The most expensive goalkeepers ever: Chelsea the only club to appear three times as De Gea clings on

Matt Stead
Robert Sanchez has left Brighton
Robert Sanchez has joined Chelsea

Chelsea are responsible for three of the 20 most expensive goalkeeper signings in history, with David de Gea clinging on at the very bottom of the list.


1) Kepa Arrizabalaga – £71.6m/€80m (Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea, August 2018)
Despite never coming close to convincing at Stamford Bridge, the world’s most expensive keeper has racked up over 100 Premier League appearances and more clean sheets than Antti Niemi, who is actually 51.


2) Alisson – £67m/€75m (Roma to Liverpool, July 2018)
“Chelsea were changing their manager and not playing in the Champions League. I’ve also always admired Liverpool’s history. This is a club with five European Cups in their trophy cabinet. I really wanted to be part of that history,” said Alisson of his decision to join the Reds instead of the Blues in summer 2018. Having won it all at Anfield, it’s difficult to argue he chose wrong.


3) Andre Onana – £43.9m/€51m (Inter to Man Utd, July 2023)
Twelve months after joining Inter from Ajax as a free agent, Champions League finalist Onana has reunited with Erik ten Hag as part of an Old Trafford revolution.


4) Thibaut Courtois – £35m/€38.8m (Chelsea to Real Madrid, August 2018)
The desire of Courtois to leave Chelsea set in motion three of the four most expensive goalkeeper transfers in history. After starring in the World Cup, the Belgian forced a move to Real Madrid through and has eight trophies to show for the subsequent five years. And now Man Utd want him to break the record.


5) Ederson – £34.7m/€40m (Benfica to Manchester City, June 2017)
Claudio Bravo gave it a go but that went so well he lost his place mid-season to Willy Caballero, so Pep Guardiola went out and placed all his eggs in the basket of an uncapped 23-year-old with 74 top-flight career appearances. As it turns out: fair call.


6) Gianluigi Buffon – £32.6m/€51.9m (Parma to Juventus, July 2001)
For almost 16 years, Buffon reigned as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper – and it took no little inflation and conversion nonsense to dethrone him. Juventus got their money’s worth in 22 trophies, a record number of Serie A clean sheets and a historic amount of Champions League bottling.


7) Jasper Cillessen – £31.4m/€35m (Barcelona to Valencia, June 2019)
Valencia finished fourth in the two seasons before spending a small fortune on a 30-year-old keeper who played five La Liga games in three years with Barcelona; Los Che came came 9th, 12th and 9th again before Cillessen left.


8=) Jordan Pickford – £30m/€34m (Sunderland to Everton, June 2017)
There was mild disbelief at the time and many remain unconvinced but Everton signed Jordan Pickford upon his relegation to the Championship with Sunderland and no individual has played a bigger role in ensuring the same fate has not befallen the Toffees since.


8=) Aaron Ramsdale – £30m/€35.5m (Sheffield United to Arsenal, August 2021)
Successive Premier League relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United did not deter Arsenal, who planned to bleed Ramsdale in slowly before realising he’s really rather good.


10) Alex Meret – £26.25m/€35m (Udinese to Napoli, July 2018)
A Coppa Italia winner’s medal, saving from Paulo Dybala in the final shootout, and a Scudetto after fighting back from a rotational role to become regular starter again – that’s not a bad return.


11) Manuel Neuer – £24.3m/€30m (Schalke to Bayern Munich, June 2011)
Bayern Munich supporters quite hilariously protested against the signing of Neuer over some daft grudge to do with Oliver Kahn. Eleven Bundesligas and a couple of Champions League might have won them over by now.


12) Francesco Toldo – £23.85m/€28.4m (Fiorentina to Inter, July 2001)
The prospect of following Buffon was reportedly one factor behind Toldo rejecting a move to Parma during the great Italian goalkeeper merry-go-round of 2001. I Gialloblu signed Sebastien Frey from Inter instead, leading Toldo straight into the arms of I Nerazzurri for the same fee Parma had previously agreed with Fiorentina, who replaced the outgoing Italy international with Arsenal champion and Liverpool legend Alex Manninger.


13) Neto – £23.3m/€26m (Valencia to Barcelona, June 2019)
As part of the bloated Cillessen deal, Barcelona received Neto in exchange as back-up for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.


14) Bernd Leno – £22.3m/€25m (Bayer Leverkusen to Arsenal, June 2018)
Arsenal signing a German goalkeeper evoked all sorts of beautiful memories but Leno was neither mad nor Invincible. He replaced Petr Cech before himself being phased out for Ramsdale, as the circle of life dictates.

Bernd Leno makes a save against Man Utd


15) Edouard Mendy – £22m/€24m (Rennes to Chelsea, September 2020)
He came, he saw, he looked genuinely brilliant at times, he won the Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award and Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season award all within a few months of each other, he had some contractual disagreements, he lost his place, he left for Saudi Arabia. What a whirlwind.


16) Pau Lopez – £21m/€23.5m (Real Betis to Roma, July 2019)
With not a single competitive appearance for Spurs in an all-fated 2016/17 loan under his arm, Lopez bounced back with a season at Real Betis impressive enough to catch the eye of Roma, who he left to join Marseille for about half of Roma’s initial outlay two and a half years later.


17) Robert Sanchez – £20m/€23m (Brighton to Chelsea, August 2023)
While not the signing Chelsea most desperately wanted from Brighton, they nevertheless did not return empty-handed from their protracted Moises Caicedo negotiations as Sanchez headed to Stamford Bridge to provide competition for the No.1 entry on this list.


18) Juan Musso – £19.4m/€20m (Udinese to Atalanta, July 2021)
A beacon of consistency in Serie A’s lower mid-table soon became a hub of reliability in the country’s upper goalkeeping echelons.


19) Emil Audero – £19.2m/€20m (Juventus to Sampdoria, February 2019)
One appearance for Juventus – the final game of the 2016/17 season – bled into a campaign on loan in Serie B with Venezia, then another temporary spell which Sampdoria made permanent as soon as they could, Samp not letting go of the 26-year-old since.


20) David de Gea – £18.9m/€21m (Atletico Madrid to Man Utd, June 2011)
A weedy 20-year-old became one of the world’s best before our very eyes but a man called upon for his heroics all too often over the past decade has stayed long enough to become a villain most want rid of.

READ MOREWorld’s most-expensive goalkeepers ranked with Alisson in top three