The Most Expensive World Cup Teams

Forbes

Barcelona paid a staggering $124 million to acquire Brazilian phenom Neymar in June 2013. It was a lauded signing ultimately marred by disappointment. It resulted in the indictment and resignation of the club's president Sandro Rosell for covering up the full transfer cost. For the player, his first season at Camp Nou fell short of expectations; he missed all but one match in the final month of competition after injuring his foot during his club’s loss to Real Madrid in the Copa Del Ray in April.

But there is little doubt the 22-year old striker is destined for greatness for his club and country.  That’s reflected in mobile sports news provider theScore’s $82 million estimate of the current market value of his transfer fee -- the amount of money an acquiring team would pay to Barca to get him out of his contract. It’s the third highest in the world. It’s also the most of any player on the Brazilian roster which claims the top spot as the Most Expensive World Cup Team valued at $718 million.

In conjunction with transfermarkt.com and Brazilian outfit Valor.com, theScore compiled the total current market value of each national squad playing in the World Cup based on the sum of the transfer fees each player could command in today’s market at their club level. Player fees are assessed by the player's salary, stats, age, and recent performances among other things.

More on Forbes: In Pictures: The Most Expensive World Cup Teams

Four-time most valuable player in the world Lionel Messi has the highest estimated transfer fee valued at $163 million. In March the 26-year old broke an 87-year old record to become Barcelona’s greatest goal scorer in history after netting his 370th goal in his 452nd match. He already held records for most goals scored by a Barca player in La Liga. In this World Cup he has scored in each of his Argentine’s squad first round matches, including a stunner in injury time yesterday in a win over Iran. Valued at $654 million, Argentina ranks as the third most expensive playing in this World Cup.

Reigning MVP Cristiano Ronaldo comes in third with an estimated $136 million current market value. His stock is holding strong -- Real Madrid spent $141 million, in today's dollars, to acquire him from Manchester United in 2009 to make his the most expensive transfer in history. His Portuguese club is ranked No. 9 among the most expensive at $400 million. Germany is the most expensive among fellow Group G clubs, ranking 4th overall in the world with an estimated value of $622 million. Ghana is worth $151 million while the US is worth only $77 million. The combined value of this group dubbed the “Group of Death”: $1.250 billion

Of interesting note, using theScore’s total market values, Group D of Uruguay ($261 million), Costa Rica ($52 million), England ($493 million), and Italy ($449 million) slightly edge out ahead as the toughest with a combined total market value of $1.254 billion.

More on Forbes: The Highest-Paid World Cup Players

Of course being the most expensive team is no guarantee of success. Ranked No. 2 on the list with a total market value of $674 million, Spain was eliminated from the tournament. The team was also top-ranked by FIFA as the favorite to win and was incentivized to repeat their 2010 World Cup victory with a world-high $977,000 bonus per player. Their first loss came at the hands of the Netherlands whose market value is $249 million, and then they were knocked out by Chile, worth $200 million.

The Top 10 Most Expensive World Cup Players (based on current market value of transfer fee):

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina, $163 million

More on Forbes: The World's Highest-Paid Soccer Players

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, $136 million

3. Neymar, Brazil, $82 million

4. Edinson Cavani, Uruguay, $82 million

5. Mario Gotze, Germany, $75 million

6. Andres Iniesta, Spain, $75 million

7. Luis Suarez, Uruguay, $71 million

8. Mesut Ozil, Germany, $68 million

9. Cesc Fabregas, Spain, $68 million

10. Hulk, Brazil, $65 million

Source: theScore via transfermarkt.com and Valor.com

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