The 10 most expensive centre midfielders of all time

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • Updated: 12 Feb 2024 13:38 GMT
  • 4 min read
Enzo Fernandez, Chelsea, 2023/24

Enzo Fernandez is the most expensive centre midfielder of all time, courtesy of his €121 million transfer from Benfica to Chelsea in January 2023.

The Argentina World Cup winner joined the Blues on Transfer Deadline Day after a month-long saga with Benfica following an impressive six months in Portugal.

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Fernandez was one of several big-money signings made by Chelsea during the 2022-23 season, although he couldn't prevent a 12th place finish during his first half-season at Stamford Bridge.

Declan Rice is the second most expensive central midfielder in history. The England international joined Arsenal for a fee of €116.6m from West Ham in the 2023 summer transfer window. He had helped the Hammers win the Europa Conference League during his final appearances for the club.

In third place is Moises Caicedo, thanks to his €116m transfer to Chelsea. The Ecuadorian midfielder was involved in a transfer tug-of-war between the Blues and Liverpool, with the west London club winning.

Caicedo's fee could reach €134m if certain add-on clauses are met.

Paul Pogba is the fourth most expensive centre midfielder of all time thanks to his 2016 transfer from Juventus back to Manchester United.

The Frenchman originally left Old Trafford to join the Italian giants on a free transfer in 2012, and re-signed for the Red Devils for €105m after four successful years in Turin.

Following six years back at Man Utd, Pogba once again left the club to join Juventus on a Bosman transfer in 2022.

Jude Bellingham is fifth on this list due to his €103m transfer to Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund in 2023. The England star was previously chased by both Manchester City and Liverpool, but Los Blancos won the race to sign him.

Jude Bellingham joined Real Madrid in 2023
© IMAGO - Jude Bellingham joined Real Madrid in 2023

Frenkie de Jong is the sixth most expensive centre midfielder in history; he cost Barcelona €86m when he joined from Ajax in 2019. The Blaugrana splashed the cash on the Dutchman after his pivotal role in Ajax’s run to the 2018/19 Champions League semi-finals.

Next up is Arthur Melo, who was involved in a swap deal with Miralem Pjanic in 2020. The Brazilian left Barcelona to join Juventus for €80.6m, while Pjanic moved the other way for €60m.

READ: The 10 most expensive goalkeepers of all time

READ: The 10 most expensive centre-backs of all time

READ: The 10 most expensive left-backs of all time

READ: The 10 most expensive right-backs of all time

READ: The 10 most expensive wingers of all time

READ: The 10 most expensive strikers of all time

The eighth most expensive centre midfielder of all time is Aurelien Tchouameni after his €80m transfer to Real Madrid in the 2022 summer window. The France international joined Los Blancos from AS Monaco after spending two-and-a-half years in the French principality.

In ninth place in the standings is another Real Madrid signing - Zinedine Zidane. The French legend was one of the first Galacticos to join Los Blancos in the early noughties, signing for €77.5m from Juventus in 2001.

Belgium international Kevin de Bruyne completes the top 10. He joined Manchester City from Bundesliga side Wolfsburg for €76m in 2015 after impressing in Germany after a disappointing spell at Chelsea.

The 10 most expensive centre midfielders of all time

1. Enzo FernandezBenfica to Chelsea€121m2022-23
2. Declan RiceWest Ham to Arsenal€116.6m2023-24
3. Moises CaicedoBrighton to Chelsea€116m2023-24
4. Paul PogbaJuventus to Manchester United€105m2016-17
5. Jude BellinghamDortmund to Real Madrid€103m2023-24
6. Frenkie de JongAjax to Barcelona€86m2019-20
7. Arthur MeloBarcelona to Juventus€80.6m2020-21
8. Aurelien TchouameniMonaco to Real Madrid€80m2022-23
9. Zinedine ZidaneJuventus to Real Madrid€77.5m2001-02
10. Kevin de BruyneWolfsburg to Manchester City€76m2015-16

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