The Most Expensive Defenders in Football

The Most Expensive Defenders in Football

We are ranking the most expensive defenders in football history.

Defense is the backbone of a team

In modern football, many teams have focused on acquiring expensive defenders to their ranks. While attackers mostly command the highest transfer fees, defenders are now making significant moves in the transfer market. A solid defense has always been the backbone of a team. With time, defenders are taking on added responsibilities as well.

Apart from protecting their goal, defenders are now required to be adept with the ball on their feet. A quality defensive player instantly improves the team, making modern managers spend more on them. Here, we rank the top five most expensive defenders in football history as of May 2024.

1. Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig to Manchester City)

most expensive defenders
Josko Gvardiol (Getty Images)

Gvardiol joined Manchester City from RB Leipzig for 90 million Euros in the summer of 2023. The Croat had an exceptional campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Vatreni reached the semi-finals of the competition. Gvardiol’s stock rose immensely and Pep Guardiola’s side splurged the cash to add the player to their ranks. He has since made 39 appearances for the Cityzens.

2. Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United)

most expensive defenders
Harry Maguire (Getty Images)

Manchester United bought Harry Maguire from Leicester City for 87 million Euros in 2019. Maguire is one of the most expensive defenders in football. The Englishman, however, has been through the ups and downs at Old Trafford. He faced severe criticism for his lackluster performances. Maguire was also stripped of captaincy at the start of the 2023-24 season.

However, he has since won the fans over with his jubilant performances this season. He has so far made 206 appearances for Manchester United since moving to Old Trafford.

3. Matthijs de Light (Ajax to Juventus)

most expensive defenders
Matthijs de Light (Getty Images)

Juventus spent a hefty 85.5 million Euros to sign Matthijs de Light from Ajax in 2019. The Dutch defender was a key player for the Ajax team and on the most expensive defenders list, which turned heads under Erik ten Hag. De Ligt also became an important player for Juventus, making 117 appearances for the Bianconeri, before eventually moving to Bayern Munich in 2022.

4. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool)

most expensive defenders
Virgil van Dijk (Getty Images)

Virgil van Dijk is often in the conversation of being the best defender in world football. Some even go to the extent of claiming that Van Dijk is the best defender in the history of the Premier League. While those are opinions, it’s hard to argue against the Dutchman’s tremendous quality. He is an elite in his role.

Van Dijk joined Liverpool in January 2018 for a reported 84.6 million Euros. The towering center-back has since made 268 appearances for the Merseysiders, helping them win the Premier League as well as the UEFA Champions League.

5. Wesley Fofana (Leicester City to Chelsea)

most expensive defenders
Wesley Fofana (Getty Images)

Since Todd Boehly and co. took over Chelsea‘s ownership, the Blues have often focused on buying the best young players in world football. They signed Wesley Fofana from Leicester City in 2022 for a massive 82.5 million Euros. Fofana, however, has had an injury-plagued career at Stamford Bridge so far.

He has suffered multiple fitness blows and has made only 20 appearances for the London club. Fofana is still very young and fans could see the best of the 23-year-old in the near future.


Who is the most expensive defender in football?

Harry Maguire is the most expensive defender in football.

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