FIFA 17)

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In FIFA 17, many players felt that the only upgrade to ​Anthony Martial was ​Cristiano Ronaldo, and that should tell you everything you need to know about the Frenchman.

He played exactly like Ronaldo. He was a dominant dribbler, but he also had the power and creativity to torment defenders. He was about as perfect as wingers come.

This was all just his base card, so you can imagine the reaction when he ended up with an 86-rated in-form.


46. Tiemoue Bakayoko (FIFA 18)

Tiemoue Bakayoko

If you wanted a great defensive-midfielder in FIFA 18, the only player you needed was Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko.

His card was far from spectacular, but he felt like an absolute robot. He could sniff out danger before it had even arrived, and his physicality ensured he could win the ball back nine times out of ten.

​He was atrocious going forward, but that’s not what Bakayoko was about. Let the other players handle the attacking, and he will sort out the defending all on his own.


47. Romain Alessandrini (FIFA 18)

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Romain Alessandrini has long been a FIFA favourite thanks to his insane pace, but his place as a FIFA legend is all thanks to his FIFA 18 cards.

His 77-rated base card was good, but before you knew it, he had a 92-rated Futties card, and it was absolutely incredible. His pace and shooting was about as perfect as you can hope to find, and he now had the physicals to compete with even the toughest defender.

LA Galaxy cards weren’t the easiest to fit into your team, but most players tried their hardest to find a way for Alessandrini.​


48. Hirving Lozano (FIFA 18)

Hirving Lozano

Hirving Lozano’s rise to prominence is very similar to Alessandrini’s. A fast winger, the Mexican was always an impressive card, but it was his special cards which stole the spotlight.

His dribbling was amongst the greatest in the game, and the fact that he could shoot or pass at the end of a move made him even better. You couldn’t predict what Lozano was going to do, because he was good enough to do whatever he tried to.

He would often be substituted into the game after mere seconds, because players wanted to play with him for as long as possible.​


49. Eric Bailly (FIFA 18)

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​Eric Bailly had been steadily improving for a number of years by the time FIFA 18 rolled out, and his reward was a stunning 84-rated base card.

With his 78 pace, he was one of the fastest centre-backs on the game, and his imposing physique made him the complete package. He was in every Premier League side, and understandably so.

Another of those who didn’t need upgrades to remain relevant, Bailly was a starter in teams for the entire season.​


50. Geoffrey Kondogbia (FIFA 19)

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It didn’t take fans long to figure out that Geoffrey Kondogbia was the overpowered player in FIFA 19.

At 6’2, he boasts the physique to establish himself as a dominant force in defence, whilst he is also technically capable of bursting forward and helping out in attack. He is like FIFA 18’s Bakayoko, only with an end product on top.

After changing international allegiance to the Central African Republic, fans struggled to fit Kondogbia into their sides for the remainder of the season, but his 89-rated Road to the Final card is still the stuff of dreams.

Let’

Inter Loan Players: How They Got on Away From the San Siro During the 2018/19 Season

Italian giants Inter loaned out 25 players during the 2018/19 season who, for a myriad reason, were unable to gain regular football at the San Siro.

New boss Antonio Conte will be running the rule over the players during pre-season this summer, and will be eager to see if any of the former loan players can fit into his system.

The Milan-based side finished fourth in ​Serie A last campaign, level on points with Atalanta in third, and Conte will be looking to all avenues to improve their position.

With that in mind, here is our top six loan players that could make an impact in Antonio Conte’s side.


Zinho Vanheusden

Zinho Vanheusden,Luca Vido

Young centre-back option Zinho Vanheusden could well find his way into Antonio Conte’s thoughts. 

The 19-year-old was loaned out to Belgian club Standard Liege for the second half of last season, and he quickly asserted himself in the team.

The defender made 30 appearances for Liege, scoring twice and assisting once. He even won the Belgian Cup, adding to his Italian youth champion and Coppa Italia Primavera trophies.

