Exactly a week has passed since Mikhail Mudrik moved to London Chelsea for huge money. The English club officially paid 70 million euros, excluding bonuses, setting a record value among the players of the former USSR. In this regard, I decided to recall the 20 most expensive deals involving football players from the post-Soviet space, excluding the transfer of a Ukrainian.
20. Kakhaber Kaladze (Georgia), Dynamo Kyiv ———> Milan €16 million (2001)
Our top football icon of Georgian football Kakhaber Kaladze opens our top. The Georgian defender brilliantly played for Dynamo Kiev and reached the memorable Champions League semi-final in 1999 with the capital club. The people of Kiev, under the leadership of the great Lobanovsky, lost to Bayern in a difficult two-legged confrontation with a total score of 4-3. After such a performance, many players of that Dynamo went to conquer Europe, including the Georgian defender. “Milan” huge money for those times – 16 million, but did not lose. Kakha spent almost 10 years with the Rossoneri, becoming the champion of Italy and winning two Champions Leagues.
19. Andrey Arshavin (Russia), Zenit ———> Arsenal €16.5m (2009)
Second in line in the list of top transfers, the best Russian player in the opinion of the majority of fans is Andrey Arshavin. Andrey’s transfer does not need detailed coverage. Everyone remembers the great year 2008, when Arshavin, together with Zenit, won the UEFA Cup and Super Cup, and with the Russian team reached bronze medals at the Euro. According to the results of voting for the Golden Ball in the same year, Arshavin entered the top 6 nominees (the best result for Russians).
At that moment, Arshavin realized that he needed to use his chance here and now and got excited about the idea of leaving for the top European championship. According to rumors, Barca and Tottenham were actively interested in Arshavin, but the London Arsenal soon became the main contender. The negotiations were very difficult and strained, but soon agreed on an amount of 16.5 million euros. Andrey moved to London on the last day of the transfer window, and after a couple of months we saw the legendary poker for Liverpool.
18. Alexander Gleb (Belarus), Arsenal ———> Barcelona 17 million € (2008)
4 years before Arshavin, another representative of the former USSR arrived at Arsenal – Belarusian Alexander Gleb. By that time, the Belarusian midfielder had quite successfully played 4 seasons in the German Bundesliga and Arsene Wenger wanted to see Gleb in his team. Arsenal then paid one and a half million less than for Arshavin, but after 3 years a delegation from Catalonia arrived for Gleb.
Barcelona paid 17 million euros for one of the leaders of that Arsenal, and Alexander, by his own admission, made the main mistake of his career. In the very first season, Gleb won all possible trophies with Barça, including the Champions League, but was injured and failed to become a base player, sitting tightly on the bench. Loan trips began, including to the already familiar Stuttgart, but they could not save the situation either. In 2012, the Belarusian moved to Wings of the Soviets and did not play in the top championships again.
17. Roman Yaremchuk (Ukraine), Gent ———> Benfica €17m (2021)
Roman Yaremchuk is a vivid example of how moving to the middle European championship can become a springboard in building a professional career. Not wanting to wait long for his chance at Dynamo Kiev, the Ukrainian striker moved to the Belgian Gent, where he spent 4 good seasons.
In the 20/21 season, Yaremchuk scored 17 goals in the championship and played well at the Euro as part of the national team, for which he received a well-deserved promotion. Benfica laid out 17 million for the forward, but failed to become the main player in Portugal. After spending the season as a substitute, the Ukrainian returned to Belgium this summer, but already in the Brugge squad – the sworn enemies of Gent, for which he received a dose of hatred from the fans of the former club. By the way, Club Brugge paid only a million less for Yaremchuk than Benfica itself a year earlier.
16. Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Spartak ———> Tottenham 17.4 million € (2008)
Euro 2008 gave us not only the transfer of Arshavin, but also a whole scattering of other significant transfers, including the transfer of one of the main scorers of that tournament – Roman Pavlyuchenko. Pavlyuchenko became a kind of pioneer in Europe at that time and already in the summer, six months before Andrey moved to Arsenal, he moved into the camp of their main opponents. Tottenham laid out 17.4 million euros for the Spartak striker, which at that time was a record for the Russian championship. In England, Pavlyuchenko spent 3.5 years, did not become a superstar, but spent several worthy seasons and left good memories for the fans.
15. Eldor Shomurodov (Uzbekistan), Genoa ———> Roma €18m (2021)
Eldor Shomurodov is unquestionably the best player from Central Asia over the past few years. For 4 years, the Uzbek player has made his way from his native championship to the Italian Roma. In 2020, Eldor went to conquer Serie A with Genoa. The Genoese then paid 9 million. Shomurodov was not an iron base player, but he became a kind of joker for the team and scored 8 goals in the championship. And in the summer, the capital team came for the player. According to rumors, Jose Mourinho was personally interested in signing the striker. Only now I had to pay twice as much for the former Rostov player – 18 million. A year and a half later, we can say that the invested funds have not yet justified themselves. In the current championship, Shomurodov has 115 game minutes without scoring.
