Cristiano Ronaldo first became the subject of interest from Real Madrid in 2008 but Manchester United stood firm and the Spanish giants were not able to land their man until the following year.
He was worth the wait. Far from being burdened by his €94 million price-tag, the Portuguese quickly became the focal point of his new side’s attack, scoring 146 goals in his 135 Liga games to date and leading them to the 2011-12 Primera Division title.
Real Madrid have never been afraid to flex their financial muscle and when they signed Ronaldo in 2009, they were breaking their own record, which they set in 2001 when they lured Zinedine Zidane from Juventus for a hefty €75 million.
The French maestro soon went about turning himself into a Bernabeu legend, too, scoring a spectacular wiinner in the Champions League final of his first season against Bayer Leverkusen. He won La Liga a year later and ended his playing career in the Spanish capital in 2006.
Pep Guardiola’s first season at Barcelona may have been a resounding success, with the Camp Nou outfit scooping the treble, but they still felt the need to buy Inter star Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a deal estimated to be worth around €69 million.
And the first impression the Swede made in La Liga was resoundingly good, becoming the first Blaugranaman to score in his first four league ties. However, his influence soon waned and, after a bust-up with Guardiola, he returned to Serie A in 2010 after just one season in Catalunya.
Luis Figo’s move from Barcelona to Real Madrid was not only the most expensive one at the time, but arguably the most controversial ever. However, the capital club certainly will not have had any regrets over their €68 million outlay.
Within a few months of his arrival, he was awarded the 2000 Ballon d’Or, helped them to the 2000-01 Liga title in his first campaign and was a key member of the Champions League-winning team a year later.
In 2005, his time at the Bernabeu was up and he moved on to Inter, but he will always remain a Blancoslegend.
Cristiano Ronaldo was not the only big transfer in which Real Madrid were involved back in 2009. The Spanish giants also brought 2007 Ballon d’Or winner Kaka to the club for a whopping €65 million from AC Milan.
The Brazilian failed to live up to expectations, though. Injuries have hampered him during his four seasons at the Bernabeu and he has never really matched his star billing.
Mesut Ozil was signed a year later and took his first-team spot and while the 31-year-old has shown glimpses of his old self, Madrid will certainly be regretting spending so much on him.
Another striker who was the object of desire of several top Eurepoan clubs was Edinson Cavani. After three stellar seasons at Napoli, the time had come for the Uruguayan to move on to pastures new.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were vying for his signature, with PSG eventually winning the race for a fee worth €63 million. Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis, however, was quick to pass scorn on his club’s old hero, insisting that he is motivated by money.
Once the summer of 2012 came along, Porto star Hulk was linked with a big-money move to a host of clubs, most notably Chelsea, but when August 31 came and went without a transfer, it seemed he would be staying in Portugal for another year. However, the Russian transfer window was still open and Zenit St Petersburg spent €60 million on him in early September. It did not turn out the way they hoped, though. His reported wage soon caused rifts in Luciano Spalletti’s squad and Zenit lost their stranglehold on the Russian Premier League to arch-rivals CSKA Moscow.
Following his heroics for Atletico Madrid in the 2012-13 camapign, all of Europe’s top guns were eyeing a move for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid were all keenly linked with a move for the former Porto man, but in the end, newly-promoted Ligue 1 side Monaco, backed by the money of Russian fertiliser tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev blew them all out of the water with their ambitious project and near tax-free status, signing the 27-year-old for €60 million.
Fernando Torres’ move from Liverpool to Chelsea was meant to spark a revival in Carlo Ancelotti’s side’s defence of their Premier League title, but the Spaniard well and truly failed to live up to his hefty €58 million price tag.
After arriving on January transfer window deadline day in 211, it was not until late April that he scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory over West Ham. Since then, he has gone from goal drought to goal drought.
In his second campaign, he managed just 14 strikes, though in 2012-13 he did notch the opening goal in the Blues’ 2-1 Europa League final victory over Benfica, having enjoyed something of a renaissance under Rafa Benitez, the coach who first brought him to English football.
Every summer in recent memory has been greeted with a wave of speculation concerning the future of Neymar.
Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even Anzhi and West Ham have all been credited with an interest in luring him away from Santos at one point or another, but the Blaugrana eventually won the race for his signature in 2013, paying a stunning €57 million for him in early June.
His performances at the Confederations Cup this summer have shown just what he is capable of and fans of the Catalan giants will be looking forward to seeing their new star in action.