If the world of football is a mad world, then the 2014 FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of that madness. Thirty-two country teams, with players valued at over £4.75 billion (RM25.8 billion) will be converging at a stage set at a cost of some £6 billion (RM32.3 billion) in stadiums and infrastructure, to fight for the right to hold aloft a trophy no longer than the average footballer’s forearm.
After the provisional 30-man squads for each country were announced yesterday, what is most exciting is the wealth of footballing talent on display, everyday for a whole month. Say goodbye to productivity, as all eyes turn to these 10 most expensive squads at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
10. Netherlands (£184.1m)
The last World Cup’s finalists kick off the list with the only top 10 team valued at under £200 million. That’s not to say they will be lacking firepower, with most valuable players Robin van Persie (£32.4m), Arjen Robben (£20.3m) and Wesley Sneijder (£13.8m) leading the European power house’s front line.
9. Portugal (£262.1m)
No surprises here, Cristiano Ronaldo (£81.5m) is Portugal’s most valuable player, both from the financial accounting and footballing standpoint. Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 for £80m to become the world’s most expensive player at the time. His value to club and country has only increased since.
8. England (£272.1m)
Wayne Rooney (£36.7m) of Manchester United leads the way as England’s most expensive player, followed by midfielder Jack Wilshere (£26.7m), Leighton Baines and Daniel Sturridge (£16.1m each).
7. Belgium (£286.5m)
At the last World Cup, any discussion of Belgium being in the top 10 most valuable list would have been shot down. Big new talents like Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (£36.7m), Vincent Kompany and Axel Witsel (£28.4m each) has changed things, although they still have not broached FIFA’s top 10 rankings yet.
6. Italy (£333.2m)
Resident whiner Mario Baloteli (£24.4m) also happens to be Italy’s most valuable player, from a financial standpoint at least. If he doesn’t throw a famous tantrum, perhaps he’ll be worth his price tag too.
5. France (£359.8m)
France remains a perennial footballing force in European and world football. Most valuable player Paul Pogba (£36.7m) is also among France’s youngest players, at 21 years of age.
4. Argentina (£375.5m)
Lionel Messi (£97.7m) will be by some measure of distance the most expensive player at the World Cup. Three of Argentina’s next most valuable, Sergio Aguero (£36.5m), Gonzalo Higuain (£30.8m) and Angel Di Maria (£24.3m), all footballing superstars in their own right, are not as valued as highly as Messi alone. That’s how good he is.
3. Brazil (£380.8m)
Messi’s Barcelona team mate Neymar (£48.9m) is the host country’s hottest young talent, and is expected to shine playing in front of a massive home crowd. Striker Hulk (£38.9m) and defender Thiago Silva (£32.4m) complete the top three.
2. Germany (£501.8m)
Germany will be eyeing top honours, having been knocked out by Spain in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup. The burden is on Mario Gotze (£44.8m), Mesut Ozil (£40.5m) and Thomas Muller (£32.4m) to get there.
1. Spain (£611.7m)
Reigning champions, and currently ranked no.1 in FIFA rankings, Spain has at its disposal the most expensive team in the world. Combined, the value of Spain’s squad alone exceeds the combined value of all squad players in Group E (Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras). Andres Iniesta (£44.8m) is Spain’s most expensive just ahead of Cesc Fabregas (£40.4m) and Sergio Busquets (£36.5m).
If those numbers don’t amaze you, then consider that the broadcasting rights for the month-long event have been sold for a rumoured £1.55 billion (RM 8.39 billion) to television networks worldwide, and combined merchandising revenue (think team jerseys and merchandise, footballs, any souvenir with the official logo slapped on it) amounting to billions of Ringgit! It’s going to be a mad, mad month indeed.