4 Reasons Why Football Transfers Are So Expensive

Last updated on June 30th, 2022

Right from time, acquiring the services of the best players has been an expensive business. French legend Zinedine Zidane cost around €77 million, a world-record fee at the time when he joined Real Madrid from Juventus in 2001.

The same club broke the record eight years later when they signed Cristiano Ronaldo for £80 million, an outrageous fee at the time.

Both of these players were already Ballon d’Or winners and established superstars at the time of their transfers.

In recent years, clubs have sold their players for outrageous fees regularly. For example, in June 2022, Liverpool announced their acquisition of 22-year-old Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez from SL Benfica for a fee that could reach €100 million. Days before that, Real Madrid signed French youngster Aurelien Tchouameni from AS Monaco, also for a €100m fee. 

What you may find baffling is that both of these players can hardly be described as superstars!

At best, they are players with bright futures ahead of them.

Under normal circumstances, these players should not cost that much in the transfer market, but some factors have caused a surprising increase in the prices of players. 

Here’s what you need to know about the high cost of football transfers.

Why are football transfers so expensive?

Football transfers can be expensive for a number of different reasons, some of which are not within the control of the clubs or players involved. Here are some of the reasons for the expensive nature of football transfers.

#1 Inflation

Over the years, the world economy has undergone different inflation stages. This factor is beyond the control of football clubs and their players. The effect has also been felt in football as clubs generate much money, making other clubs quote high sums for their players. 

This is done with the knowledge that the clubs that intend to buy these players are capable of pulling off the purchase at the amount. As a result, players like Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Joao Felix, and a number of others have moved for over €100 million.

Meanwhile, these players couldn’t really perform up to their price after they were signed for that amount.

Thanks to the inflated cost of players in today’s market, these players were signed for such an outrageous fee.

You can find out more about where the transfer money goes to here.

#2 Expertise 

Some managers and clubs in football today have specific ideas about their football, and they try to acquire players suitable to their beliefs.

Therefore, players who can fill specific roles are pursued. As a result, when the current clubs of such players learn about this, they try to make as much money off them as much as they can. 

This was evident in the transfer of Tchouameni, a midfielder of rare qualities, when AS Monaco slapped a hefty price tag on him.

Moreover, West Ham United valued their captain Declan Rice at around €150 million because of his qualities as an excellent defensive midfielder in the Premier League. 

Possibly the best example of this scenario was seen in Neymar’s transfer from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. The French club were looking to make a statement signing and made an approach to get the Brazilian superstar. Paris Saint-Germain paid a world record fee of €222 million to acquire the services of the forward at the time. 

#3 High demand for certain players

In the transfer market, clubs analyse major clubs’ weaknesses and put price tags on their players as a result. Then, when a club realises that another club urgently needs a player in a particular position, they ensure they make the most out of the transfer deal. 

In 2018, for example, Thibaut Courtois announced his wish to leave Chelsea merely weeks before the start of the 2018/19 season, leaving the club stranded without a goalkeeper. So the club dived into the transfer market and paid a £71.6 million release clause, a world-record fee, to get Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao as a result. 

As a result, Chelsea’s dire need for a goalkeeper led them to pay a hefty fee for Kepa.

Kepa’s time at Chelsea has been riddled with interesting issues, such as refusing to be substituted and missing the crucial penalty in the EFL Cup’s penalty shootout.

There are other examples where a player’s cost in the transfer market can be influenced when other clubs are in dire need of the player, but this one really stands out!

#4 Contract Status

The contract status of players plays a crucial role in determining their cost in the transfer market. For instance, a player with long years left in his contract with a club or who just signed a new contract would cost more than another whose contract is almost up. 

In the summer of 2022, Sadio Mane declared his desire to leave Liverpool, claiming that he would love to experience a new adventure.  As of that time, the Senegalese forward had a transfer valuation of €70 million, according to Transfermarkt.


However, a fee of around half of that may be enough to prise him away from Merseyside.

This is so because he has only 12 months left on his current contract at the club, and you can find out more about free agents here.

On the other hand, for Jack Grealish in 2021, it was a different case. The midfielder had signed a new five-year contract with Aston Villa only 12 months before moving to Manchester City for a British-record fee.

An unofficial reason for the inflated cost of transfers is simply due to Neymar’s transfer to PSG in 2017. Before the Brazilian completed his transfer, the transfer record was around 100 million.

However, the decision of the Qatari-backed French club to pay over double the previous transfer record had the ripple effect of making transfer dealings all the more expensive.

Why are English players so expensive?

It is an open secret that English players are more expensive than their peers from other countries. Harry Maguire is the most expensive defender in football history at £80 million, a fee Manchester United paid to acquire his services.

Meanwhile, Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool slightly less than that! 

There are several reasons behind the high cost of signing English players. Here are some of them:

Home-grown Quota

One of the rules in the Premier League is that all clubs in the league must have a minimum of eight home-grown players in a complete 25-man squad for the season. 

A home-grown player is one who has been at an English club for at least three years before his 21st birthday. This rule makes it necessary for clubs to seek out the best English players to complement their foreign stars and keep them competitive. 

You can find out more about home-grown players here.

As a result, English clubs are known to raise the prices of their players in the transfer market. This happens especially when clubs are on the lookout to the domestic league for home-grown talent.

Huge media exposure and coverage

The English Premier League is the most widely televised in the world, with numerous accredited media houses covering it weekly.

According to NBC, there was an average of 507,000 viewers per match window across its four channels in the just-concluded 2021/22 season. This level of exposure makes it easy for clubs to sell players at high prices based on the hype generated by the English media about the player.

An abundance of transfer funds to spend

English Premier League sides are unarguably the wealthiest clubs in the world based on the amounts of revenue these clubs generate regularly. One source of revenue generation for English clubs is TV rights sales, which pay each club handsomely every season.

As a result, after the addition of several other monies, clubs usually have a large war chest with which they can spend on the best English players regardless of their transfer fees.

Clubs’ rivalry

Many English clubs do not particularly enjoy doing business with one another due to their rivalries. So when they have no option but to transact business together, they ensure their rivals pay huge sums of money to sign their English stars. 

This is the standard practice among clubs in England, with the recent example in the case of Declan Rice.  His club, West Ham United, are unwilling to let him go to Chelsea, which seems to be his preferred destination.

To put off their fellow London club, West Ham quoted £150 million as the transfer fee for the midfielder, and it has worked well for them so far.

Reports also have it that Manchester United are after him, but thanks to the price tag, the Old Trafford side has kept their interest cool.


Football has gone beyond what it used to be. Thanks to several reasons, including inflation, TV rights, and the high demand for certain players, it has become more expensive to sign players!

You can find out more about some interesting things about transfers here, or view this list on which news outlets you can trust for transfer news.

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