Upon activating Neymar’s staggering €222 million release clause in 2017, Paris Saint-Germain forever changed the world of football.
Neymar, who was seemingly destined to take the mantle from Lionel Messi at Barcelona, instead became the most expensive transfer in football history.
The transfer proved that no sum was big enough for a rich and ambitious club looking to make a marquee signing.
Since Neymar’s record-setting move five seasons back, quite a few 100 million-plus transfers have taken place. The frequency of such big-money deals is also likely to increase in the coming days.
Clubs are prepared to splurge ludicrous amounts on generational footballers and it is unlikely to be long before some of the century’s most sought-after players start finding new homes.
Below, we will take a look at five young superstars who have proved their mettle in the biggest competitions.
Here are five players that could potentially go on to break Neymar’s €222 million transfer record in the future.
5. Phil Foden – Manchester City
Manchester City’s Phil Foden is one of the most versatile players in Europe. The England international, who has risen through City’s academy, excels as a central midfielder.
He has also shown promise as a left-sided midfielder and a centre-forward in a false 9 system.
Foden, 22, is quick, works hard when not in possession, knows how to knock the ball around with ease, and can pop up with important goal involvements.
Since being promoted to the senior team under Pep Guardiola in 2017, the Englishman has featured in 169 games across competitions for the club, recording 45 goals and 33 assists.
Foden, who could one day break Neymar’s transfer record, is currently valued at €90 million by Transfermarkt.
4. Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid
Neymar’s compatriot and Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior enjoyed his best-ever campaign in the 2021-22 season.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, the 21-year-old improved his decision-making in the final third, emerging as the second-most important player in the team behind Karim Benzema.
He blinded the opposition with his electric pace, dazzled with his footwork, and pierced defenses with his world-class touches, passes, and goals.
Vinicius ended the 2021-22 campaign with 22 goals and 20 assists in 52 games across competitions, helping Los Blancos to Champions League and La Liga glory.
His most memorable contribution came in the Champions League final against Liverpool, with him scoring the winner against the Reds in the 59th minute.
Vinicius, who is currently valued at a whopping €100 million by Transfermarkt, sees his contract expire in 2024.
Being one of the team’s best players, the left-winger is set to receive an improved contract, which would reportedly contain a €1 billion release clause.
3. Pedri – Barcelona
Barcelona ace Pedri is widely hailed as one of the most talented central midfielders in the world right now.
Valued at €80 million by Transfermarkt, Pedri brings the perfect concoction of poise and explosiveness to the Blaugrana.
The Spaniard is an excellent dribbler, rarely misplaces passes, and has a knack for popping up with important goals.
The 19-year-old has outshone all his senior teammates at Barcelona over the last couple of years and seems destined for great things.
Pedri, who was adjusged as the ‘Best Young Player’ at Euro 2020, has featured in 74 games for Barcelona across competitions, recording nine goals and seven assists.
The youngster also has 12 senior team appearances for Spain. He is yet to score for La Roja but has provided an assist.
His current contract with the Blaugrana runs out in June 2026.
2. Erling Haaland – Manchester City
Following a successful spell with RB Salzburg, Erling Haaland joined Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in the winter of 2020.
The Bavrians were prompt to thrust him into the starting XI, and it paid off wonderfully. Haaland featured in 15 Bundesliga games in his debut season, recording 13 goals and 3 assists.
He scored twice in two Champions League appearances and added another in a German Cup outing.
Over the next couple of seasons, Haaland took part in 71 games for BVB across competitions, recording 70 goals and 20 assists.
His blistering spell at Dortmund caught the attention of several top clubs, but Manchester City managed to lap him up after activating his €60 million clause.
Haaland is currently rated at €150 million by Transfermarkt and has a five-year contract with his new employers.
1. Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is most likely to break Neymar’s €222 million transfer record in the future.
The Frenchman, who joined PSG from Monaco in 2017, has been the Parisian club’s standout performer over the last five seasons.
Mbappe, who is valued at a whopping €160 million by Transfermarkt, has unimaginable pace, lightning-fast footwork, possesses excellent decision-making, and rarely fumbles his lines in front of goal.
Mbappe, 23, is widely hailed as one of the most complete forwards of his time.
Mbappe, who has scored 171 goals and provided 88 assists in 217 appearances for PSG across competitions, came close to breaking Neymar’s record last summer itself.
Real Madrid reportedly (via ESPN) offered PSG a whopping €200 million for his services, despite him having only a year remaining on his contract.
Les Parisiens turned them down, of course, which ultimately paid off, as they successfully managed to get him to sign a three-year extension.