As Conte favours three central-defenders in his system, there could well be a chance for Vanheusden as was seen with Andreas Christensen in his time at ​Chelsea.

Rating: 9/10


Federico Dimarco

Federico Dimarco

Versatile left-back Federico Dimarco was loaned out to Serie A rivals Parma during the 2018/19 campaign.

The 21-year-old is believed to have a big future ahead of him and has been capped for Italy’s Under-21s eight times. However, Dimarco would have hoped to make more than 14 appearances for Parma last season.

​It may be too soon for a starting place in Antonio Conte’s side, but he could be a good second choice on the left-side of defence.

Rating: 7/10


Yann Karamoh

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Highly-rated forward Yann Karamoh played 33 games on loan at Bordeaux last season.

The 20-year-old, who can play anywhere across the front three, scored three goals and created three for his teammates in his time in Ligue 1.

Although those numbers aren’t prolific, there’s no doubting the impact that Karamoh’s pace has on the game, and for that reason he may be in Conte’s plans.

The Frenchman could be perfect for one of the inside forward positions that Conte employs, just behind a sole striker.

Yann Karamoh is probably not ready to start regularly but can certainly make an impact off the bench.

Rating: 7/10


Alessandro Bastoni

Alessandro Bastoni

Central-defender Alessandro Bastoni was loaned to Parma for the 2018/19 season. The defender made 24 Serie A appearances, scoring one goal.

The 20-year-old could well be in direct competition with the previously mentioned Zinho Vanheusden for a spot in Antonio Conte’s back-three. If that is the case, Bastoni win out due to the fact that he has Serie A experience on his side. 

However, Vanheusden made more appearances on his loan spell, scored one more goal and has experience of winning trophies. It will be an interesting tussle between the two for who is granted a spot in Conte’s defence.

Rating: 8/10


Gabriel Barbosa

Gabriel Barbosa

He shares his name with a Pirates of the Caribbean villain, and Gabriel Barbosa plays in an expected swashbuckling fashion on the pitch. 

The Brazilian centre-forward is already a full international, having made four appearances for the national team and scoring twice.

The 22-year-old’s value rocketed in 2016, joining Inter for €29.5m. However, three years later the youngster was loaned to Flamengo having failed to make an impact at San Siro.

​Barbosa made just 12 appearances all season for the Brazilian side but did score seven goals, an impressive return given his game-time.

A mixed bag then for the striker on loan who will be craving for the new manager to come in and give him a fresh start.

Rating: 7/10


Andrea Pinamonti

Andrea Pinamonti

Andrea Pinamonti played up front for Frosinone last season as he looked to gain more first team minutes.

The 20-year-old scored five goals and registered three assists in his 27 appearances last campaign and will be looking to beat Gabigol to a place up front.

Barbosa’s goalscoring record is superior to Pinamonti’s but the youngster does have experience in Serie A on his side, finishing 19th with Frosinone during his loan spell.

Another loan to a more stable Serie A club could be a good move for Pinamonti, or another club in one of Europe’s top flights.

Rating: 4/10

Let’

Inter ‘Destined’ to Complete Nicolo Barella Deal as Move for Hertha BSC Star Edges Closer

​Cagliari midfielder Nicolò Barella is ‘destined’ to join Inter this summer after learning that Antonio Conte has taken over at San Siro, while the Nerazzurri are also close to completing a deal for Hertha BSC winger Valentino Lazaro.

Even before Conte was officially appointed in Milan, the club were lining up a list of transfer targets ahead of the new season, most notably including Edin Džeko and Romelu Lukaku.

But the race to see who will be the first through the doors at Inter is still up for debate, with La Gazzetta dello Sport suggesting that either Barella or Lazaro could actually be the club’s first signings this summer.

Valentino Lazaro

A deal for free agent Diego Godín is believed to be already completed, but Austria international Lazaro could become their first major signing after submitting an €18m offer – including an extra €2m in bonuses – which is just shy of Hertha’s valuation.

