The 10 most expensive Spanish footballers of all time

What is it with Chelsea and expensive Spaniards? What’s the tapas like in west London?

Now, this list may come across as a condemnation of the Blues’ transfer policy, but we promise you it’s not. Chelsea’s penchant for erroneously spending big money on Spanish folk is just a by-product of the top ten most expensive Spaniards of all time.

Did we mention that Chelsea dominate this list?

Juan Mata

Mata switched Chelsea for Man Utd / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Clearly the tapas wasn’t authentic enough for Mata around Stamford Bridge as he switched Chelsea for Man Utd midway through the 2013/14 campaign.

The archetypal #10 was a fully fledged Premier League star and a Champions League winner with the Blues, but he opted for a new challenge which eventually returned silverware after an underwhelming start.

Mata, then United’s record signing, spent eight years in Manchester and came ever so close to racking up 200 Premier League appearances with the Red Devils.

Parma v Lazio X

Mendieta was one of several lucrative signings made by Lazio during Sergio Cragnotti’s ownership / Grazia Neri/GettyImages

The Valencia maestro was one of numerous big-money signings made by Lazio during Sergio Cragnotti’s ownership.

Mendieta became the sixth most expensive player ever in 2002 when the arrived in the Eternal City, but his sole season at Lazio proved a disappointment. The Spaniard was outshone by the likes of Pavel Nedved and Juan Sebastian Veron and was loaned out for the next two seasons before joining Middlesbrough in 2004.

Now that’s a fall from grace.

Ferran Torres

Ferran returned to La Liga after a brief spell with Man City / Hiroki Watanabe/GettyImages

A transfer which came somewhat out of the blue.

Ferran was seemingly only at the start of his journey with Manchester City but the Citizens opted to cut his time in the Premier League short when Barcelona came calling and signed the versatile wide man for €55m.

City made a tidy profit on the Spaniard, who’s failed to cement himself as a regular starter in Catalonia.

Fernando Torres

A blockbuster signing / Scott Heavey/GettyImages

It’s not the first time we’ll question Chelsea’s recruitment on this list.

Torres at his very best was a force to be reckoned with, but that headband donning phenom who terrorised defences at the start of his Premier League career was no more by the time the Blues splurged €58.5m to sign him from Liverpool.

Sapped of pace and often low on confidence, Torres was not the striker Chelsea thought they were signing. Nevertheless, the Spaniard scored 45 times in 175 games for the Blues and produced one of the sport’s most iconic moments at Camp Nou during Chelsea’s journey to unthinkable Champions League glory in 2012.

Diego Costa

Costa returned to Atletico after falling out with Antonio Conte at Chelsea / Power Sport Images/GettyImages

Costa was nothing short of a menace during his Chelsea pomp and was the club’s leading man (Eden Hazard aside) in two Premier League title triumphs.

Antonio Conte initially got the very best out of the tempestuous forward during his first season at the helm, but their combustible relationship unsurprisingly culminated in a divorce.

A delayed transfer meant Costa eventually returned to Atletico for €60m in January 2018.

READ MORE FROM THE 90MIN TALKING TRANSFERS TEAM

Aymeric Laporte

Laporte was a key player for City during multiple title wins / Michael Steele/GettyImages

The Basque Country tax. City were forced to pay a whopping €65m to sign Laporte from Athletic Club in 2018.

However, the club’s hefty investment proved shrewd as Laporte quickly settled in Manchester and proved a crucial addition to Pep’s project.

His ball-playing capacity elevated City’s build-up and helped them to multiple league titles, although his prominence at the Etihad waned during their treble-winning 2022/23 campaign.

Marc Cucurella

Cucurella enjoyed a tough first season at Chelsea / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

Cucurella has come a long way from being Jose Borderlas’ Duracell bunny down Getafe’s left flank.

Brighton proved to be the perfect destination for the spritely Spaniard, who rapidly evolved into a full-back coveted by City and Chelsea. The Blues won the bidding war, paying a eye-watering €65.3m to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

While Cucurella had impressed on the south coast, almost everybody believed Chelsea had overpaid the odds and those doubts were vindicated as the versatile defender endured a tough debut season.

Antonio Conte

Chelsea pivoted to Morata after missing out on Romelu Lukaku / Power Sport Images/GettyImages

While Conte insisted Morata was a man you’d like your daughter to marry, the Italian wasn’t particularly pleased that the Spaniard ended up as his leading man following Diego Costa’s exit.

Conte was desperate for Romelu Lukaku, but the Blues missed out as United acquired the Belgian.

Morata was regarded as a fine alternative nonetheless and his maiden season at the club was pretty impressive. However, the Spaniard’s form quickly fell off a cliff and he struggled to regain any sort of confidence once self-doubt started to arise.

Rodri

Rodri was signed to eventually succeed Fernandinho at the base of City’s midfield / Nicolò Campo/GettyImages

City were proactive in their search for Fernandinho’s successor, acquiring a midfielder more out of the Pep Guardiola mould.

The Citizens signed Rodri from Atletico Madrid for €70m in 2020 and the Spaniard quickly grew into one of Pep’s lynchpins.

Rodri has long been regarded as one of the very best in his position and his excellent 2022/23 campaign concluded with the winner in the Champions League final.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Chelsea spent a huge amount to sign Kepa / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Remember that pesky Basque Country tax.

Chelsea not only made Kepa the most expensive Spaniard ever when they signed him from Athletic Club in 2018, but he also became the most expensive goalkeeper ever.

The mammoth fee meant it was always going to be hard for Kepa to live up to expectations and he’s endured some really tough spells in west London. For a while it seemed as if his Premier League career was up, but a recent resurgence saw him reclaim his number one status from Edouard Mendy.

A decent enough keeper who was never worth the monster sum paid by the Blues.

Rank

Player

Joined

Fee

1.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Chelsea

€80m

2.

Rodri

Man City

€70m

3.

Alvaro Morata

Chelsea

€66m

4.

Marc Cucurella

Chelsea

€65.3m

5.

Aymeric Laporte

Man City

€65m

6.

Diego Costa

Atletico Madrid

€60m

7.

Fernando Torres

Chelsea

€58.5m

8.

Ferran Torres

Barcelona

€55m

9.

Gaizka Mendieta

Lazio

€48m

10.

Juan Mata

Man Utd

€44.73m

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