5 Most Valuable Free Transfers In Soccer History

    On Friday, May 10th, Kylian Mbappe officially announced his decision to leave Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the end of the 2023-24 campaign. He thanked everyone at PSG as well as the club’s supporters for sticking with him for seven long years while expressing his desire to start a new chapter away from France.

    According to all top journalists, the 25-year-old France international will sign for Real Madrid after becoming a free agent on June 30. Los Blancos are reportedly only delaying the announcement due to their upcoming UEFA Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1. When the deal goes through, it will become the most valuable free transfer in history, as Transfermarkt estimates Mbappe’s market value to be €180 million ($194.09 million).

    Keeping a pin on Mbappe’s switch to Real Madrid, let us check out the current record holder. Read on to check out the five most valuable free transfers and look at how they fared at their new clubs. Let’s begin!

    Data: Transfermarkt

    #5 Milan Skriniar (PSG): €50 million ($53.91 million)

    Milan Skriniar Has Won Ligue 1 In His Debut Season

    Last summer, PSG signed €50 million ($53.91 million)-rated Milan Skriniar as a free agent, shortly after he ran down his Inter Milan contract. According to sources, Real Madrid and Manchester City were also interested in the 29-year-old. But the Parisians’ offer was simply too good for the center-back to turn down.

    Skriniar featured regularly for the French champions until Matchday 17,  but an ankle injury threw a spanner in the works. He spent the following nine Ligue 1 matches on the bench, watching on as his team sealed the title with little effort. Skriniar has played 30 games for PSG in all competitions this season, scoring once.

    #4 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich): €50 million ($53.91 million)

    Robert Lewandowski In Action For Bayern Munich
    Robert Lewandowski Is Arguably The Greatest Striker In Bundesliga History

    One of the most lethal strikers of the 21st century, Robert Lewandowski joined Bayern Munich as a free agent in July 2024, immediately after running down his contract at Borussia Dortmund. The Polish striker was worth €50 million ($53.91 million) at the time.

    Lewandowski played the best game of his career during his eight-year stay in Bavaria. The Barcelona striker played 375 games for Bayern, scoring a staggering 344 times and providing 73 assists. His exploits helped Bayern to eight consecutive Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy, amongst other honors.

    #3 David Alaba (Real Madrid): €55 million ($59.31 million)

    Real Madrid Star David Alaba Joined As A Free Agent
    Real Madrid Star David Alaba Has Won The Champions League Thrice (2 Times With Bayern, 1 Time With Madrid)

    In the same summer that Sergio Ramos left as a free agent, Real Madrid signed David Alaba. The Austrian full-back, who had run down his Bayern Munich deal in June 2021, was valued at a staggering €55 million ($59.31 million).

    Alaba quickly established himself as an outright leader at the back and produced numerous memorable performances in his debut season, helping Real Madrid to a La Liga-UEFA Champions League double. Alaba started the 2023-24 campaign with the same vigor, but an ACL tear in December ruled him out of the season. The 31-year-old has played 102 games for Los Merengues in all competitions, bagging five goals and nine assists.

    #2 Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG): €60 million ($64.70 million)

    PSG Keeper Donnarumma Is One Of The Most Valuable Free Transfers Ever
    PSG Keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma Has Kept Only 39 Clean Sheets

    AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had long been on PSG’s wishlist, but the Serie A side were not willing to sell their man. The Parisians finally had their way in the summer of 2021, when Donnarumma became a free agent. According to Transfermarkt, Donnarumma was worth a cool €60 million ($64.70 million) at the time.

    Donnarumma, who continues to operate as PSG’s first-choice goalkeeper, has had his moments, but he has not been the ground-breaking signing many expected him to be. So far, he has played 113 games for PSG in all competitions, conceding 112 goals and keeping just 39 clean sheets.

    #1 Lionel Messi (PSG): €80 million ($86.26 million)

    Lionel Messi Is The Most Valuable Free Transfer
    Lionel Messi Scored Only 32 Times For PSG

    At the summit sits eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who was worth €80 million ($86.26 million) when he joined PSG as a free agent in the summer of 2021. Messi’s switch was also the strangest of the lot, as everyone expected Barcelona to extend their captain’s stay. However, due to their lackluster financial state, they failed to renew Messi’s contract.

    The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner had a mediocre spell at the Parc des Princes. He failed to step up to the plate against quality opponents and drew boos from PSG fans on a couple of occasions. Having scored 32 times and claimed 35 assists in 75 games for Les Parisiens, he joined Inter Miami in another free transfer in July 2023.

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