The best soccer players on Earth are some of the wealthiest athletes. The players who play for big European clubs make more in a week than many people earn in a year. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, all of the world’s soccer stars are in one place and playing for their countries, for a price.
New research detailing club contracts and players’ market value reveal the 10 most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup. The stars from one soccer-loving country (No. 8) are earning a whopping $1 billion, but they still fall short of the surprising team that tops the list at No. 1.
Total contract value: $367 million
Highest-paid player: Ivan Rakitic
We start our journey along the Adriatic coast in Croatia. Captain and midfielder Luka Modric is the more recognizable name, but according to TransferMarkt, Ivan Rakitic’s mammoth Barcelona contract is the most valuable on the team.
Next: One of the smallest countries has a shockingly big payroll.
Total contract value: $380 million
Highest-paid player: Luis Suarez
With only about 3.3 million people Uruguay is one of the least-populous countries in the field, but it’s also one of the most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup. Luis Suarez’s huge Barcelona payday is the largest for Uruguay, though Edinson Cavani, Jose Gimenez, and Diego Godin are well-paid, too.
Next: You can’t ignore this country’s payroll and its $60 million per year superstar.
Total contract value: $474 million
Highest-paid player: Cristiano Ronaldo
When you have an international superstar such as Cristiano Ronaldo making more than $60 million a year in salary, you knew Portugal would show up among the most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup. Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva have large contracts, but the rest of the team is well behind that pair when it comes to salary.
Next: You can’t talk about soccer superstars without mentioning this expensive player.
Total contract value: $707 million
Highest-paid player: Lionel Messi
You can’t mention well-paid soccer superstars and not mention Lionel Messi. He’s still active, yet he’s one of the richest athletes of all time. Messi and teammates Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero, and Gonzalo Higuain are all worth a ton of money on the open market, according to TransferMarkt, which is why Argentina is one of the most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup.
Next: A high-paid trio puts this small country on our list.
Total contract value: $770 million
Highest-paid player: Kevin De Bruyne
Do you want to know why tiny Belgium makes the cut as one of the most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup? It’s because of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and Romelu Lukaku. That trio play for Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United, respectively, in the English Premier League. Those three clubs are among the most valuable in the world, and they pay their stars accordingly.
Next: The stars from this soccer-loving country are paid more than you think.
Total contract value: $892 million
Highest-paid player: Harry Kane
England hasn’t won a World Cup since hosting the tournament in 1966, but the drought isn’t impacting how much the team’s stars make from their club teams. Buoyed by Harry Kane’s huge new contract from Tottenham, England is one of the most valuable teams in the World Cup.
Next: A slew of mid-size contracts puts this team above the $900 million mark.
Total contract value: $901 million
Highest-paid player: Toni Kroos
We’ve encountered high-paid stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne, and Harry Kane so far, and while Germany has its share of stars it’s the slew of mid-size contracts that put it on the list. Toni Kroos earns about $94 million from Real Madrid, but Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and Timo Werner all make about the same amount from their respective clubs.
Next: A billion-dollar team that features one of the brightest stars in the game.
Total contract value: $1 billion
Highest-paid player: Neymar
Brazilian superstar Neymar is usually mentioned in the same breath with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when discussing the best soccer players in the world. He’s paid like it, too. Thanks to Neymar’s massive contract from Paris St. Germain, Brazil is worth about $1 billion and is one of the most valuable teams in the 2018 World Cup.
Next: Almost every player on this team is swimming in money.
Total contract value: $1.06 billion
Highest-paid player: Sergio Busquets
Spain’s roster might not have the same kind of name recognition as the other teams on this list, but almost every player is swimming in money. Sergio Busquets earns a very nice living playing for Barcelona, but nine other players on the team join him making more than $60 million.
Next: The surprising No. 1 team that tops the list.
Total contract value: $1.1 billion
Highest-paid player: Kylian Mbappe
If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: France tops the list of the most valuable teams at the 2018 World Cup. Its top players play for the biggest clubs all over Europe, and nearly all of them earn healthy paychecks for their efforts.
Total contract values courtesy of HowMuch.