Real Madrid’s emphatic start to this summer’s transfer market has stolen football’s attention.
An extensive rebuild promised to returning head coach Zinedine Zidane has already seen – including deals previously agreed – more than €300 million spent on the likes of Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard, promising Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic and emerging Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy.
There is still the promise of even more to come, with links to €150m-rated Manchester United centre midfielder Paul Pogba refusing to go away.
This splurge is sure to transform Los Blancos’ expectations after they claimed just the Club World Cup in 2018/19. But how does it compare to previous ones?
We’ve looked back through the past five decades to select the most-consequential pre-season spending sprees. Here is the pick of the 1990s:
MANCHESTER UNITED (1998)
Key arrivals: Jaap Stam, Dwight Yorke, Jesper Blomqvist
Honourable mentions: Parma (1996 – Lilian Thuram, Hernan Crespo, Enrico Chiesa), Real Madrid (1996 – Bodo Illgner, Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf, Davor Suker, Predrag Mijatovic), Lazio (1998 – Marcelo Salas, Christian Vieri, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Dejan Stankovic, Sergio Conceicao, Fernando Couto), Bayern Munich (1998 – Thomas Linke, Hasan Salihamidzic, Stefan Effenberg, Jens Jeremies)
Something extra was required by Sir Alex Ferguson.
A painful 1997/98 witnessed Arsenal and emerging rival Arsene Wenger get the upper hand in the Premier League thanks to an electric end to the campaign, while a youthful Monaco – whose prodigious frontline was led by Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet – provided lashings of further Champions League pain in the quarter-finals.
These failings saw the United board, as detailed by ex-chairman and chief executive Martin Edwards on talkSPORT, wonder if the highest standards had been allowed to slip. Significant doubts caused them to ask Ferguson to prematurely end his post-season holiday.
The response was emphatic – and historic. Backed with a near £30 million transfer pot, United twice broke their club transfer record and went from mere Charity Shield winners in 1997/98 to England’s only winners of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup a season later.
The immortal treble winners began taking shape when Ferguson headed off a packed field to land titanic PSV Eindhoven centre-back Jaap Stam for £10.6 million – a new landmark for a defender. After a mixed World Cup 1998 with the Netherlands and shaky Charity Shield, performances soon began matching the lavish fee.
Ferguson’s foresight and instincts proved razor sharp with the fraught £12.6m deal to wrestle Dwight Yorke from Aston Villa. The Trinidad and Tobago international would form a telepathic partnership with Andy Cole and 53 goals were scored between them.
But it was this then revolutionary decision to stockpile strikers that, epically, paid dividends the following May. Back-ups Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer netted in the dying throes during the unforgettable Champions League decider to shred Bayern Munich hearts.
Long-term target Jesper Blomqvist would also add squad depth on the flanks once £4.4m was paid to Parma. He would start the classic decider against the Bundesliga giants.
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