Josko Gvardiol is the most expensive centre back in football history thanks to his €90 million move to Manchester City from Leipzig in the summer of 2023.
Gvardiol had emerged as arguably the best young defender on the planet in the previous year before his transfer.
He had been one of the stars at the 2022 World Cup as Croatia made it all the way to the semi-finals.
The Englishman impressed at the 2018 Russia World Cup and after a further season at the King Power Stadium, Man Utd were persuaded to make Maguire the most expensive defender of all time. He started well at Man Utd but soon turned into a figure of fun with some disastrous performances.
Earlier in the same summer transfer window as Maguire’s big-money move to Man Utd, Matthijs de Ligt had previously become the most expensive centre-back of all time after leaving Ajax to join Juventus for €85.5m. The Dutchman was heavily sought after following his role in Ajax’s run to the 2018/19 Champions League semi-finals and chose to join Juventus amid interest from across Europe. He was underwhelming in three years in Turin.
De Ligt’s international team-mate Virgil van Dijk previously held the title of the world’s most expensive centre-back before the 2019 summer transfer window.
The former Celtic star left Southampton to sign for Liverpool during the 2018 January transfer window, signing for the Reds for a fee of €84.65m after impressing on the south coast. He proved to be one of Liverpool’s best defenders ever. He helped the Anfield-based side reach the Champions League final in his first six months at the club and thenw in the competition in 2019.
The 2022 summer transfer window saw Wesley Fofana move from Leicester City to Chelsea, costing the Stamford Bridge outfit €80.4m. This made him the fifth most expensive centre-back in football history. It means that Leicester have been the selling club for two of the five most expensive centre-backs ever. Fofana has struggled with injury at Chelsea so far.
In sixth place is Lucas Hernandez, who was sold by Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich for €80m. Although he can play at left-back, he is primarily a centre-back. Like Maguire and De Ligt, Hernandez also moved clubs for a large fee in 2019. He left Bayern for PSG in the summer of 2023 after a tough four years.
Ruben Dias is the seventh most expensive centre-back of all time. He joined Manchester City from Benfica for a fee of €71.6m. He developed into one of the best defenders in the world at City under Josep Guardiola.
The aforementioned De Ligt appears in the top 10 most expensive centre-backs of all time for a second time thanks to his €67m transfer from Juventus to Bayern Munich in 2022. However, just like at Juventus, De Ligt struggled at Bayern.
The 10 most expensive centre-backs of all time
|Leipzig to Man City
|Leicester to Manchester United
|Matthijs de Ligt
|Ajax to Juventus
|Virgil van Dijk
|Southampton to Liverpool
|Leicester to Chelsea
|Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich
|Benfica to Manchester City
|Matthijs de Ligt
|Juventus to Bayern Munich
|Athletic Club to Manchester City
|Brighton to Arsenal