14. Sergey Rebrov (Ukraine), Dynamo Kyiv ———> Tottenham 18 million € (2000)
Another transfer, which, after years, can already be called a failure. In the 1990s, the Dynamo Kyiv team represented by Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov tore apart not only in the Ukrainian championship, but also on the European arena. In 1999, Andrei left for Milan, and his teammate a year later went to conquer foggy Albion.
Traditionally tight-fisted Tottenham did not spare 18 million for the Ukrainian striker. The transfer of Rebrov was soon recognized as one of the most disastrous in the history of the entire league. After the change of head coach and leadership, Sergey sat down tightly on the bench. Soon he tried to revive his career at West Ham, but little happened there either, the great striker did not have a great career in Europe.
13. Alexander Kokorin (Russia), Dynamo ———> Anji 19 million € (2013)
The story with the transfers of Alexander Kokorin is murky and in some sense even comical, but since the transfers were officially recorded, it will not be possible to bypass them. These are the only transfers that took place in the domestic championship and they are not associated with departure to the top championships.
In 2013, Kokorin received an offer from Suleiman Kerimov, who was littering Anji with money at that time. Alexander was clearly not opposed and 19 million euros were paid for the forward. But to play for the Makhachkala club, Kokorin was not destined. The striker was injured and left for a long treatment in Germany, and when he recovered from the injury, Anji had already begun a massive sale of their star assets. As a result, Kokorin was returned to Dynamo for the same 19 million. So it turns out that officially we have two transfers for a total of 38 million, but in fact, recovery from injury in Germany with transit through Makhachkala.
12. Andrey Yarmolenko (Ukraine), Borussia Dortmund ———> West Ham €20m (2018)
Here we will have to break the chronological chain of transfers of Oleksandr Yarmolenko, but nothing can be done, we rely on the transfer value. After spending just one season in Germany and playing 26 matches in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund, the Ukrainian midfielder went to seek his fortune in the Premier League. West Ham paid 20 million euros for Andrei’s transfer to the Hammers, but did not get the desired effect. Yarmolenko was tormented by injuries, and the player was treated more than he entered the field. The Ukrainian received playing time only at the end of matches and in cup tournaments.
11.Yuri Zhirkov (Russia), CSKA ———> Chelsea €21m (2009)
Again the transfer of a Russian player to England, again in 2009 and again influenced by Euro 2008. Expectations from the transfer of Yuri Zhirkov to London Chelsea were quite high. A solid transfer amount of 21 million and the Russian owner in the person of Roman Arkadyevich as a factor of trust and quick adaptation gave hope that Zhirkov could have a good career on the fields of the Premier League. But the reality turned out to be much more prosaic. Yuriy lost the competition to Ashley Cole and despite the fact that he didn’t spoil the general outline, he didn’t become a base player and already in 2011 returned to his native land.
10. Vitaliy Mikolenko (Ukraine), Dynamo Kyiv ———> Everton €23.5m (2022)
The most recent transition on our list. A year ago, Everton forked out 23.5 million euros to acquire Dynamo Kyiv fullback Mykola Mykolenko. Italian clubs had a substantive interest in the Ukrainian, but the British, without ceremony, shipped decent money and quickly closed the deal. At the moment, Nikolay is a player of the main team and is progressing quite well, despite the failures of the club itself.
9. Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), Dynamo Kyiv ———> Milan 23.9 million € (1999)
Another brilliant career that most domestic fans should not be reminded of. Andriy Shevchenko turned out to be the most expensive asset of that legendary Dynamo Lobanovsky, who played in the Champions League semi-finals, and went in the same direction with Kakhaber Kaladze for almost 24 million. You can talk about the achievements of the Ukrainian striker for a long time. The main thing is the victory in the championship and the Champions League, and the achievement of the Golden Ball in 2004 was the apotheosis of skill.
8. Dmitry Chygrynskiy (Ukraine), Shakhtar Donetsk ———> Barcelona €25m (2009)
And this is again a transition with a minus sign, which the fans of the Catalan club to this day consider one of the most disastrous. Dmytro Chygrynskiy at the end of the 2000s surprised me very pleasantly with his performance in Shakhtar Donetsk. Barcelona was not stingy to pay 25 million for the central defender, but in the end, after a season, Chygrynskiy returned to the Pitmen’s squad, having played only a dozen matches in Spain. In 2016, the football player left for the Greek Championship, where he still performs. 36-year-old Chygrynskiy is dusting as part of the Ionikos club.
7. Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine), Dynamo Kyiv ———> Borussia Dortmund €25m (2017)
The same 25 million in 2017 were transferred to Dynamo Kyiv from Borussia Dortmund. Andriy Yarmolenko, already mentioned by us, went to conquer the European top leagues. The season in Dortmund cannot be called an unambiguous failure, as in the case of West Ham, Andrei started very well and was even recognized by the Bild newspaper as the best newcomer to the Bundesliga at the start of the championship. But a short selection played a role here, at a longer distance, most likely, Yarmolenko would also have been tormented by injuries, as in England.
6. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia), Shakhtar Donetsk ———> Borussia Dortmund €27.5m (2013)
7 years before the transfer of Yarmolenko, Henrikh Mkhitaryan went to Europe via the Dortmund route, only not from Kyiv, but from Donetsk. The Armenian football player had a brilliant season in the Ukrainian Championship, scoring 25 goals. It was clear that Heinrich would not leave cheaply. Borussia spent 27.5 million euros on the transfer, setting a club transfer record, no one before Mkhitaryan was paid that kind of money.
But the Germans did not fail, Heinrich became one of the leaders of the team and spent 3 impressive seasons in Germany. Unfortunately, Mkhitaryan did not catch the championship season and the Champions League final, having joined the team just after major cup successes, and in 3 years he won only 2 Super Cups.
5. Alexander Golovin (Russia), CSKA ———> Monaco 30 million € (2018)
Despite the successful tournament for the Russian national team, the 2018 World Cup did not give the same powerful impetus to the migration of domestic football players abroad, as it was in 2008 after the Euro. The only one who dared to move to the European Championship was Alexander Golovin. Even before the World Cup, the midfielder attracted the attention of European clubs by playing for CSKA in European competitions, the free-kick scored against Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the Europa League became especially memorable.
Immediately after the World Cup, Monaco paid the army club 30 million euros. Many criticize this transfer, believing that the transfer took place only thanks to the assistance of the Russian owners of the French club. However, Golovin, despite his endless injuries, at times continues to demonstrate a high level of play for the “Monegasques” and Golovin’s European voyage is definitely not over yet.
4. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia), Manchester United ———> Arsenal €34m (2018)
After a trip to Dortmund, Henrikh Mkhitaryan entered the English period of his career. In Manchester, the midfielder turned out to be quite a solid segment. The highest point in Manchester United was the victory in the Europa League. But at the very first downturns in the team’s game, Heinrich began to have serious misunderstandings with Jose Mourinho. Arsenal decided to take advantage of the situation and took Henry under his wing for 34 million. In London, the Armenian did not achieve great success with the club, but spent a decent season and a half, after which he went to conquer the Apennine Peninsula.
3. Alexander Zinchenko (Ukraine), MS ———> Arsenal 35 million € (2022)
In 2016, everyone was shocked by the transfer of Oleksandr Zinchenko from Ufa to Manchester City. The guy from the basement of the RPL proceeded to one of the best clubs in the world. Of course, the Ukrainian did not play in Manchester from the first days, there was a loan at PSV, there was a long role as a substitute and sitting on the bench under Benjamin Mendy. Zinchenko was an important player for MS, but he never became the main one, as a result, before the start of this season, Alexander moved to Arsenal. Londoners have paid 35 million for the left-back and, so far, everything is going as well as possible. Zinchenko switched to a system familiar to him, to a coach whom he is well acquainted with from MS and is rushing with his new team to the long-awaited championship.
2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia), Borussia D ———> Manchester United €42m (2016)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is, of course, the main headliner of this top. In the top twenty there are three transfers of the Armenian footballer and the final second place in terms of the amount paid for him. Manchester United paid the most for Henry in 2016 – 42 million euros.
1. Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), AC Milan ———> Chelsea 43.8 million € (2006)
Well, the main record holder of the post-Soviet space (before Mikhail Mudrik) is Andrey Shevchenko. In general, there are many nuances in Andrey’s transfer, several publications at once calculated the amount of transfers of previous years, taking into account the current inflation. It turns out that Andrei’s transfer is one of the most expensive in the history of the Premier League, if not the most. In terms of current money, Chelsea paid more than 100 million euros for the Ukrainian, so the transfer of Mikhail Mudrik can only conditionally be called the most expensive in history. But we are guided by official figures, almost 44 million euros were given for the Milan striker in 2006.
Roman Abramovich tried for several years to lure the Ukrainian into his team and the discouraging Istanbul Champions League final, Shevchenko agreed to a new challenge, but expectations and hopes did not come true. After returning from an injury, Andrei was no longer so fast and noticeably passed. In the only full season in the Premier League with 30 matches in the asset, he scored only 4 goals, returned on loan to Milan and soon left for his homeland in Kyiv.