What are the most expensive women’s football transfers of all time? The 50 highest fees in history

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • Updated: 8 Mar 2024 07:33 GMT
  • 9 min read
Racheal Kundananji plays in an international friendly for Zambia against Germany, 2023

Racheal Kundananji is the most expensive female footballer ever thanks to a transfer from Madrid CFF to Bay FC, though the transfer fee the National Women's Soccer League franchise paid for the Zambia international pales in comparison with the cost of players in the male game.

Women's football has come on leaps and bounds over the past decade and female players have begun to receive huge recognition for their incredible talent.

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England's victory in the delayed 2021 Women's European Championships took the game to new levels, with the attendance at Wembley's final breaking the record for a Euros final for both the men's and women's game.

However, despite increases to the finances in the game, such as prize money for the Women's FA Cup, there is still a huge disparity in the wealth between men's and women's football.

There are plenty of male coaches in women's football, but there isn't a single full-time female coach in professional English men's football and spending on transfers highlights the huge gulf between male and female football across the world.

FootballTransfers list the most expensive transfers in women's football history.

What are the biggest women's soccer transfers of all time?

Neymar’s record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million is put into yet more perspective when comparing it to his female counterpart, Racheal Kundananji.

Kundananji left Madrid CFF to join Bay FC on 13 February, 2024 for €804,000, shattering the previous world record mark, which was set when Chelsea signed Mayra Ramirez a month previous.

The Blues shelled out €500,000 to sign her from Spanish side Levante in January 2024 after Sam Kerr suffered an ACL injury. The Colombian, who starred for her country at the 2023 World Cup, thus broke Keira Walsh's record, for whom Barcelona Femeni had spent €470,000 to acquire her services from Manchester City.

Keira Walsh joined Barcelona in 2022
© ProShots - Keira Walsh joined Barcelona in 2022

Barbra Banda then overtook both Ramirez and Walsh in March 2024, thanks to her €681,000 move to Orlando Pride.

Women’s football is experiencing a boom in popularity, but it’s still light years behind the men and that transfer fee highlights the gap. For example, according to FIFA, global spending in 2020 didn’t even hit €1 million across the women’s game. By comparison, €5.42 billion was spent during the same year in the men’s game.

While Kundananji tops the list, what other female players make up the top 50?

The 50 most expensive women's football transfers of all time

Who is the most expensive women's football transfer of all time?

Racheal Kundananji became the most expensive women's footballer of all time when Bay FC bought her in February 2024 for €804,000, shattering the previous highest mark, which had been set only a month before when Chelsea bought Mayra Ramirez for €500,000 from Levante.

Ramirez was signed off the back of an impressive 2023 World Cup and start to the Spanish domestic season, notching six goals in seven games for Levante before being poached by a Blues side desperate to bolster their attack following the ACL injury suffered by star striker Sam Kerr.

Prior to Ramirez's move, Keira Walsh was by quite some distance the world's most expensive women's player. In 2022, the England midfielder was keen to leave City with just one year remaining on her contract and interest from several top European clubs, including Chelsea and Barcelona.

Over the summer of 2022, several key members of Man City Women's squad left either through free transfers or retirement. Though women's football rarely draws big transfer fees, both Chelsea and Barcelona made Manchester City large offers for Walsh.

Having been inspired by Barcelona as a child, and having told by her father that she endeavoured to play for them, Walsh wanted to join the Spanish giants. Barcelona felt the need to bring in reinforcements after injury to star midfielder Alexia Putellas and made several offers for Walsh.

The last of Barcelona's bids was around £400,000 (up to €470,000 including bonuses), a world-record fee, and it was accepted shortly before the transfer deadline on 7 September 2022.

It was considerably higher than Barcelona's previous record signing of a female player, set when they purchased Mapi León for €50,000 in 2017. Walsh signed for Barcelona on a three-year deal, joining England team-mate Lucy Bronze at the club, who also moved from City to Barcelona in 2022.

Who is the most expensive women's goalkeeper of all time?

Phallon Tullis-Joyce (OL Reign to Man Utd, 2023) - €150k

American Phallon Tullis-Joyce is the most expensive goalkeeper in women's football history. She cost Man Utd €150,000 when they signed her from OL Reign on Transfer Deadline Day in 2023.

The record was previously held by Canadian shot-stopper Kailen Sheridan. San Diego Wave paid €115,000 to purchase her from Gotham in 2021.

Who is the most expensive women's defender of all time?

Sofie Svava (VfL Wolfsburg to Real Madrid, 2022) - €200k

Sofie Svava became the most expensive defender in women's football history when she swapped Wolfsburg for Real Madrid in 2022. It cost Los Blancos €200,000 to pluck her away from Germany.

Previously, the record was held by Becky Sauebrunn, courtesy of her €140k transfer from Utah Royals to Portland Thorns in 2020.

Who is the most expensive women's midfielder of all time?

Kiera Walsh (Man City to Barcelona, 2022) - €470k

Walsh is the third most expensive women's player of all time and as she plays in the middle of the park, so she is the most expensive midfielder in history.

Jill Roord's move from Wolfsburg to Man City is the second-most expensive transfer in women's football history and as a central midfielder too, she is the second most expensive women's footballer in that position ever.

Jill Roord joined Man City in 2023
© ProShots - Jill Roord joined Man City in 2023

Who is the most expensive women's forward of all time?

Rachael Kundananji (Madrid CFF to Bay FC, 2024) - €804k

As the world's most expensive women's player, Rachael Kundananji is also the most expensive forward of all time courtesy of her €804,000 move to Bay FC.

The deal came off the back of Kundananji scoring 33 goals in 43 Liga F games for Madrid. She signed a four-year deal with the National Women's Soccer League club.

What was the first world record fee for a women's footballer?

The former wife of Brazilian superstar Ronaldo Nazario, Milene Domingues, was signed by Rayo Vallecano for a world-record fee back in 2003, although much of their reasoning was simply for the potential economic gain the club could receive, rather than her ability on the pitch.

In fact, due to Spanish rules, Domingues was unable to actually play competitive games for the club. She could only feature in friendly matches.

She became famous long before her move to Spain, and at 14 years of age she joined Corinthians' women’s side in her homeland of Brazil. She began to perform half-time ball-juggling entertainment and three years later she set a new world record of 55,187 consecutive keepy-uppies, a feat that took over nine hours to complete.

After marrying Ronaldo and carrying their child, she decided to return to football and joined Italian side Fiamma Monza while Ronaldo was at Inter Milan.

However, when Ronaldo left Inter to join Real Madrid, Domingues followed suit in departing Italy. Her arrival in the country provided an opportunity to raise the profile of the women’s game by adding the wife of Ronaldo to their league.

Milene Domingues could only play friendly matches for Rayo Vallecano
© ProShots - Milene Domingues could only play friendly matches for Rayo Vallecano

She chose to join Rayo Vallecano and was paid a healthy reported annual wage of €36,000 (£23,000) to become the most well-paid female player in the country. In fact, she was one of very few women to be paid to play football.

However, she soon discovered she wouldn’t be able to play professionally for the club as only Spanish players were allowed to play in the women’s top division at the time.

Due to her desire to play, Domingues arranged to fly to her former club Fiamma Monza every weekend to ensure she was able to compete.

At the time she spoke of the issue, saying: “Football is my passion. I took three years out when I had Ronald and I missed it so much. It's something you can only do when you are young and I have to take advantage now Ronald doesn't need me so much.

“Also Italian football is more developed than Spanish women's football and the league here is much more competitive,” according to the Guardian. She became the face of women’s football due to her marriage with Ronaldo, ball-juggling record and her modelling.

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