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Who were the biggest transfers of every season in the last 20 years?

Transfer fees seem to have gone through the roof over the last couple of seasons, but what were the biggest transfers of the last 20 years?

We don’t want to come over all ‘back in my day’ on you, but transfer fees seem to have gone through the roof recently.

A player with less than ten international caps to his name and a handful of goals in a lesser league is suddenly worth £40million.

But are we just looking with rose tinted glasses? How do the biggest transfers of every season since 1997/98 compare to the current market climate?

Funny you ask.

Season-by-season transfers

Season-by-season transfers

To see the graphic in higher resolution, click here.

We start in the 1997/98 season.

Ronaldo, who’d seen his world record transfer broken by Alan Shearer the year before, broke back when he moved from Barcelona to Inter Milan in a €28million deal.

Despite joining during Inter’s very own galactico era Ronaldo only ended up winning one trophy during his time at the Nerazzurri.

The most expensive transfer of the 1998/99 season was Denilson, who stepover’d his way from Sao Paulo to Real Betis for a record breaking €31.5mil deal that nearly bankrupted the club.

Denilson means ‘waste of money’ in Portuguese

Denilson means ‘waste of money’ in Portuguese

Next came Christian Vieri. After scoring 12 goals in 22 Serie A outings for Lazio Inter Milan saw fit to splurge €43mil on the striker, another world record.

Luis Figo broke the world record for a sixth consecutive year in moving from Barcelona to Real Madrid for €60m an a pig’s head.

Zinedine Zidane broke Figo’s record and joined him at the Bernabeu the following season, leaving Juventus for €73.5m.

And so the record stood for the next eight years.

In the meantime Rio Ferdinand joined Man United from Leeds for €46m, with Sir Alex Ferguson recouping most of that money by selling David Beckham to Real Madrid for €37.5m the following season.

The real Spice Boys

AP:Associated Press
The real Spice Boys

The 2004/05 season saw Chelsea sitting down at the big boys’ table for the first time.

For three consecutive seasons Chelsea had the biggest transfer in world football, the first of which was Didier Drogba’s €38.5m deal from Marseille.

Ligue 1 was raided once again when Jose Mourinho convinced Michael Essien to leave Lyon for the King’s Road in a €38m move.

Andriy Shevchenko’s €43m transfer from AC Milan ahead of the 2006/07 season completed a hat-trick for The Blues.

Shevchenko, always the prankster, signed for Chelsea dressed as a priest

PA:Press Association
Shevchenko, always the prankster, signed for Chelsea dressed as a priest

Then it was Liverpool’s turn.

It took €38m to convince Atletico Madrid to part with Fernando Torres, in what turned out to be a marriage made in heaven.

Ten years after Denilson’s world transfer record it was the turn of another Brazilian to hog the limelight, with Robinho’s €34m move from Madrid to Man City announcing The Citizen’s intentions.

Remember Zidane’s transfer record?

Ahead of the 2009/10 season it finally crumbled. Kaka moved from Milan to Madrid, only to be instantly usurped by Cristiano Ronaldo’s €94m transfer from United.

Ronaldo wearing no.9? What is this madness?

Ronaldo wearing no.9? What is this madness?

Torres made another splash in the transfer market when he joined Chelsea for €59m during the 2010/11 season, although The Blues would have been forgiven for thinking they’d signed his twin brother.

Ahead of the 2011/12 season another superpower emerged, swaggering out of Paris.

PSG signed Javier Pastore from Palermo for €42m before buying Thiago Silva from Milan for €42m the following season.

But not even PSG could compete with Madrid when they made Gareth Bale the most expensive player in the world ahead of the 2013/14 season and broke Spurs hearts with a €101m deal.

Liverpool fans were similarly glum when Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, costing €82m, in the biggest deal of the 2014/15 season.

The most tin point transfer announcement goes to…

The most tin point transfer announcement goes to…

Kevin De Bruyne, who Chelsea had allowed to join Wolfsburg only to see him blossom into one of Europe’s best playmakers, joined City for €74m prior to the 2015/16 season.

Then came the most expensive case of deja vu in footballing history.

United, who had allowed Paul Pogba to leave for Juventus on a free transfer, paid a world record €105m to bring the Frenchman back to Old Trafford.

That’s why you’ve always got to keep the receipts.

So there you have it. The most expensive transfers in each of the last 20 seasons. The big question now is, who’ll be next?

(All transfer fees provided by transfermarkt)