Over the course of time, Serie A has proven to be a breeding ground for some of the world’s best players to hone their craft.
Italian giants Juventus and Milan have previously shown they are not afraid to spend the big bucks where necessary, with the fees paid to sign the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho and Paulo Dybala testament to that fact.
With the January sales closing for another year just over a week ago, we analyse the most expensive Serie A XI of all time.
1. Gianluigi Buffon €52m
We kick off this list with one of the most iconic goalkeepers in world football – Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon.
The 40-year old keeper has made over 650 appearances during his legendary 23-year career in Serie A, amassing an incredible 175 caps for Italy as well.
He spent six seasons at Parma before Italian football’s dominant force came calling. Juventus parted with over €52m to secure Buffon’s services back in 2001, which translated into today’s transfer market, is an astronomical figure.
Given his success in the game, it’s fair to say he has probably been worth every penny.
2. Lilian Thuram €41.5m
Juventus feature prominently on this list, with right-back Lilian Thuram just another example of the Bianconeri splashing the cash.
He remains the most expensive right-back in Serie A history, after making the same switch that Buffon did back in 2001. The Frenchman cost a cool €41.5m, as Parma profited heavily from the deep lining of Juventus’ transfer pockets.
Thuram spent six years in Turin, making 144 appearances before continuing his illustrious career at Barcelona.
3. Leonardo Bonucci €42m
Fellow heavyweights Milan have slipped out of contention for major honours in recent years, with the ownership of the club and financial irregularities plunging the club into crisis.
They remain one of the most iconic teams in world football, though, and have attempted to fight back this season by dishing out the big bucks.
Leonardo Bonucci surprisingly decided to trade Juve for Milan in a €42m deal last summer, with the Rossoneri eventually signing cheques worth over €210m in a bid to return to Italy’s top table.
4. Alessandro Nesta €31m
Milan’s glory days at the start of the century were indebted somewhat to the defensive capabilities of Alessandro Nesta.
The Italian formed a rock solid partnership with Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Jaap Stam at the San Siro, earning two Serie A titles and two Champions League crowns.
He moved to Milan for €31m from financially ruined Lazio back in 2002, making 326 appearances in a decade long spell at the club.
5. Alex Sandro €26m
Two apiece so far between Juventus and Milan in this money splurging rundown, but not for long.
Brazilian left-back Alex Sandro currently holds the title of most expensive left-back in Serie A, with Juve splashing out €26m to snap up his services from Portuguese giants Porto.
His pace and understanding of the game have seen Sandro linked with a move away from the Allianz Stadium, with Premier League champions Chelsea among a host of clubs rumoured to be interested in snapping him up for a likely, larger fee.
6. Federico Bernardeschi €40m
Perhaps a surprise name to many on this list is Juventus’ costly right winger Federico Bernardeschi.
The 23-year old moved to Turin last summer for a whopping €40m, having spent four successful years with Fiorentina.
He is widely regarded as one of Italy’s brightest prospects, with the creative midfielder expected to hold down a regular place at the Bianconeri for many years to come.
7. Gaizka Mendieta €48m
Nope, your eyes do not deceive you. We are indeed about to meet our first player on the list signed for an eye-watering transfer fee by a club that isn’t Juve or Milan.
Enter, Lazio and Gaizka Mendieta. The Spanish midfielder had built up a fantastic reputation at La Liga giants Valencia, with many of the richest clubs in the world keen to secure his services.
He eventually moved to money bags Lazio for an astronomical €48m, a fee that still remains the fourth most expensive in Serie A history. His time in Italy was ultimately a disappointment though, and he joined Barcelona on loan a year later before moving to the Premier League with Middlesbrough.
8. Rui Costa €42m
Never fear, back to normality and another mega signing from the Rossoneri back in the summer of 2001.
Portuguese superstar Rui Costa was sought after by many top teams for several seasons, before making the move to Milan from Serie A rivals Fiorentina for a fee of €42m.
The move would pay off for the midfield genius, with domestic and European success attained by Costa during a highly successful spell at the club. He returned home to finish his career at Benfica after six seasons with the Italian giants.
9. Pavel Nedved €41m
One of the most influential wingers of his generation, Pavel Nedved was one of those players that could always be relied on (particularly on Championship Manager).
The legendary Czech Republic winger was another high profile player to depart Lazio for bigger and better things, joining Juventus in the summer of 2001 for €41m.
He was one of the most consistent and loyal players of his generation, winning multiple titles at the Bianconeri during his nine-year stay.
After a match fixing scandal rocked the club in 2006, Nedved pledged to stay at the club (as did Buffon) and help Juve gain promotion back to Serie A. They did so at the first time of asking, with Nedved eventually ending his career in Turin with almost 250 league appearances to his name.
10. Gonzalo Higuain €90m
The most expensive player on the list, and you guessed it, Juventus are the club responsible for forking out.
Bringing Gonzalo Higuain to the club from rivals Napoli two summers ago, Juve parted with a Serie A record fee of €90m to snare their man.
Their investment has paid dividends, with the former Real Madrid striker leading the club to Scudetto glory for the 33rd time last season.
Now 30 years old, Higuain remains one of the most lethal finishers in world football, and will likely play a prominent role for Argentina in the World Cup this summer.
11. Hernan Crespo €57m
Our final entrant on this list of rather expensive chaps is Argentine striker Hernan Crespo. The powerful striker played for a host of top European clubs during his stellar career, including Chelsea, Inter and Milan.
He joined Lazio for a then world record fee of £35m in 2000, topped up in value by the part exchange of midfielders Matias Almeyda and Sergio Conceicao to Parma.
Crespo finished as top scorer in his debut season for the club, scoring 26 times. He suffered with injuries in his second season though, before departing for Inter in another cash rich deal.