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How well did the world’s most expensive defenders cope with their price tag?

Chelsea's Alex Sandro looks set to break the world transfer record, but how did the previous record holders get on?

The art of defending is often overlooked when it comes to spending big.

After all, why splash out on a gnarled, grizzled defender when you can splurge on a flashy attacker or silky midfielder?

Over the past 20 years the world transfer record for defenders has only tumbled a few times. So what became of the money men?

(All transfer fees are provided by Transfermarkt)

Not one of the world’s most expensive defenders, but we’ll never pass up the opportunity to look at Titus Bramble playing against Barcelona

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Not one of the world’s most expensive defenders, but we’ll never pass up the opportunity to look at Titus Bramble playing against Barcelona

Taribo West (1997-1998)

What could €12million get you back in 1997?

A world record breaking amount of green hair, questionable defending and one of the best names in football, aka Taribo West.

The Nigerian international move from Auxerre to Inter, only to be on his way to cross-city rivals AC Milan after two seasons, for significantly less than they bought him for.

West’s agent deserves a massive rise. As does his agent

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West’s agent deserves a massive rise. As does his agent

Jaap Stam (1998-2001)

From one extreme to another. The green hair of West to the balding bonce of Jaap Stam, who cost Man United €17mil when he left PSV.

Most of Stam’s defensive battles were won as soon as the attackers lined up next to him in the tunnel.

But if that wasn’t enough to make them go weak at the knees with fear, their first on-pitch encounter with the Dutchman was normally enough.

The fact that one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s only regrets in football was selling Stam to Lazio is proof enough of his talent.

Try telling Stam you don’t rate half and half scarves

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Try telling Stam you don’t rate half and half scarves

Rio Ferdinand (2001)

Ferdinand was (briefly) the most expensive defender in the world when he left West Ham to join Leeds for €26m.

He formed a defensive partnership with Jonathan Woodgate, another man who’d be worth a record amount if he was playing today.

But Ferdinand’s debut didn’t got particularly smoothly.

Twenty-nine minutes into his first game for Leeds he found himself 3-0 down to Leicester, with Robbie Savage and Ade Akinbiyi both having scored. Nightmare.

29 was also the amount of minutes it took Ferdinand to concede three goals on his debut

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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29 was also the amount of minutes it took Ferdinand to concede three goals on his debut

Lilian Thuram (2001-2002)

Thuram’s €41.5m move from Parma to Juventus stopped Ferdinand’s record in its tracks- a feeling any striker who faced the Frenchman was only too familiar with.

His haul of two Serie A titles and two Supercoppa Italiana trophies is surprisingly low given the talent he possessed and was surrounded by.

Thuram left Juventus when they were relegated to Serie B, joining Barcelona and completing an immaculate footballing CV.

The €41million smile

Epa
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The €41million smile

Rio Ferdinand (2002-2014)

No one puts Rio in the corner.

Ferdinand overtook Thuram as the world’s most expensive defender just a year after losing his title when he joined Man United for €46m.

By the looks of it he spent his first pay check on a shiny new white suite. We don’t blame him.

Money well spent (both Rio and the suit)

News Group Newspapers Ltd
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Money well spent (both Rio and the suit)

David Luiz (2014-2016)

What do you do with a defender who can’t mark, tackle, head or keep any sort of composure, but has supreme ability on the ball?

You go out and make him the world’s most expensive defender, obviously.

PSG splashed €49.5m on David Luiz, only to sell him back to Chelsea for a surprisingly low loss after realising he really can’t defend that well.

The David Luiz school of defending

Reuters
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The David Luiz school of defending

John Stones (2016-present)

Is he the English version of David Luiz? Is he John Terry with the feet of a world-class playmaker?

The jury is still out on John Stones, following his €55.6m move from Everton to Man City.

One thing’s for certain, he’ll be a relieved man when Alex Sandro joins Chelsea and takes his title as the most expensive defender on the planet.

John’s just found out he’s playing with a left-back in the middle of defence again

Reuters
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John’s just found out he’s playing with a left-back in the middle of defence again