This summer has already seen numerous big-money, high-impact deals made across Europe, and more may be on the way with four days remaining in the Premier League signings window and a further three weeks of the European window still to come.
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus, Naby Keita’s prearranged arrival at Liverpool from RB Leipzig, and the Reds’ acquisition of Roma goalkeeper Alisson have all posted high on the list of the most expensive transfers of all time, although Neymar’s £199-million switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain remains the overall benchmark.
But how could a team made up of the costliest signings ever be assembled? Here, theScore looks at four potential starting XIs.
(All transfer fees equated to pounds sterling, courtesy transfermarkt.com)
Alisson is the most expensive goalkeeper ever at over £56 million, while the priciest four-man defense comprises three Manchester City players and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman’s reported £71-million price tag stands above those of his defensive comrades, with Aymeric Laporte at £58.5 million, Benjamin Mendy at £51.8 million, and Kyle Walker at £47.5 million.
In midfield, Manchester United’s £94.5-million record signing Paul Pogba partners £54-million man Keita in the engine room, while Kevin De Bruyne, these days looking a comparative bargain at £68.4 million, is given license to venture forward and support the phenomenal attacking trident of Neymar, £121.5-million PSG phenom Kylian Mbappe, and Ronaldo (£105 million).
As far as back-four options go, this looks perhaps the most balanced XI. Walker and Mendy have endless energy down the flanks, Pogba and Keita are a hugely imposing pairing in central midfield, while De Bruyne is the link between that duo and the peerless attacking line.
Alternatively, this team could set up well to play with three at the back. In comes another City defender in John Stones, whose move from Everton two years ago has cost the Etihad side a total of £50 million in transfer fees and bonuses. Stones has thrived in a similar defensive setup under Pep Guardiola and provided further such proof for Gareth Southgate’s England at the World Cup this summer.
Mendy and Walker are perfectly suited to wing-back roles, and such an accomplished three-man central defense facilitates the luxury of playing with just Pogba and De Bruyne in central midfield. Keita makes way to allow for the change of system, but this may necessitate more defensive diligence from KDB.
This one’s a FIFA player’s dream. Such an abundance of attacking talent to call upon has seen Barca’s £122-million man Philippe Coutinho consigned to the bench here thus far, but if this side was looking to overwhelm opposing defenses, the Brazilian could be brought in to play with De Bruyne behind the front-three. The former Liverpool star’s performances for his country in Russia this summer suggested he can rival Neymar to be the Selecao’s main man.
Of course, the issue here, even more so than in the above 3-4-3, is that Pogba is left alone to patrol the midfield and turn possession over from a deeper role, although the Frenchman is arguably one of the best in the world at doing just that. How well this XI would work in fictional practicality is questionable, but just look at that front-five.
A fourth option sees two alternative attacking players come in. Coutinho and Mbappe drop to the bench and are replaced by the former’s Blaugrana teammate Ousmane Dembele and new AC Milan signing Gonzalo Higuain. France international Dembele cost a cool £103.5 million when he joined from Borussia Dortmund last summer, but was limited by injuries to just 23 appearances in all competitions. Barca reportedly opted to sign Dembele instead of pursuing a deal for Mbappe, and the two players are in a similar vein.
Meanwhile, Higuain offers a classic No. 9 option alongside Ronaldo in attack. The Argentina striker cost Juventus a total of £81 million in his move from Napoli two years ago and scored 55 goals in 105 games for the Bianconeri. His notorious physical presence is a valuable addition to this team in front of Dembele and Neymar, contributing bruising brawn to the lightning pace and technical brilliance already present in the front line. Pogba and Keita can simply sit and allow the front-four to do the attacking work.