With new additions to the World’s Most Expensive Football Team, we look back at who thrived under the pressure of their price.
With Manchester City having made Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy the most expensive full backs, and Ederson the most expensive goalkeeper in world football, it’s worth looking at how the other eight have coped with the pressure of their hefty price tags.
In 2014, David Luiz was sold by Jose Mourinho from Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain for a huge £50m. Luiz refused to be weighed down by the fee and bagged himself a place in the 2014 FIFA World Team of the Year, knocked his old club out of the Champions League and won all the available trophies in French football. After he was brought back to Chelsea for roughly half that fee it became apparent that at the time he had been overpriced. Nevertheless, he took it in his stride.
It was indeed Manchester City that managed to get their hands on the world’s second most expensive centre back, John Stones. His move from Everton for £47.5m came after a shaky season at Goodison. City, however, saw the potential in this young Englishman and seized the opportunity.
His slender frame and ball-playing style is regarded as the future for the men at the back. The latter is something that has previously got Stones into trouble in games. When watching him play there’s a feeling of everyone just waiting for him to lose the ball so that his price tag can be mocked.
In his debut season at City, though, he guided them to a third-place finish in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final, as well as establishing himself as a regular starter in the England team.
On the one wing, there is Angel Di Maria. In 2014, having won the Champions League with Real Madrid he was sold for £59.7m to Manchester United. In what was later described as one of the worst signings of the season, Di Maria could only muster four goals in 32 appearances for the Red Devils.
The price tag and pressure of the No. 7 shirt was too much for the young Argentine and he subsequently left Old Trafford as quickly as he could.
On the opposite wing, Gareth Bale’s move from Spurs to Real Madrid for a cool fee of £85m made him the world’s most expensive player. Despite four seasons where injury has restricted his playing time, Bale has still managed to win three Champions Leagues and La Liga, scoring in vital games.
At just 28, his league tally stands at 54 goals in 100 games for the Galacticos. Under Zinedine Zidane, we should expect even more goals and trophies to come from the young Welshman.
Back in the north of England, Manchester United weren’t shy with the chequebook as they splashed out £89m last summer on central midfielder Paul Pogba.
Becoming the world’s most expensive player could be a burden, yet the Frenchman has appeared totally unfazed. Winning the Europa League and League Cup have been a fine start to his United career. Justifying his price tag would mean being an out-and-out game-changer, a talent he does not yet possess.
However, at 24, he has plenty of time to become that player. And under the shrewd management of Jose Mourinho, Pogba can become a United legend.
In the other central midfield position, James Rodriguez’s move from Monaco to Real Madrid cost £63m after his eye-catching performances at the 2014 World Cup. His time in the Spanish capital has been one where most of his performances justify his price tag, and yet, he has been demoted to the bench or played out of position.
Only really being selected when one of the BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) was injured, James has rarely played in his preferred role just behind the striker.
Not wishing to lose him completely, Madrid have allowed a two-year loan deal with Bayern Munich. Presumably by the time this ends he expects Real to have a new manager or play a system that suits him personally.
Further up the field, Gonzalo Higuain’s £75.3m switch from Napoli to Juventus certainly raised some eyebrows at the time. Romelu Lukaku, an established Premier League goal-scorer in a highly-competitive division, has just made a move to Manchester United for only £300k less. However, despite the Italian league being considerably less competitive, Higuain still proved to be a beneficial signing as he netted 24 league goals, helping Juve finish 1st, whilst also taking them to the Champions League final.
The final player in the world’s most expensive team really needs no introduction. In 2009, he switched from United to Madrid for a mere £80m.
Since his move, he has broken countless records and become officially the world’s best player.
There are no doubts that he will be talked about forever, and compared to the all-time greats.
Spending most of his career tussling for the top spot with his rival, Lionel Messi, could have knocked his confidence. It, however, has arguably made him an even better player.
Having converted himself from a winger to a striker, we should expect many more years at the top for Cristiano Ronaldo.