Since 1975, when Giuseppe Savoldi was signed by Napoli for a then world record fee of just over over £1m, transfer fees have risen uncontrollably and irreversibly.
So here is list of today's players with the highest market value, according to Transfermarkt.
(For the sake of fitting the players into a formation, allow some leeway for their respective positions)
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas | Market Value: £31m
The most-capped goalkeeper and most capped Spaniard of all time, Iker Casillas has been named the best goalkeeper in the world by FIFA for the last five seasons. It is no surprise, therefore, that he tops the list of most valuable goalkeepers, fighting off the likes of Manuel Neuer and Petr Cech, who are valued at £26.5m and £22m respectively.
Right-back: Philipp Lahm | Market Value: £24.5m
The captain of Bayern Munich and Germany, Philipp Lahm has established himself as one of the world’s best full-backs with the ability to play either on the right or the left flank. He was included in the World Cup Team of the Tournament in 2006 and 2010, the UEFA Team of the Tournament in 2008 and 2012, and the FIFA Team of the Year in 2008.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos | Market Value: £35m
A defensive mainstay for both Real Madrid and the Spanish national side, Sergio Ramos started as a right-back before switching to the centre and was an integral part of Spain’s back-to-back European Championship and World Cup titles, as well as Real Madrid’s record-breaking triumph in La Liga last season.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva | Market Value: £35m
Thiago Silva left AC Milan for PSG last summer along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in deal worth around £51m. He has established himself as one of the world’s premier centre-halves and if Brazil are going to become the first host nation to lift the World Cup since France in 1998, then his leadership will be integral to their success.
Left-back: Marcelo | Market Value: £26.5m
Perhaps not everyone’s choice for world left-back of the year in 2012, the Brazilian international was nevertheless a key component of Real Madrid’s league success last term. Marcelo’s runs down the flanks add an extra attacking threat for both club and country and with an eye for goal as well, he is one of the most dangerous full-backs in the world.
Centre-midfield: Andres Iniesta | Market Value: £61.5m
Andres Iniesta has won all there is to win at both club and international level, as well as scoring the winner in the 2010 World Cup final. A large part of Spain’s and Barcelona’s - not to mention Lionel Messi’s - success over the last five years has been down to the ingenuity of Iniesta, who is one of the most delightful players in world football.
Centre-midfield: David Silva | Market Value: £38.5m
David Silva lit up the Premier League last season and was key to Manchester City's title success. His game-reading ability and incisive passing led to him providing the most assists (15) in the league; he was also named in the PFA Team of the Year.
Centre-midfield: Cesc Fabregas | Market Value: £48.5m
Since making his debut for Arsenal aged just sixteen, Cesc Fabregas has displayed maturity that belied both his age and experience. Whilst possessing an innate understanding of timing and space, he is yet to establish himself fully as a first-team player at Barcelona or with Spain, but without question has the ability to perform at the highest level.
Right-wing: Lionel Messi | Market Value: £105m
Lionel Messi has not only won the Ballon d’Or for four successive years but also holds the record for most goals scored in a calendar year (91). Is he the greatest of all time? Maybe. Is he the best of his generation? Undoubtedly.
Centre-forward: Wayne Rooney | Market Value: £57m
After breaking onto the scene as a 16-year-old with a career-forging stunner against Arsenal, Wayne Rooney has become a truly world-class forward. Whilst he has been criticised by some for not quite reaching the same heights for England as he does for Manchester United, he is now the country’s fifth highest goalscorer of all time.
Left-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo | Market Value: £88m
A showboating genius who is the last player to win the Ballon d’Or before the Messi years, Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring record over the last few seasons has been second to just one. He inspired Real Madrid to their triumph in the league and is looking to lead them to their tenth European Cup. Ronaldo is a marvel worthy of gracing any era.
Left-wing: Gareth Bale | Market Value: £37m
Centre-forward: Robin van Persie | Market Value: £39.5m
Centre-forward: Sergio Aguero | Market Value: £39.5m
Centre-forward: Edinson Cavani | Market Value: £39.5m
Centre-forward: Neymar | Market Value: £44m
Centre-forward: Radamel Falcao | Market Value: £53m
So, what do you think? Are these players worthy of their value?
Have your say below and follow me on twitter: @RiderDWC
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