This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Germany.
This week, Juventus spent 90 million euros to sign Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli. Many fans are criticising the transfer – in part because of the rivalry between the two teams – but mostly because they could not believe that a team would pay so much for Higuain, who in previous years had been rumored to be headed to Arsenal for "only" 20-30 million . Nobody would claim Higuain is one of the three best players in the world, but the 90 million euro fee makes it the third highest transfer fee ever paid for a footballer.
People are always fascinated with comparing transfer fees. This even extends to the players themselves: even 94-million-man Cristiano Ronaldo was reportedly upset that Gareth Bale cost over 100 million euros. The problem with these comparisons is that every year players are more expensive and comparing them is not entirely possible. Luís Figo's 62 million euro transfer in 2000 smashed the record fee, only to be displaced a year later by the 75 million paid for Zinedine Zidane. 60-75 million euros now "only" gets you players such as Raheem Sterling (68 million) or Kevin De Bruyne (75 million) – talented players certainly, but not world-class like Zidane and Figo.
Reddit user "bolah" created an interesting table that makes the astronomical transfer fees comparable. He calculated the percentage of a player's transfer sum with a team's total revenue during that season. But he took the rumored transfer fees and compared them with the incomes listed in the Deloitte Football Money League. The result was that Zinedine Zidane was the true king of the transfer fees.
The table reveals that the wild years are behind us: the first four places on the list are all transfers from the turn of the millennium, the first time people began to complain about the astronomical prices paid for players. It was especially true in Serie A, which then was considered the top league in the world. The table shows that Zidane's fee accounted for 54 percent of Real Madrid's revenue, while Ronaldo, eight years later, commanded "just" 23.2 percent of their revenue. Higuain's transfer fee is only 27.79 percent of Juve's revenue.
Clearly, the Argentine striker was a bargain.