From Messi to Neymar, World Cup teams are loaded with luxury players that have sky-high worth. This got us thinking: What if national teams had to pay players their regular club salaries? How much would each World Cup roster cost?
To see just how big these numbers would be, we dug up the reported salaries for each national team player and converted the currency to US dollars to create a “payroll” for each country’s team.
Brazil is the highest-paid team in the world.
Based on combined players’ salaries, Brazil takes “the cup” for the biggest payroll, with Argentina following close behind. With more than a whopping $185 million in hypothetical value, Brazil’s payroll would be astronomical—with a good chunk of that going to Neymar’s salary alone.
But Neymar isn’t the only player that would cost a pretty penny if his national team had to pay his regular salary. Lionel Messi, with a salary of an unbelievable $84 million, makes up almost half of Argentina’s hypothetical team salary of just over $170 million—even though there are twenty-two other players on the team.
The players are worth the price.
Teams with the highest-priced players have a greater shot at winning. For example, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, France, Germany, and England have all won the World Cup at least once, and they all land within the top ten highest-paid national teams in the world.
But then there’s Italy. With four World Cup titles—second only to Brazil’s five—Italy still didn’t make the cut for top ten highest-paid teams. With Italy, it seems high-priced players aren’t necessarily the key to winning.
By the same token, the ten lowest-paid teams were some of 2018’s hopeful underdogs that have since been eliminated (except for Russia, the host of this year’s tournament). The players on the ten lowest-paid teams average about $1 million salaries, while players on the ten highest-paid teams make an average of over $6 million. Although there’s always room for upsets, it seems money is the most reliable clincher for wins.
We also noticed how there’s no trend between geographic region and teams’ payroll (i.e. European teams don’t cost more than South American teams or vice versa). High-priced players can equate wins, but team locale apparently doesn’t.
P.S. In case you’re wondering where the USA stands, they didn’t qualify to be in the World Cup this year—hence their absence from any of our charts.
It’s expensive to win.
It’s no surprise some of the teams favored to win the World Cup have some of the highest (theoretical) payrolls—good players aren’t cheap. Luckily for the national teams, they don’t have to foot the bill.
Highest- and Lowest-Paid Player per Team
|Country||Highest-Paid Player||Lowest-Paid Player|
|Argentina||Lionel Messi: $84,000,000||Enzo Pérez: $939,778|
|Brazil||Neymar: $73,000,000||Danilo: $801,931|
|Portugal||Cristiano Ronaldo: $61,000,000||Gonçalo Guedes: $99,854|
|France||Paul Pogba: $25,000,000||Lucas Hernández: $58,649|
|Colombia||James Rodríguez: $21,400,000||José Fernando Cuadrado: $122,159|
|Uruguay||Luis Suárez: $19,900,000||Martín Campaña: $46,000|
|Belgium||Axel Witsel: $18,864,032||Thorgan Hazard: $33,960|
|Germany||Thomas Müller: $18,854,912||Marvin Plattenhardt: $981,144|
|Japan||Maya Yoshida: $16,731,700||Hiroki Sakai: $39,641|
|Mexico||Héctor Herrera: $15,916,055||Carlos Salcedo: $48,500|
|Spain||David Silva: $15,378,444||Rodrigo: $939,518|
|England||Harry Kane: $13,916,770||Nick Pope: $1,043,688|
|Iceland||Jón Daði Böðvarsson: $13,265,824||Rúrik Gíslason: $35,238|
|Poland||Robert Lewandowski: $11,786,820||Artur Jędrzejczyk: $66,184|
|Nigeria||Odion Ighalo: $10,000,000||Ikechukwu Ezenwa: $46,791|
|Croatia||Ivan Rakitić: $9,396,672||Ante Rebić: $704,804|
|Senegal||Keita Baldé: $9,100,000||Abdoulaye Diallo: $77,799|
|Egypt||Mohamed Salah: $8,044,566||Mohamed Abdel-Shafy: $70,000|
|Denmark||Christian Eriksen: $7,649,413||Jonas Lössl: $347,698|
|Serbia||Aleksandar Kolarov: $7,071,300||Aleksandar Prijović: $150,000|
|Switzerland||Granit Xhaka: $6,261,709||Denis Zakaria: $200,000|
|Morocco||Medhi Benatia: $5,499,234||Nabil Dirar: $77,534|
|Sweden||Victor Lindelöf: $5,153,277||Albin Ekdal: $353,565|
|Russia||Yuri Zhirkov: $4,712,580||Aleksei Miranchuk: $41,224|
|Australia||Trent Sainsbury: $4,000,000||Milos Degenek: $549,600|
|Costa Rica||Keylor Navas: $3,824,040||Johnny Acosta: $41,452|
|Peru||Jefferson Farfán: $3,758,890||Miguel Araujo: $70,000|
|South Korea||Hwang Hee-chan: $2,714,496||Kim Min-woo: $34,000|
|Saudi Arabia||Motaz Hawsawi: $2,677,180||Abdullah Otayf: $21,183|
