Ronaldinho & Thierry Henry: The 25 most valuable footballers in 2006

Back in 2006, the footballing landscape was very different.

Fourteen years ago, the idea of paying £50m for a footballer was scarcely believable and fees of that size were reserved for the best of the best.

Nowadays, £50m fees have become the norm and the current world record transfer stands at £198m, which PSG forked out for Neymar in the summer of 2017.

Due to such enormous inflation, top footballers are currently valued at ludicrous prices. Neymar’s PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe is currently top of the pile with a valuation of €200m.

That was not the case in 2006. The most valuable player in world football at that time was ex-Barcelona superstar Ronaldinho at €70m, less than half that of Mbappe in the modern day.

Thanks to Transfermarkt, we can take a trip back in time and look at the 25 most valuable footballers from the year when Ronaldinho reigned supreme.

It’s essentially wall-to-wall legends, with the occasional surprise name thrown in for good measure!

25. Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus) – €28m

The Italian stalwart was the most valuable full-back in the world back in 2006.

24. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Juventus) – €28m

Safe to say Ibrahimovic went on to increase his valuation throughout his career.

23. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona) – €28m

The iconic midfielder was a few years away from his peak in 2006.

22. David Beckham (Real Madrid) – €28m

One of five Englishmen on the list – and one of three from Real Madrid.

21. David Trezeguet (Juventus) – €30m

A world-class striker, that’s all you need to know.

20. Miroslav Klose (Werder Bremen) – €30m

Germany’s World Cup goal scoring machine was the most valuable player in the Bundesliga in 2006. Not a single Bayern Munich player makes the cut!

19. John Terry (Chelsea) – €30m

Terry was the second most valuable defender in the world at the time.

18. Alberto Gilardino (AC Milan) – €30m

A rather surprising name to see on the list, but Gilardino was a bloody good striker in his pomp.

17. Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan) – €32m

The most valuable defender in the world in 2006 and an absolute legend of the game.

16. Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – €33m

By the time 2006 rolled around, Ronaldo was approaching his twilight years. He was still one of the best around, mind…

15. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – €34m

The Reds’ inspirational captain boasted a muscular valuation after his heroics in the 2005 Champions League final.

14. Kaka (AC Milan) – €35m

These valuations were just before the Brazilian went on to establish himself as the best player in the world.

13. Adriano (Inter Milan) – €35m

Brazil’s PES legend! A footballer adored by literally everyone and it’s such a shame that he never fulfilled all of his potential.

12. Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan) – €35m

Despite approaching his decline in 2006, Vieira was still one of the best midfielders in the world.

11. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) – €35m

Unsurprisingly, the only goalkeeper to make the top 25.

10. Michael Ballack (Chelsea) – €35m

The German had just completed a free transfer to the Blues and was comfortably one of the best players in the world.

9. Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) – €36m

He was always going to feature, wasn’t he?

8. Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid) – €36m

Surprisingly Real’s most valuable player in 2006. He did score a shed load of goals for Los Blancos, though.

7. Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona) – €36m

Probably the best out-and-out striker in world football in 2006, a truly iconic figure.

6. Michael Essien (Chelsea) – €36.5m

That’s right, another Chelsea player! But what a player Essien was in his prime.

5. Francesco Totti (AS Roma) – €37m

It’s still amazing that the fifth most valuable player in 2006 never left Rome during his career!

4. Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – €38.5m

Ahead of Gerrard and the most valuable Englishman on the list. Lampard was simply on another level in 2006.

3. Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – €50m

Va Va Voom. Imagine snapping up a player as good as Henry for €50m in the modern era…

2. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea) – €51m

Sadly, this valuation was mainly down to the Ukrainian’s brilliance at Milan before his move to Chelsea. With the Blues, he looked a €10m striker at best.

1. Ronaldinho (Barcelona) – €70m

Comfortably the best player in the world at the time and one of the greatest to ever kick a ball.

So there you have it. Chelsea are the most represented club on the list with five players making the cut, while Juventus are second with four.

The only major European league to miss out on the top 25 is Ligue 1.

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