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Neymar surpasses Zidane, Ronaldo & Pogba - a history of the transfer record

With the addition of Neymar now official, Julien Laurens weighs in on whether or not PSG can win the Champions League.
Julien Laurens explains why Neymar's move to PSG is one of the biggest events in French football history.

Neymar is the world's most expensive player as he joins Paris Saint-Germain for £198 million. The Brazil international, 25, has found his way on to an illustrious list of players who have held the title down the years, from Diego Maradona to Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane to Cristiano Ronaldo. 

As Neymar gets used to life following his astronomical move, here's a look at the evolution of the modern world transfer record -- when the fees really started to get interesting...

1973 - Johan Cruyff: Ajax to Barcelona - £922,000

Johan Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

Luis Suarez's £152,000 move to Inter from Barcelona in 1961 saw him become the first player to cost more than £100,000 but the first to cost half a million was Dutch maestro Cruyff, whose influence and ethos is still felt at Barcelona over 40 years on from his move there.

1975 - Giuseppe Savoldi: Bologna to Napoli - £1.2m

Capped four times by Italy, Giuseppe Savoldi was the world's first £1m player.

Many think Trevor Francis was the first million pound player (although when he moved from Birmingham to Nottingham Forest in 1979, Brian Clough famously claimed the deal was £999,999 to avoid piling pressure on him) but in fact Savoldi holds the honour, following his move to Napoli in 1975.

1976 - Paolo Rossi: Juventus to Vicenza - £1.75m

Paolo Rossi won the Golden Boot as Italy won the World Cup in 1982.

Rossi scored 20 goals in 48 games for Italy and his six goals at the World Cup in Spain in 1982 has earned him legendary status among Azzurri fans.

1982 - Diego Maradona: Boca Juniors to Barcelona - £3m

Diego Maradona broke the world transfer record twice in two years.

He may be one of the greatest of all time and a two-time holder of the world's most expensive tag, but Maradona could not inspire Barcelona to league title glory during his two years in Catalonia.

1984 - Diego Maradona: Barcelona to Napoli - £5m

The Argentine maestro won Serie A twice in Italy.

With two Serie A titles, the UEFA Cup, Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia, Maradona became a legend in Naples and enjoyed his peak years before going to star for Argentina at the World Cup in 1986.

1987 - Ruud Gullit: PSV Eindhoven to Milan - £6m

Ruud Gullit became the latest big money mover, as Serie A continued to flex its financial muscles.

One of the finest players of his generation, Gullit's move to Milan in 1987 sparked a trophy glut that included three league titles and two European Cups.

1990 - Roberto Baggio: Fiorentina to Juventus - £8m

Roberto Baggio won the UEFA Cup and Serie A during his spell at Juve.

Perhaps unfairly remembered for missing the decisive penalty to hand Brazil the World Cup in 1994, Italy's Baggio was a huge success in Serie A, winning the league for two different clubs: Juventus and Milan.

1992 - Jean-Pierre Papin: Marseille to Milan - £10m

Jean-Pierre Papin moved to Milan the year after being named European Footballer of the Year.

Papin helped AC Milan to Serie A glory in 1994 but could not stop former club Marseille from triumphing over the Rossoneri in that year's Champions League final.

1992 - Gianluca Vialli: Sampdoria to Juventus  - £12m

Gianluca Vialli
Serie A's dominance of the market continued with Gianluca Vialli's move.

Vialli lifted the Champions League with Juventus following a 4-2 win over Ajax in 1996.

1992 - Gianluigi Lentini: Torino to Milan - £13m

Gianluigi Lentini survived a near fatal car crash to miraculously return to football.

Mercurial winger Lentini was known for his silky dribbling skills and he won three Serie A titles in his time at Milan. Cruelly, a car crash in 1993 robbed him of his speed and agility down the wing but he returned to playing and he made the bench for the 1994 Champions League final.

1996 - Ronaldo: PSV Eindhoven to Barcelona - £13.2m

The Brazil icon scored 47 goals in 49 games for Barcelona.

Ronaldo, then 20, was crowned World Player of the Year in 1996 -- the youngest recipient of the prestigious award. His season at Barcelona remains one of the most memorable of the past 20 years. His goal at Compostela in October '96 is one of his finest and the day after he scored it, AS ran a front page that simply read: "Pele Returns."