|IR Iran||Sardar Azmoun: $2,232,329||Mehdi Taremi: $33,000|
|Panama||Felipe Baloy: $1,530,089||Ismael Díaz: $59,999|
|Tunisia||Ellyes Skhiri: $1,225,787||Farouk Ben Mustapha: $17,325|
|Highest-Paid Player||Lionel Messi: $84,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Enzo Pérez: $939,778|
|Highest-Paid Player||Neymar: $73,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Danilo: $801,931|
|Highest-Paid Player||Cristiano Ronaldo: $61,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Gonçalo Guedes: $99,854|
|Highest-Paid Player||Paul Pogba: $25,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Lucas Hernández: $58,649|
|Highest-Paid Player||James Rodríguez: $21,400,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||José Fernando Cuadrado: $122,159|
|Highest-Paid Player||Luis Suárez: $19,900,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Martín Campaña: $46,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Axel Witsel: $18,864,032|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Thorgan Hazard: $33,960|
|Highest-Paid Player||Thomas Müller: $18,854,912|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Marvin Plattenhardt: $981,144|
|Highest-Paid Player||Maya Yoshida: $16,731,700|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Hiroki Sakai: $39,641|
|Highest-Paid Player||Héctor Herrera: $15,916,055|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Carlos Salcedo: $48,500|
|Highest-Paid Player||David Silva: $15,378,444|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Rodrigo: $939,518|
|Highest-Paid Player||Harry Kane: $13,916,770|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Nick Pope: $1,043,688|
|Highest-Paid Player||Jón Daði Böðvarsson: $13,265,824|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Rúrik Gíslason: $35,238|
|Highest-Paid Player||Robert Lewandowski: $11,786,820|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Artur Jędrzejczyk: $66,184|
|Highest-Paid Player||Odion Ighalo: $10,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Ikechukwu Ezenwa: $46,791|
|Highest-Paid Player||Ivan Rakitić: $9,396,672|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Ante Rebić: $704,804|
|Highest-Paid Player||Keita Baldé: $9,100,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Abdoulaye Diallo: $77,799|
|Highest-Paid Player||Mohamed Salah: $8,044,566|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Mohamed Abdel-Shafy: $70,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Christian Eriksen: $7,649,413|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Jonas Lössl: $347,698|
|Highest-Paid Player||Aleksandar Kolarov: $7,071,300|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Aleksandar Prijović: $150,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Granit Xhaka: $6,261,709|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Denis Zakaria: $200,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Medhi Benatia: $5,499,234|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Nabil Dirar: $77,534|
|Highest-Paid Player||Victor Lindelöf: $5,153,277|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Albin Ekdal: $353,565|
|Highest-Paid Player||Yuri Zhirkov: $4,712,580|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Aleksei Miranchuk: $41,224|
|Highest-Paid Player||Trent Sainsbury: $4,000,000|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Milos Degenek: $549,600|
|Highest-Paid Player||Keylor Navas: $3,824,040|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Johnny Acosta: $41,452|
|Highest-Paid Player||Jefferson Farfán: $3,758,890|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Miguel Araujo: $70,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Hwang Hee-chan: $2,714,496|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Kim Min-woo: $34,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Motaz Hawsawi: $2,677,180|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Abdullah Otayf: $21,183|
|Highest-Paid Player||Sardar Azmoun: $2,232,329|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Mehdi Taremi: $33,000|
|Highest-Paid Player||Felipe Baloy: $1,530,089|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Ismael Díaz: $59,999|
|Highest-Paid Player||Ellyes Skhiri: $1,225,787|
|Lowest-Paid Player||Farouk Ben Mustapha: $17,325|
Note: Salary data is variable. We calculated averages and totals based on our conglomerate data set. We pulled our numbers from multiple sources, and the reflected approximations may not be exact.