MX23RW : Saturday, August 18 08:45:09

World football's most expensive XI of all time

Following a record-breaking January transfer window, Sports Mole compiles the most expensive XI in football history, totalling more than £1bn.

Over the years, incredible amounts of money have been spent on footballers. Back in 1885 the idea of a full-time professional footballer was first accepted by the FA, with clubs including Blackburn Rovers paying top players James Forrest and Joseph Lofthouse £1 a week.

Nowadays, wages and transfer fees are rising sharply, with transfers over the £50m mark becoming commonplace. Manchester City, for instance, can now field a back four with a staggering total cost of £201m.

Following a record-breaking January transfer window, this seems like the ideal time to consider how much the most expensive 11 players in today's game would cost and who gets in to this megabucks team.

The formation employed, a 4-3-3, will be one which could theoretically work given the personnel, and each player's role in this gold-plated fantasy team will be explained.



Football's most expensive XI


GK: Ederson (Manchester City, £35m)

Ederson celebrates City's equaliser during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham United on December 3, 2017© Offside

Manchester City's recent defensive spending bonanza includes a £35m fee paid to Benfica for the services of 24-year-old goalkeeper Ederson.

A double league winner with Benfica, Ederson's start to life at Manchester City has been successful, quickly establishing himself as an important part of Guardiola's new look defence.

Given the immense attacking nature of this team, Ederson is often exposed when the opposition do launch an attack, but he has proved to be as adept at keeping them at bay as he has launching attacks for his own side.



RB: Kyle Walker (Manchester City, £50m)

Kyle Walker in action for Manchester City against Brighton & Hove Albion on August 12, 2017© Offside

One of four Manchester City men in the back five, Kyle Walker's £50m transfer from Tottenham Hotspur last July was a real statement of intent from City and their owner Sheikh Mansour.

Combining pace in attack with defensive solidity, Walker has earned rave reviews from several quarters this season and has been a key part of City's impressive first half of the season.

In this fantasy XI, Walker would take up his preferred right-back position, with responsibility to defend when necessary and provide width to the attacks of this expansive side.



CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool, £75m)

Virgil van Dijk in action during the Premier League game between Swansea City and Liverpool on January 22, 2018© SilverHub

Virgil van Dijk's £75m move from Southampton to Liverpool last month smashed the world record fee for a defender, defeating Benjamin Mendy's move to Man City by a clear £23m.

Just a few games into his Liverpool career, Van Dijk has already been dropped, with Reds boss Klopp favouring Dejan Lovren against Huddersfield Town recently, but perhaps he would fare better in this most expensive XI.

In terms of position, things would be simple for Van Dijk, as he would take up his regular centre-back role.



CB: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City, £57m)

Aymeric Laporte in action for his new side during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion on January 31, 2018© SilverHub

Just when you thought Manchester City had spent enough money on defenders for one season, they appear on this list once again.

Aymeric Laporte's £57m move to Man City from Athletic Bilbao could be a major coup for Pep Guardiola; he is hotly tipped by those who have followed his progress in La Liga and he has already impressed on his debut in a 3-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

In this most expensive eleven, Laporte would take up his regular spot at centre-back.



LB: Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City, £52m)

Manchester City full-back Benjamin Mendy in action during his side's Premier League clash with Liverpool on September 9, 2017© Offside

Benjamin Mendy's £52m transfer from Monaco to Man City last summer was a world-record fee for a defender at the time.

Blighted by injury since his arrival at the Etihad Stadium, Mendy will have to repeat his impressive form of last season if he is to make an impact in Pep Guardiola's Man City side.

In this team Mendy would need to provide defensive solidity on the left side, but more excitingly his attacking capabilities would allow him to form a powerful combination with Neymar, the left-sided forward in this XI.



CM: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona, £135.5m)

Signed by Barcelona in August of last year for a then club-record fee of £135.5m, Dembele gets the coveted number 10 role in this 4-3-3 attacking juggernaut.

Plagued by injury since his arrival in the Catalan capital, the former Borussia Dortmund man is still seen as having huge potential and Barcelona will be confident of seeing a return on their hefty investment once the youngster is able to get his career at the club properly underway.

In his unveiling to fans last August, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde signalled that he expects Dembele to be the club's replacement for Neymar, telling reporters: "He's a player who guarantees attacking threat, which is something we had lost and we badly need."

In this team, Valverde's word will be taken, as Dembele has been given the spot so many members of the team would desire.



CM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United, £89m)

Paul Pogba in action during the Premier League game between Manchester United and Leicester City on August 26, 2017© Offside

Last summer, Paul Pogba sensationally returned to his former club Manchester United, five years after leaving on a free transfer.

Pogba's impact at United thus far is debated, however in this side his role is clear; as the most accomplished combative midfielder in this most expensive XI, Pogba would have to rein in his attacking instincts and protect the back four.



CM: Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona, £142m)

Philippe Coutinho in action for Barcelona on January 28, 2018© Offside

A technical genius at the heart of this fantasy XI's midfield, Coutinho's £142m transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona is the second most expensive deal of all time.

A fan-favourite at Anfield, Coutinho has the chance to put his name in the history books at the Nou Camp, but as a creative midfielder his long-term task will be replacing the legendary Andres Iniesta.

In this side, Coutinho would be given some creative license in his central midfield role, though due to the attacking nature of this side, the ex-Liverpool man would also be forced to work hard in the middle of the park.



RW: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, £86m)

Gareth Bale celebrates scoring during the La Liga game between Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna on January 21, 2018© Offside

Joining another of his Real Madrid teammates in this star-studded lineup, Gareth Bale signed for Los Blancos from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for a then world-record fee of £86m.

Though Bale has received much criticism in the Spanish media, he has also achieved much success since arriving in the Spanish capital.

Bale was part of the Real Madrid side that won La Liga last season and he has also won three Champions League titles, his marquee achievement being his scoring the winner in the 2013-14 Champions League final - Real's first triumph in the competition for 12 years.

Appropriately, Bale would play exactly the same position in this side as he played on that victorious night in Lisbon, the right-sided attacker in a front three, with a responsibility to defend against the opposition's left-sided attacks.



CF: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, £80m)

Cristiano Ronaldo is stunned during the Champions League group game between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid on November 1, 2017© SilverHub

Signed by Real Madrid for £80m from Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United, the five time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo stands out on this list as the most durable entry; his dream move happened in 2009, four years before any other member of the team.

Ronaldo's goalscoring achievements speak for themselves, the most outstanding of which being a record 114 goals in the Champions League.

Therefore, in this side he earns the centre-forward berth. With no defensive responsibilities Ronaldo can use all of his sublime talent to put the ball in the back of the net.



LW: Neymar (Barcelona, £200m)

Neymar in action for Paris Saint-Germain on November 22, 2017© Offside

Completing the forward line, Neymar is the subject of the world-record transfer fee.

The Brazilian's £200m move from Barcelona to PSG is perhaps something no club in the world other than the Ligue 1 giants could execute.

Having remained at his debut club Santos until 2013, Neymar built his reputation in South America to great heights, winning the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award by a margin greater than Diego Maradona, Zico and Pele.

He continued to impress at Barcelona, winning the Champions League in 2014-15 and two La Liga titles while forming a legendary front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

In this most expensive XI, he would play in his regular position on the left of front three, though he would be asked to do some tracking back given the incredibly attacking nature of the midfield three.


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