For Barella, however, things are proving to be a little more complicated.

Calcio Mercato confirm that the 22-year-old midfielder is eager to join Inter ahead of the 2019/20 season, while the Nerazzurri are equally keen on getting a deal over the line.

But Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini is digging his heels in over a €50m valuation for the player, while Inter aren’t prepared to pay more than €35m for his signature.

City rivals AC Milan have also been reported to be interest in snatching Barella from under Inter’s nose, but the Rossoneri understand that the midfielder already has his heart set on wearing black and blues next season.

Their report insists that Barella’s move to Inter is still ‘destined to happen’ and it’s added that Conte’s side are confident of completing a deal within the next 10 days, while La Gazzetta’s more conservative timeline is at least before their pre-season kicks off early next month.

Let’

Transfer Rumours: Herrera’s Next Move, Maguire Latest, Sarr to Newcastle or Watford & More

There’s the Women’s World Cup and the Copa America providing drama by the bucket. The Africa Cup of Nations starts soon, so does the Under-21 Euros, but we know what you really want. It’s #thegoss.

Ok then, strap in and get your corneas around this lot of rumours featuring the likes of Ander Herrera, Ismaila Sarr, Adrien Rabiot…and even Terence Kongolo. Phwoar.


Ander Herrera PSG Move in Doubt Amid Atleti Interest

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Remember when Ander Herrera was definitely signing for Paris Saint-Germain? Well, now it seems like he’s more of a maybe.

The soon-to-be ex-Manchester United midfielder was seemingly Paris-bound last month, but the reports of an imminent deal cooled. ​Paris United (those ITKs who broke all the good Mbappe and Neymar stuff) add now that Atleti boss Diego Simeone ‘loves’ Herrera.

La Decisión (hey maybe there’s a documentary in this?) is in Ander’s handers. 

Could he do a Juan Mata and perform a handbrake U-ey and still stay at United? Probs not, nah. He already did a ​goodbye message with a subtle dig at Steven Gerrard, remember? 


Man Utd Try to Sweeten Maguire Deal With Pereira Bait

Harry Maguire

Sticking with United (cos 90% of the news in this transfer window is about them, let’s face facts), Ed Woodward has a genius solution for getting Harry Maguire to Old Trafford without paying silly money.

According to ​The Sun, United are willing to throw one mint-condition, barely used Andreas Pereira (ahem, on loan) into the bargain to lower Hazza Maguazza’s £90m price tag. 

Exactly how much they expect that tempting little morsel to lower the price, The Sun don’t speculate but they do note that Brendan Rodgers loves a bit of Pereira having tried to bring him to Celtic back in the day.

United haven’t had much luck with centre-back pursuits of late having been quoted £75m for West Ham’s Issa Diop and been used as a pawn by real-life Cersei Lannister, Mino Raiola, in the never-ending saga for Matthijs de Ligt.

If Maguire doesn’t come off, expect a £150m deadline day bid to bring back Jonny Evans.


Aston Villa Move for Terence Kongolo and James Justin

Terence Kongolo

But what’s happening at Aston Villa you cry? Well, I’m glad you asked.

As reward for their heroics earning promotion back to the Premier League, Villa are ready to ditch several of the stars that got them there and fork out for expensive upgrades. Cheers lads.

The ​Mail say Villa want 25-year-old centre back Terence Kongolo from Huddersfield while the ​Star tout £10m-rated James Justin from Luton, to join newbies Kortney Hause, Jota, Anwar El Ghazi and Wesley Moraes who’ve already made permanent moves.


Napoli Star Rejects Wolves in Favour of Roma

Amadou Diawara,Diadia Samassekou

Staying in the Midlands, ​Sky Sport Italia says that Napoli midfielder Amadou Diawara has ‘rejected’ a move to Wolves and is instead waiting for Roma to call. 

I mean, I can’t say I blame him.

