Cristiano Ronaldo snuck into Juventus while no one was looking. A textbook move from football’s most humble character.
In all seriousness, the timing of the World Cup meant Ronaldo’s move went slightly under the radar. This is, after all, a player Real Madrid broke the world transfer record for in 2009.
What does the future hold? That would be telling. But this is how one-time world transfer record holders got on at their next club.
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Denilson (broke the world transfer record in 1998)
Real Betis quickly realised they’d signed the world’s most expensive YouTube compilation when Denilson arrived from Sao Paulo.
Two years of underwhelming stepovers and the odd Gif-worthy nutmeg later he was loaned back to Brazil, joining Flamengo following Betis’ relegation to the Segunda Division.
That loan spell lasted 11 games, at which point Flamengo stopped paying. As wasting money goes, Betis breaking records to sign Denilson is up there with buying 2,000 chocolate teapots.
Christian Vieri (broke the world transfer record in 1999)
Vieri completed an Italian right of passage when he moved from Lazio to Inter Milan for an extortionate record fee in 1999.
After six years in the blue and black he crossed the San Siro to sign for AC Milan. Again, only to be expected from a notorious Italian goal-botherer.
That spell lasted eight league games, in which Vieri scored once. Empoli fans won’t forget that strike in a hurry.
Hernan Crespo (broke the world transfer record in 2000)
Lazio splurged all the money they’d received from Vieri’s deal on signing Crespo from Parma. These were lucrative days for Serie A clubs and the agents of slightly-above-average target men.
After two prolific years at Lazio Crespo moved to Inter, where he was expected to replace Ronaldo. In a sense he did exactly that, spending just as much time in the physio room as he did out on the pitch.
Seven goals in 18 league games was enough to convince Chelsea to snap him up so everyone was happy, aside from Roman Abramovich’s accountant.
Luis Figo (broke the world transfer record in 2000)
Figo’s acrimonious move from Barcelona to Real Madrid nearly collapsed on medical grounds due to the size of his plums and the thickness of his skin.
His next move was far more straightforward, with Inter Milan welcoming him to Serie A after five years at the Bernabeu. Sound familiar?
Despite edging towards the twilight years of his career Figo won four successive league titles at Inter, as well as three domestic cups.
Bodes well for Ronaldo’s move to the most dominant force Italian football has ever witnessed.
Kaka (broke the world transfer record in 2009)
Kaka was the meat in Madrid’s sandwich of five successive world-record transfers between 2000 and 2013 when he arrived from AC Milan.
Injuries meant the real Kaka never stood up, much to the disappointment of Florentino Perez’s wallet.
He moved back to Milan four years after leaving, although he was nowhere near the man who once made Patrice Evra kung-fu kick Gabriel Heinze in the face.
After one trophyless season in Milan he moved to Orlando City and MLS’ warm glow of impending retirement.