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5 highest loan fees paid in football history

Many of the top footballers have played on loan in the 21st century
Many of the top footballers have played on loan in the 21st century

The transfer window always brings a lot of excitement to the football world. With a number of prospects joining and leaving clubs, the level of unpredictability is insanely high at times.

Signing a player is never easy, especially in the modern era where inflation is at its peak. It has only gotten more difficult post the Covid-19 pandemic phase as clubs are still recovering from its effects on their finances.

It is not feasible for every club around the world to generate the finances needed to sign a specific player. Sometimes, it is not wise to directly invest in a footballer if a high transfer price is set on him. There have been examples of players brought in for huge sums of money but failing to make any impact for the club. In such cases, a loan move proves to be the best and most convenient option.

Clubs, over the years, have signed players on loan to fill a specific position with a matching profile. They can decide to sign the player permanently or discontinue with them, depending upon the agreement done with the parent club.

Many loan moves, over the years, have been quite expensive. Here, we take a look at the highest fees paid for players signed on loan in the history of football.


#5 James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich - £11.7 million)

Real Madrid v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg
Real Madrid v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg

After his heroics in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Colombia, James Rodriguez had a number of suitors. He won the Golden Boot, scoring six goals and helping his country reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.

While there was a lot of interest in Rodriguez, Real Madrid's arrival on the scene meant that there was little chance for anyone to sign him.

In his first three seasons with Los Blancos, Rodriguez struggled with his form as he couldn't be at his creative best for the Spanish side. He was loaned out to Bayern Munich in the 2017-18 season for a period of two years.

🏟 67 Spiele⚽ 15 Tore💁‍♂️ 20 Assists🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 5 TitelDanke für zwei erfolgreiche Jahre, @jamesdrodriguez! 🙏youtube.com/watch?v=pMyhpp…

Reuniting with former manager Carlo Ancelotti, Rodriguez showed some improvement in his form. He scored 15 goals and registered 20 assists in 67 matches over two seasons for the German side.

Despite winning the Bundesliga twice and DFB-Pokal once, Bayern did not go ahead with the option to buy the Colombian at the end of his loan spell. The loan move cost the Bavarian club £11.7 million.


#4 Duvan Zapata (Atalanta - £12.6 million)

Atalanta BC v Bologna FC - Serie A
Atalanta BC v Bologna FC - Serie A

Another Colombian on the list is Duvan Zapata. He was signed by Napoli from Argentine club Estudiantes in 2013. He became quite familiar with Serie A after multiple loan spells at Udinese and Sampdoria.

Known for his goal-scoring abilities, Zapata signed on loan for Atalanta in the 2018-19 season for a period of two seasons. The Colombian striker did exceptionally well in his debut season. He scored 23 goals in Serie A, the second-most number of goals in the league that campaign.

🇨🇴 Duván Zapata has been on 🔥 in the 2020/21 #UCLWill @Atalanta_BC beat Madrid? https://t.co/cY204lu2Mp

Zapata's goal-scoring form continued next season as he went on to score 18 league goals in just 25 starts. Despite Atalanta having to pay £12.6 million for his loan move, it was all worth it given the Colombian's contributions in front of goal. The Serie A club signed Zapata on a permanent basis and since then, the 31-year-old has been a regular goal-scorer for them.


#3 Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham - £14.4 million)

Tottenham Hotspur v Royal Antwerp: Group J - UEFA Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur v Royal Antwerp: Group J - UEFA Europa League

After having an impressive season at Real Betis in the 2018-19 season, Giovani Lo Celso attracted the attention of some top European clubs. Tottenham Hotspur were one of them and were successful in signing him on loan for the following season.

During his season-long loan at Spurs, Lo Celso struggled with injuries but showed glimpses of how effective he can be in midfield. With his tenacity and passing abilities, the Argentine was impactful, which saw Tottenham make his move permanently for five more years.

One of the most bizarre goals you will ever see 🤣What a way for Giovani Lo Celso to open his account for Tottenham 😅https://t.co/JQPDKjtJjF

The loan move saw Spurs pay £14.4 million before the option to buy was activated. Lo Celso's form took a hit in the 2020-21 season and his injury issues kept him from finding a proper run in the team.

He was eventually loaned out to Villarreal in the 2022 winter transfer window. He did well for the Spanish club, helping them reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.


#2 Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid - £16.2 million)

RC Celta de Vigo v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga
RC Celta de Vigo v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga

Alvaro Morata has been blessed to play for some of the top European clubs in football. Having graduated through the ranks at Real Madrid, the Spaniard performed fabulously in the 2016-17 season. He scored 15 league goals in just 14 starts for the club.

The following season, Morata signed for Chelsea in a £60 million move. Unfortunately, the move didn't turn out that well for him, as he scored just 24 goals in 72 appearances across all competitions for the Blues.

In the winter of 2019, Morata joined Atletico Madrid on a loan move for a period of 18 months. The deal cost the Spanish side £16.2 million before the transfer was made permanent.


#1 Alvaro Morata (Juventus - £18 million)

Juventus v FC Internazionale - Coppa Italia Final
Juventus v FC Internazionale - Coppa Italia Final

Like at Real Madrid, Morata had two different spells at Juventus as well. He joined Atletico Madrid on loan in the 2019-20 season for a period of 18 months. Atletico then signed the Spanish striker permanently with the move taking effect in July 2020.

In his one and a half seasons with Atletico, Morata managed to score 22 times in 61 appearances across all competitions. His inconsistency in front of goal did not help manager Diego Simeone's cause.

Alvaro Morata will return to Atletico Madrid after his loan spell at Juventus which ends today, the Serie A club has announced. The Spanish international forward will leave Turin after the two clubs failed to come to an agreement that would have allowed him to extend his stay. https://t.co/G4YdRMjfwB

Morata's struggles saw him loaned out to Juventus in the summer of 2020 for his second spell with the Old Lady. He registered 20 goals and 12 assists in 44 matches that season.

The loan deal was for a year but the Serie A club went on to extend it for another year.

With 20 Serie A goals in 49 starts in his two seasons at Juventus, Morata had a decent spell with them but is back has returned to Atletico Madrid ahead of the 2022-23 season. His loan move cost Juventus £18 million, the highest for any player to date.

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Edited by Aditya Singh
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