While that’s rubbish news for Nuno and co. it’s intriguing for Napoli, who also happen to want Roma’s Kostas Manolas and could try to use Diawara as bait.

However, word on the street is that Roma want any suitors for Manolas (another of the 50 or so defenders linked to Man Utd in the past year) to pay his full buyout clause of €36m.

€36m? You couldn’t get Maguire’s forehead for that.


Southampton Close in on £14m Adams Deal

Che Adams

Dropping down to the south coast (after a brief sojourn to Naples), Southampton look to be about to sign a new striker… and one who actually scores goals!

The Telegraph claim that the Saints are ‘expected’ to pay £14m to complete a deal for Birmingham frontman Che Adams, having already seen at least two bids rejected.

22-year-old Adams scored 22 times in 43 starts in the Championship in 2018/19 – the kind of numbers that make Shane Long shed a tear. Burnley and Everton have also been linked but Southampton’s haste appears to have won them the day.

Adams will be the second signing completed under Ralph ‘don’t call me rabbit hutch’ Hasenhuttl after the £14m deal for Moussa Djenepo from Standard Liege.


Watford See Bid Rejected for Newcastle Target Ismaila Sarr

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In other forward-related news, both Watford and Newcastle are slugging it out for Rennes star Ismaila Sarr.

The former have already seen a €30m bid knocked back, while the latter are contemplating upping the ante, according to ​L’Equipe.

21-year-old Sarr is in Egypt with Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations, after an impressive season in Ligue 1.

Whether Newcastle actually submit a bid north of £27m surely depends on whether:
​a) This takeover actually happens

b) Mike Ashley is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.


Pochettino ‘Phones’ Lo Celso Amid Spurs Transfer Interest 

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After two windows of transfer-window abstinence, Spurs are ready to spaff the cash once again, but only within reason and depending on sales, of course. 

Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso is one the big targets for Tottenham this summer, with a number of reports already outlining their interest in the Argentine player, who (remarkably) has never knowingly been labelled the ‘new Messi’.

Lo Celso has an £89m release clause but rumour has it the Andalusians might entertain bids of substantially south of that. Man Utd (shock) have also been linked, but a report from ​El Confidencial claims that Mauricio Pochettino has been on the phone to his countryman to explain his interest.

The caveat is that they can’t pay big (not over £35m) unless say, I dunno, a certain Danish midfielder is sold for big bucks.


Newcastle Eye Up Venezuelan Star at Copa America

Miguel Trauco,Jefferson Savarino

According to ​Sky Sports, Newcastle are looking at Venezuela star (no, not Salomon Rondon, sorry) Jefferson Savarino, who plays his football out in the States for Real Salt Lake.

The playmaker is apparently available for just £6m (‘that’s more like it’, cries Ashley somewhere), with scouts set to watch him against Brazil in the Copa America on Wednesday.

Newcastle, who have a thing for South American MLS stars, are joined by West Ham in their interest in the 22-year-old winger.

Savarino has scored 13 times in 57 appearances in two-and-a-bit seasons in Major League Soccer.


Kovacic Has Heart Set on Inter Return

Mateo Kovacic,Maurizio Sarr

Mateo Kovacic won’t be at Chelsea next season after a bit of a dud of a year for the Europa League winners in 2018/19. 

He is unlikely to stick around with parent club Real Madrid either and has his heart set on a move back to former employers Inter, according to Corriere Dello Sport (via ​CalcioMercato).

The claim is that even if Nicolo Barella arrives at San Siro, Inter will still be able to afford Kovacic, while the Croatian midfielder is willing to go out on loan initially to secure his dream return to the club he represented between 2013 and 2015.


Adrien Rabiot Closes in on Big-Money Juventus Deal

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And finally, it wouldn’t be a gossip roundup without a ‘bomba’ from ​El Chringuito…What you saying Josep Pedrerol and the lads?

