Statistical Analysis

Trophy Success Not Guaranteed by Transfer Record Signings

Thu, 25 August 2016, 22:34

Paul Pogba’s £89 million transfer to Manchester United this month saw the world transfer record smashed for the second time in three years, trumping Gareth Bale’s 2013 move to Real Madrid by just £3 million.

The Red Devils are now under immense pressure to ensure their latest star signing brings silverware back to Old Trafford, but the figures show trophies aren’t guaranteed to immediately follow record signings. has analysed trends set by the past 40-plus years of record signings, dating back to Johan Cruyff’s £922,000 switch to Barcelona from Ajax in 1973, with 19 players breaking the world transfer record since then, and two players—Diego Maradona and Ronaldo—surpassing it twice.

21st Century Transfer Record-Breakers

Record-Breaking Player (Season, Buying Club)

Won a Major Trophy Season After Record Transfer

Hernan Crespo (2000-01, Lazio)


Luis Figo (2000-01, Real Madrid)

Yes (La Liga)

Zinedine Zidane (2001-02, Real Madrid)

Yes (Champions League)

Kaka (2009-10, Real Madrid)


Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-10, Real Madrid)


Gareth Bale (2013-14, Real Madrid)

Yes (UCL, Copa del Rey)

It’s only in the last 20 years or so that transfer spending has leapt considerably across Europe, and seven players have taken the tag of “World’s Most Expensive Player” since 2000. Those stars are Hernan Crespo, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Pogba.

Entering the 21st century, Christian Vieri’s £32 million move from Lazio to Inter Milan in 1999 was the largest of any kind, but Pogba’s return to United is worth almost triple that.

Of the other six players to have beaten the transfer record since 2000, only three have won major trophies in their first season following said moves, with Crespo, Kaka and Real Madrid’s Ronaldo all missing out immediately after their moves.

Goal Success After Record Transfers

Goals Scored Season After Record Transfer

Number of Times Recorded

0 - 5


6 - 10


11 - 15


16 - 20


21 - 25


26 - 30


30 - 35




At a rate of 50%, those aren't exactly the kind of odds to tempt a manager into breaking the bank.

It’s also a trend among transfer-record breakers that players moving tend to be forwards and attack-minded midfielders, and goals tend to at least be one thing almost guaranteed.

Of the 18 transfer-record signings analysed since Cruyff in 1973—Giuseppe Savoldi (1975) and Gianluca Lentini (1992) weren’t counted in the analysis—all but two scored goals in the double digits during the season straight after their moves.

The remaining 16 each scored at least 10 goals in the campaigns following their record moves, equal to 88.8% of record signings.

Pogba isn’t the most attack-minded midfielder around, but the figures suggest the Frenchman therefore almost has a nine out of 10 chance of bagging at least 10 goals this season.

What’s more, 13 of those transferred players notched at least 16 goals—equal to 72%—while only three passed the 30-goal mark—equal to just 16.7%.

Wondering who those players were? Ronaldo scored 47 goals for Barcelona in 1996-97—the best season of his club career—before netting another 34 following his move to Inter Milan a year later, and namesake Cristiano Ronaldo also bagged a massive 33 goals for Real in 2009-10, albeit with no major trophies to show for it.


Statistical Analysis discovers hidden trends and values in major gambling events by deciphering both contemporary stats and historical data. We derive our probabilities from history, not just betting odds, so you don't have to.


Do you want your own football betting feed for free?

Personalize your feed by following more:
  • Teams
  • Leagues

Great choice! You'll now have the upper hand with all :name: best offers. Let's add some more preferences to tailor your Smartbets experience.

You are following :name: Let's add some more preferences to tailor your Smartbets experience.

Yes, I want my own feed

Already have an account? Log in
Smartbets is certified partner with . Betting via Smartbets is monitored by .
Log in to smartbets

Don't have an account? Sign up
Sign up to smartbets

By signing up, you agree to Smartbets Terms and conditions and Privacy Policy
Bet slip

Bet with your bookies at Smartbets.

Add a bet to get started.