Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Euro 2012: The most expensive players

Cristiano Ronaldo - £80m (Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo - £80m (Portugal)
The world's most expensive player will be captaining Portugal at this summer's tournament. Real Madrid took him off Manchester United's hands in the summer of 2009 for an eye-watering £80m. Incredibly, three years down the line it looks like money well spent, with CR7 rivalling Lionel Messi for the mantle of world's best player. The first of three Real Madrid players on this list, his contribution was the greatest as Jose Mourinho's team regained La Liga from Barcelona's clutches this season.
Fernando Torres - £50m (Spain)
Money not so well spent, at least not so far anyway. In a huge deal on transfer deadline day in January last year, El Nino left Liverpool for Stamford Bridge. But the Spaniard has failed to live up to his billing, scoring just 12 times in all competitions. The former Atletico Madrid striker was one of the stars of Euro 2008, and will be hoping that this summer's competition can revive his fortunes.
Andy Carroll - £35m (England)
Despite the big Geordie's even bigger price tag, his inclusion in Roy Hodgson's England squad raised a few eyebrows. That tells you much of the story. Since joining Liverpool from Newcastle (to replace the departed Torres) Carroll has looked like a player with the weight of £35m worth of expectation on his shoulders. Carroll has one goal in three caps for England.
David Villa - £34m (Spain)
There remains some doubt whether the Barcelona striker will be able to take part at this summer's tournament after breaking his leg earlier this season. But it would seem Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will hold out for as long as he can - and for good reason. The £34m man was the top scorer at Euro 2008 and joint top scorer at the 2010 World Cup. The 30-year-old is a player for the big occasion.
Gianluigi Buffon - £32.6m (Italy)
Even at 34-years-old, Gianluigi Buffon remains the first-choice goalkeeper for Italy, and continues to show why he's rated among the greatest goalkeepers of all time, conceding just twice during Italy's qualification campaign for Euro 2012. His transfer fee for in excess of £32m is all the more remarkable considering Juventus paid Parma the sum all the way back in 2001.
Wayne Rooney - £32.5m (England)
England's best player was snapped up by Manchester United after his swashbuckling displays at Euro 2004. The then 18-year-old looked like he might just carry England all the way to the trophy before he picked up an injury in the match against Portugal, and England were dumped out. At club level, he's been nothing short of sensational over the intervening eight-years. The same can't really be said for England, where he's failed to deliver on the big occassions. He'll miss the first two games through suspension.
Xabi Alonso - £31m (Spain)
Another player who's helped propel Real Madrid back to glory, where his commanding central midfield play has been the backbone of Mourinho's team. He's also a player that at time suffers from the stronghold Barcelona duo Andre Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez have over Spain's central midfield. For any other nation he'd be among the first names on the team-sheet, as it is, he isn't. But the former Liverpool midfielder can expect to play some part.
Karim Benzema - £31m (France)
The Frenchman was signed in the same summer as Ronaldo and Kaka as Real Madrid flexed their muscles and sent out a message to the football world. Since joining from Lyon, Benzema has improved year-on-year, scoring more goals each season, with an impressive 21 in the league this term. On the international front, he has 13 goals in 42 caps.
Cesc Fabregas - £30m (Spain)
Spain really do have a lot of talent in central midfield. Like Alonso, Fabregas is another who suffers from the quality at Vicente del Bosque's disposal. Yet the 25-year-old has managed to play a key role for the reigning European and World champions. He was named in the team-of-the-tournament for Euro 2008 and set up the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final. He joined Barcelona last summer from Arsenal in what was one of the most drawn out transfer sagas of modern times.
Mario Gomez - £30m (Germany)
The striker joined Bayern Munich from Stuttgart in 2009 and after settling in his first season, has become prolific for the German giants. In the season just gone, he scored 26 league goals and 12 in the Champions League. Germany will be hoping he can continue in his rich vein of form this summer having failed to live up to expectations at previous international tournaments.

Euro 2012 kicks-off in just a matter of weeks and in anticipation the Belfast Telegraph is running down the key factors and people to keep an eye on in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

From free-kick takers to hot-heads, blasts from the past to the youngsters, we'll have it all covered before things kick-off in Warsaw.

Here, we bring you the ten most expensive players bound for Euro 2012. Only players' most recent transfers have been taken into account, meaning that the once £50m-plus Zlatan Ibrahimovich misses out due to his less eye-popping subsequent transfer to AC Milan. Arjen Robben, who once cost in the region of £30m is another who misses out. Yet even without those particular galacticos, the ten here still cost in excess of a staggering total of £350m.

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