You’re saying that magnificently maned PSG super sulker Adrien Rabiot is going to Juventus with a €10m signing-on bonus and wages of €7m a year on a five-year deal? Lovely, that’ll do nicely.

Hasta mañana.


Let’

Antonio Conte: An Astute Tactician Whose Perfectionist Philosophy Reinvented the 3-5-2 Wheel

Antonio Conte is number 44 in 90min’s Top 50 Great Managers of All Time series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next 10 weeks. 


Winning a league title as a manager is hard.

Retaining a league title as manager is even harder.

Moving abroad and replicating that success in a league you are unfamiliar is harder still.

Winning that league at the first time of asking – that’s special.

Antonio Conte

So that is perhaps how we should best describe Antonio Conte. Special.

A fiery, passionate and iron willed central midfielder, Conte has enjoyed a lengthy career at the top of the game – spending the majority of his playing career patrolling the midfield of Juventus to great success.

Under the guidance of legendary managers Marcello Lippi, Giovanni Trapattoni and Carlo Ancelotti, he probably picked up a thing or two en-route to winning multiple Scudetto titles, a Champions League and UEFA Cup, as well as a glutful of Supercoppa Italiana crowns.

Known now as one of the most tactically shrewd managers of the current era, Conte was pretty handy on the field too. You usually have something about you when you make almost 300 Serie A appearances for Juventus alone.

His boundless energy and industrious playing style went largely unrewarded on the international stage, however, with competition for places in Italy’s midfield during the mid to late 1990s. 

By the turn of the millennium, Conte had forced his way back to the Azzurri’s first team reckoning – scoring in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Denmark, before his more artistic style was painted in the tournament itself – in the form of a bicycle kick against Turkey in Italy’s opening group game.

Antonio Conte

Injury would force him out of the quarter-final win over Romania, and Conte’s international exploits ended there. Only as a player mind you.

Retirement from the game four years later led to his first off-field role, serving as assistant manager at Siena to Luigi De Canio.

A first managerial appointment followed at Serie B side Arezzo soon after, but Conte’s two spells (he was sacked before being re-appointed) at the club ended in misery and relegation to the third tier of Italian football.

Determined to put that setback behind him, Conte next took charge of Bari in Serie B – assuming control with I Galletti struggling in the lower reaches of the table. It didn’t take him long to turn their fortunes around and by the end of the season, they had comfortably secured a place in mid-table.

It’s from here that Conte’s managerial career began to take off. Playing an expansive brand of football that was often perceived as an attacking 4-2-4 formation, Conte encouraged his wingers to push up on the full-back at any given opportunity.

Antonio Conte

This subtle tactical tweak led the club to promotion by way of winning Serie B – four points ahead of nearest challengers Parma, and a whopping 12 points ahead of third-placed Livorno.

Rumours surfaced that Conte would be approached to take over at former club Juventus, but he initially pledged his loyalty to Bari – only to see the offer of a new contract rescinded. He joined Atalanta as a result, but didn’t stay long, enduring a fractious relationship with the club’s fanbase.

A return to Serie B with Siena, whom he had assisted at the started of his coaching career, brought a second promotion to Serie A and finally landed Conte the job he had been waiting for – a return to Turin with Juventus.

It’s there that Conte honed his craft, and became regarded as one of the most tactically astute managers in the current game.

Not afraid to experiment, Conte frequently changed formations and approach during the early stages of his Juventus stint. Keen to find a system that best suited his high-pressing, relentless work-rate mentality, he finally adopted a 3-5-2 formation – sparking a return to prominence for a system that, at the time. was largely discarded at the highest level of the game.

Antonio Conte,Leonardo Bonucci

In settling on this formation, Conte helped Juventus master a new identity that would form the backbone of what has gone to become an unprecedented era of Serie A dominance for La Vecchia Signora.

Three sturdy centre-backs, typically in the form of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, formed the backbone to his team.