1996 - Alan Shearer: Blackburn to Newcastle - £15m

Alan Shearer turned down Manchester United to sign for his boyhood club.

Goal machine Shearer scored five at Euro 1996 to secure the Golden Boot and following his success at the tournament -- and huge interest from Manchester United -- he signed for hometown team Newcastle. His 260 Premier League goals remains a record.

1997 - Ronaldo: Barcelona to Inter - £19.5m

George Weah of Milan with Ronaldo of Inter
Ronaldo, right, regained the title of world's most expensive when he left La Liga for Serie A.

Il Fenomeno won the World Player of the Year award for a third time while at Inter Milan but his injury troubles meant he only picked up the UEFA Cup during his time there.

1998 - Denilson: Sao Paulo to Real Betis - £21.5m

Denilson's move to Spain was not the success Betis hoped it would be.

Denilson was relegated and then promoted during a topsy turvy spell in Spain and was also part of the Brazil squad that won the World Cup in 2002.

1999 - Christian Vieri: Lazio to Inter - £32.1m

The Italy striker scored over 100 goals in six years with Inter.

The Italy striker's time at Inter was largely one of frustration. Injuries denied Inter Milan fans a longstanding partnership between Vieri and Ronaldo, while a final day defeat to Lazio in 2002 wrecked their hopes of a first Serie A title since 1989.

2000 - Hernan Crespo: Parma to Lazio - £35.5m

Hernan Crespo was next, switching Parma for Lazio in 2000.

Crespo's highlight from his big move to Lazio arrived when he won the Supercoppa Italiana following a 4-3 win over Inter Milan but he was unable to fire his new side to glory in Serie A.

2000 - Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid - £37m

Possibly the most acrimonious move on this list, Figo ran a gauntlet of hate when he returned to the Camp Nou with Madrid.

It remains one of football's enduring images: a pig's head thrown at Figo as he took a corner for Madrid against former club Barcelona in 2002 during a bad tempered Clasico. Figo had the last laugh, though, winning the second of two La Liga titles with Madrid that season.

2001 - Zinedine Zidane: Juventus to Real Madrid - £46.6m

Zinedine Zidane
Money well spent as Zinedine Zidane has won the Champions League once as a player and twice as Madrid manager.

The best value for money signing in this list? Quite possibly. Zidane's stunning finish helped win Real Madrid the Champions League at Bayer Leverkusen's expense in 2002 and as a manager, he has led Madrid to the trophy two times in the last three seasons.

2009 - Cristiano Ronaldo: Man United to Real Madrid - £80m

A return to Manchester United has long been mooted for a player who scored 118 goals during his spell there.
After claiming he wouldn't even sell Real Madrid a virus, Sir Alex Ferguson eventually settled for a record fee.

Another player who could claim to be a bargain even at £80m. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or three times at Madrid to add to the one he claimed at United and is Real Madrid's all-time record scorer. 

2013 - Gareth Bale: Tottenham to Real Madrid - £86m

Gareth Bale has won the Champions League three times in his four seasons at Real Madrid
Gareth Bale usurped teammate Cristiano Ronaldo when he moved to the Bernabeu in 2013.

The Welsh winger has enjoyed a fine spell in Spain, winning the Champions League three times since moving from Tottenham.

2016 - Paul Pogba: Juventus to Man United - £89.3m

The Manchester United midfielder was the previous holder of the world's most expensive tag.

Pogba left Manchester United in 2012 for virtually nothing after Ferguson fell out with agent Mino Raiola but he returned for a record fee four years later, helping Jose Mourinho's men to the Europa League by scoring the first in a 2-0 win over Ajax in the final last season.

2017 - Neymar: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain - £198m

Neymar is now the most expensive footballer in the history of the game.

World football was rocked to its foundations on Thursday when Paris Saint-Germain announced the signing of Neymar from Barcelona. One part of the famed "MSN" decided to leave the Camp Nou in search of a new challenge in Ligue 1 -- a switch that banked Barcelona just shy of £200m, doubling the world record set by Pogba last summer.

Alex Shaw is General Editor at ESPN FC. Follow on Twitter: @AlexShawESPN.


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