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Josko Gvardiol signs for Manchester City: who are the most expensive defenders in history?

The Champions League holders have splashed the cash on a new centre-back ahead of the Premier League getting back underway.

The Champions League holders have splashed the cash on a new centre-back ahead of the Premier League getting back underway.

2022/23 Premier League and Champions League winners Manchester City arguably head into the new campaign in slightly worse shape in attack after the summer departures of Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez, but they have strengthened significantly in defence with the arrival of Josko Gvardiol.

That the Croatian centre-back will work under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad appears to be fate, with the 21-year-old nicknamed “Little Pep” by previous club and international teammates, simply due to the similarities between the pair’s surnames. “Gvardiol, what a beautiful surname he has,” joked “Big Pep” on Friday as he revealed the player was in Manchester for a medical.

How much have Manchester City paid for Gvardiol?

The deal for Gvardiol to move to the Premier League from RB Leipzig has now been confirmed, with City parting with a reported €90 million ($98.6 million), making the youngster the second most expensive defender in the history of the sport.

Croat “the best centre-back in the world”

Still, Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic presumably thinks the Sky Blues are getting good value for money, given his glowing praise for the central defender before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “Gvardiol is the best centre-back in the world. His maturity, the way he plays... He meets the requirements of a defender [Pep] Guardiola might be interested in. He is big, effective in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet.”

Who is the world’s most expensive defender?

Gvardiol will hope he fares rather better in the north-west of England than the man who still has the tag of the most costly defender in history: Harry Maguire. The England centre-back made the move from Leicester City to Manchester United for £80 million (circa $101.98 million) in 2019 but, after a solid debut season, has endured a torrid time at Old Trafford, losing his place in the team and the captaincy, making only eight Premier League starts in 2022/23. Rumours are the Red Devils are willing to offload the 30-year-old for £35 million (around $44.62 million), well under half what they paid for him.

Of the top 10 most expensive defenders of all time, you may not be surprised to hear that six were signed by English clubs. Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt appears twice on the list, with his stock having fallen slightly between his 2019 move to Juventus and his 2022 transfer to Bayern Munich.

10 most expensive defenders in history

While it can often be tricky to find exact fees, figures which were most widely reported at the time of the transfer have been used. As none were originally listed in US dollars, today’s exchange rate has been used as a general guide (exchange rates will have been different when the transfers were made, Gvardiol aside).

Harry MaguireLeicester CityManchester United2019$101.98m
Josko GvardiolRB LeipzigManchester City2023$98.6m
Virgil van DijkSouthamptonLiverpool2018$95.61m
Wesley FofanaLeicester CityChelsea2022$95.61m
Matthijs de LigtAjaxJuventus2019$94.28m
Lucas HernandezAtlético MadridBayern Munich2019$88.21m
Ruben DiasBenficaManchester City2020$78.95m
Achraf HakimiInterPSG2021$74.98m
Matthijs de LigtJuventusBayern Munich2022$73.88m
Marc CucurellaBrightonChelsea2022$72m

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