Wing-backs, who scampered up and down the line for 90 minutes operated as attacking wide midfielders in possession, before tucking in to form a compact back five when under pressure.


Career Honours

​Serie B (2008/09)
Serie A (2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14)​
​Supercoppa Italiana 2012, 2012
​Premier League 2016/17
Premier League Manager of the Season 2016/17
​LMA Manager of the Year 2016/17
​FA Cup 2017/18

The midfield core was equally as important and hinged on the talents of the mercurial Andrea Pirlo. Playing at the base of midfield, his deep-lying playmaker role allowed for more expansive contributions from Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, as well as Paul Pogba a year later.

Adopting a higher press up the pitch, Conte’s Juventus team stifled their opposition and enjoyed vast swathes of possession in the majority of their matches. Soon, he had his players unwavering support and the rewards were soon reaped by the Old Lady.

Three successive Serie A titles, the third with an unprecedented record points tally of 102, and two Supercoppa Italiana crowns made their way onto Conte’s mantelpiece, laying the foundations of a winning mentality in Turin.

Antonio Conte


“The fans in the Matthew Harding Stand spent the second half bellowing Antonio Conte’s name, making it perfectly clear that they have a new hero at Stamford Bridge.” Jacob Steinberg, The Guardian (November 2016)


Some five years later, Juventus are yet to surrender their crown – though Conte would play no further part in the club’s journey after opting to resign in May 2014, having failed to conquer in a similar vein on the European stage.

A turbulent two-year spell in charge of the Italian national team followed, before he was thrust back into the furnace of club management – taking the reins in 2016 at trigger happy Chelsea, who had steamrolled their way through 11 managers since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club in 2003.

His tenure began with a narrow win over West Ham, but soon he was under the cosh after a dismal performance at Arsenal resulted in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium – a week after losing to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Conte went back to what he knew, and revamped the Blues’ style of play – introducing his now famed 3-5-2 formation to devastating effect.

Soon, Chelsea had turned things around and set a new club record of 11 consecutive league wins in a row. By the turn of the year, they were six points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table and on course to win the title – with their playing style and absolute domination earning plaudits from all around.

Relentless in his pursuit of success, Conte refused to let his players take their foot off the gas. They lifted Premier League title at the conclusion of the season – beating neighbourhood rivals Tottenham to the punch by seven points, racking up 93 points after lying eighth in the league at the end of September – six points behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Antonio Conte


You have got to be good at everything. You have got to try and excel at everything. To do this you have got to study and since I became a coach, for me, it has been continuous study.” Antonio Conte.


It was a far cry from the dismal league campaign that Chelsea had endured the season before. Defending their fourth Premier League crown, won under Jose Mourinho, the Blues had seemed outdated, past it and a shadow of their former selves as they mustered a 10th place finish.

Now, under Conte and working with a near identical squad of players, they were winners again. The heavily criticised David Luiz became an instant star as he assumed the role of ball-playing defender, whilst N’Golo Kante continued his rise to superstardom at the base of midfield. Eden Hazard flourished under the guidance of Conte, and like him or loathe him, Diego Costa was near impossible to handle up front.

Sadly, the wheels came off somewhat in Conte’s second season. 

A frosty relationship with Costa led to a highly publicised feud, and the Italian boss appeared at odds with the club too. These off-the-field shenanigans dented Chelsea’s hopes of defending their title, and the now distant Italian could only steer his side to a fifth-placed finish, some 23 points off the pace they had set the previous season.

Not even a FA Cup triumph, in what turned out to be Conte’s last game in charge, could bring much of a smile to his face. 

What is undisputed, though, is his legacy in English football alone. 

He may have only graced these shores for two seasons, but Conte’s introduction of playing three at the back was soon adopted by almost every other Premier League side – a testament to how difficult his side were to play against.

Now, he’s about to embark on a new journey in Italy – where he’ll hope his organised and disciplined methods can help the Nerazzurri break Juventus’ stranglehold over Italian football.


