$1.2 billion can buy you a couple of private islands off the Miami coast, two private jets, a private yacht, your own super car collection and still leave you with enough to live out the rest of your life in luxury. Or you could, if allowed, own the 23-man French football World Cup squad.
In fact, apart from France, there are four other national squads participating in the World Cup that have a market value of over $1 billion. That's according to data compiled by BloombergQuint from Germany-based website transfermarkt, which values players based on their age, performance, remaining years in their existing contract and other supplementary metrics.
Spain, Brazil, England and Germany join France in the billion-dollar club.
The Didier Deschamps-managed French team saw its cumulative value boosted by the presence of superstars like Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe ($141.5 million), Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann ($118 million )and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba ($106.1 million).
Spain, the 2010 champions, did not have even a single player valued above $100 million. However, its average player value of $53 million meant that it was the second most valuable squad. Brazil, which boasts of the world’s costliest player Neymar, took third spot.
Among the least valuable squads at the World Cup were mostly smaller South American and Middle Eastern nations. Panama, one of the smallest nations to play in a football world cup, is also the least valued. The nation, which declared a public holiday after qualifying for the event, has a combined value of $9.9 million.
Unsurprisingly Argentina’s Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest footballer of this generation, was the most valuable player. But he wasn’t the only one. He shared the top spot with former Barcelona teammate Neymar with a value of $212.5 million. The two forwards were followed by Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who’s just coming off a title winning season with Manchester City. Next in line were English striker Harry 'Hurricane' Kane, and the Egyptian King Mohamed Salah—the two top scorers in England’s top tier of club football last season.
Just Neymar himself is more valuable than the combined worth of Panama, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Costa Rica and Iran. And you’d still have $40 million left.
The Costliest XI vs The Dropped XI
Based on these numbers, BloombergQuint compiled the most valuable playing XI at the World Cup this year. The formation chosen is the classic 4-4-2, with two strikers, four midfielders and four defenders. The most valuable players at the respective positions were picked.
Spain and Manchester United’s number one David De Gea will be in front of the goal as the world’s most valuable shot stopper.
And then there are those who missed the bus. With big names like Germany’s Leroy Sane, Argentina's Mauro Icardi and Spain’s Alvaro Morata not getting a berth on the flight to Russia, it would be interesting to compile a playing XI of the most valuable players that were not picked. Again, we chose the standard 4-4-2 formation.
Will the teams prove their worth, or will we get surprises? We’ll soon find out as the world’s biggest sporting event kicks off with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia.