With Manchester City recently breaking the transfer record in English footballer for a defender for the second and third time with the acquisitions of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, people are quite rightly discussing how massively inflated football transfer fees have become. As the richest league in the world, Premier League clubs are often victims of enormous price hikes on players, but some would say that City paying over £100 million for two full-backs is ridiculous. In fact, for that money, Pep Guardiola could have bought 47 of the 53 signings that have broken the transfer record throughout football history.
The Premier League had only been in existence for four years when the £10 million mark was broken with Newcastle United’s purchase of Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers. But prior to the rebranded top flight in England, world-class players could be snapped up for much less. Here we take a look at some of the players to have smashed the transfer record in the pre-Premier League era.
David Mills was the last player to be purchased by a club for less than £1 million. West Bromwich Albion bought the Englishman from Middlesbrough in 1979 for £516,000, but unfortunately, he never managed to replicate the prolific form he had enjoyed while playing in the northeast. The 65-year-old is still in the game, and works as the head scout for Leicester City. He will be looking to add more quality to the Foxes squad this summer, who at the time of writing are 200/1 long shots to win the top flight again. Leicester have rewarded people who bet on sports in the past, though, and will be hoping to do it again.
Going back further in history, Denis Law was the first player to cost over £100,000. The Scottish international signed for Manchester United from Torino for £115,000 and he turned out to be one of the greatest signings in the club’s history. Denis the Menace scored 171 league goals at Old Trafford over an eleven year period, and won the Ballon d’Or in 1964. He is the only Scottish player to ever claim the accolade.
You’d have to look back all the way to 1928 to find the first player that was signed for more than £10,000. Bolton Wanderers sold David Jack to Arsenal for £10,890, and prior to that, the record signing had been £6,500 for Bob Kelly in 1925. Jack went on to have a glittering career at Arsenal, where he is the club’s tenth-highest scorer of all time. The English international scored 113 goals in 181 league showings for the Gunners. He was also the first player to ever score at Wembley in the 1923 FA Cup final.
These record signings of yesteryear certainly put some of the big money deals of today to shame. Paul Pogba is now the most expensive player ever after Manchester United signed him for £89 million last year. He managed a paltry five goals for the club in his returning campaign.