Number 50: Marcelo Bielsa – El Loco’s Journey From Argentina to Footballing Immortality in Europe

Number 49: Vic Buckingham – How an Englishman Discovered Johan Cruyff & Pioneered Total Football

Number 48: Claudio Ranieri: A Ridiculed Tinkerman Who Masterminded One of Football’s Greatest Ever Achievements

Number 47: Bill Nicholson: Mr Tottenham Hotspur, the First Double Winning Manager of the 20th Century

Number 46: Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Scudetto Winning Shagger Who Never Solved the Lampard-Gerrard Conundrum

Number 45: ​Sir Alf Ramsey: The Man Behind the ‘Wingless Wonders’ & England’s Sole World Cup Triumph


Let’

Gary Cahill Linked With Shock Inter Switch as Antonio Conte Eyes Reunion With Chelsea Veteran

Antonio Conte is eager to reunite with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill at Inter and could authorise a shock move for the veteran​ centre back.

Cahill was a key part of Conte’s Premier League title-winning side in the 2016/17 season, but is set to leave Chelsea this summer when his contract expires after failing to impress Maurizio Sarri last term.

David Luiz,Gary Cahill

​Aston Villa have been linked with the 33-year-old, but ​Sport Mediaset state that ​Inter could also move to sign him for new manager Conte.

Miranda has been tipped to leave San Siro this summer, with a return to his native Brazil potentially on the cards, so Inter scouts have begun looking for alternative options, and Conte has steered them towards ​Cahill.

The 33-year-old, once a core part of ​Chelsea’s defence, was restricted to just eight appearances last season, leading him to ​criticise Sarri’s attitude towards him before confirming his departure from Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte,Gary Cahill

However, in Conte’s title-winning season with the Blues, Cahill started 36 out of 38 ​Premier League games, forming the spine of the side which shattered winning records.

The former ​Champions League winner is expected to generate plenty of interest this summer, with Villa, ​Burnley and ​Fulham all tipped to make a move for Cahill. 

With 349 Premier League appearances to his name, he boasts an incredible level of top flight experience, which could be crucial for any side.

Diego Godin

Whether he would hold the same value with Inter is a different question. The ​Serie A side currently have Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij at their disposal, whilst Diego Godin is expected to arrive this summer to add another quality option in defence, so first team opportunities may be hard to come by for Cahill.

Given that was the entire basis of his criticism of Sarri, it seems unlikely that Cahill would risk making the switch to Inter, given he would likely command a starting position at a number of English sides.

Let’

Mauro Icardi Swap Deal Rejected by Man Utd as They Demand €80m for Romelu Lukaku

Manchester United have rejected Inter’s offer of striker Mauro Icardi in a swap deal for Romelu Lukaku, as speculation continues to grow over the Belgian’s possible departure to Serie A.

After Lukaku confessed his admiration for Inter manager Antonio Conte and his desire to play in Italy, United dug their heels in, reportedly demanding €80m cash and nothing less.

Conte quickly identified Lukaku as his primary target as he looked to plan for life without Icardi. His relationship with the club and its fans has deteriorated beyond repair over recent months and it seems certain that he will depart this summer. 

Romelu Lukaku

United’s valuation of the Belgian striker has been a stumbling block and several players have been mooted as part of a cash plus player deal. Defender Milan Skriniar was suggested by officials in Manchester, but Inter had no interest in letting a key player go.

Now Inter have offered Icardi, who has hit 111 goals in 188 matches for the Nerazzuri, in an attempt to reach an agreement. However ​Gazzetta Dello Sport are reporting that United have outright rejected this offer, demanding that Inter pay the asking price if they want their man.

With PSG also reportedly monitoring the situation it will be interesting to see if United’s position changes. On the face of it cash plus a world-class replacement for a player who wants to leave is a good deal for United. However a player with Icardi’s attitude will do nothing to improve the dressing room atmosphere at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to re-build his side.

Let’