When England took to the field on Monday night against Tunisia, it was unquestionably their most expensive World Cup side ever.
Transfer fees have changed drastically over the years – with the £53m spent on defender Kyle Walker by Manchester City last year about par for the course.
It’s a long way from the £21k spent on England star Alf Ramsay in 1950 – a player who played in the same position as Walker, but was worth over 2,500 times less.
However, while puny now, Ramsay’s £21k fee was outrageous at the time – coming in nearly nine times the average English top-flight transfer fee at the time of £2,340. Considering the average player nowadays is worth £12.7m – the fee spent by Tottenham would be the equivalent of £113.3m in today’s market.
But what of England’s other World Cup stars through history – who was worth the most, and how much would they be worth now?
Well – counting in at an incredible 21.37 times the average transfer fee in 1956 is an England playing, and managerial legend – featuring on the pitch in 1958, and on the bench in 1986 and 1990.
Sir Bobby Robson’s move from Fulham to West Bromwich Albion back in the 50s was £25k – common-place now, but eye-watering back then.
Though it wasn’t quite a world record back then (that belonged to Enrique Omar Sivori, who cost Juventus £93k from River Plate), it would be one now, with Sir Bobby costing the equivalent of £269.9m – smashing Neymar’s current high of £200m.
At second place on the list was another footballing knight – Sir Stanley Matthews.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, Matthews’ move from Stoke to Blackpool in 1947 (£11.5k back then), would be worth £260.0m now. Even in today’s inflated market, few who saw him play would argue he wouldn’t be worth that kind of money…
Continuing the list are a couple of foreign exports – Chris Waddle, who moved to Marseille for £4.5m in 1989, and Ray Wilkins, who moved to AC Milan in 1984 for £1.5m.
In today’s market, the pair would be worth £183.9m and £170.3m respectively.
Completing the top 10 are Rio Ferdinand (equivalent of £151.6m today), Alan Shearer (£135.8m), Allan Clarke (£135.4m), Bill McGarry (£134.7m), David Beckham (£130.8m) and Wayne Rooney (£119.4m) respectively.
Interestingly, despite his £15m fee in 1996 breaking the world transfer record, Shearer’s fee is only enough for him to earn sixth place on our list.
It’s also worth noting that none of the players in the top 10 were members of England’s World Cup winning squad in 1966.
Instead, the highest placed player from that side is Jimmy Greaves – who sits in 18th, after his £99,999 move from AC Milan to Tottenham is updated to £86.6m today.
So if that’s how much English World Cup legends would be worth now – how much would world transfer record holder Neymar be worth at each World Cup?
Considering Neymar’s £200m fee is worth 15.84 times the average player today, we worked out how much 15.84 times the average player at each World Cup since 1950 would be worth.
And as you can see – for a long time, he wouldn’t have been worth much at all.
Costing just £26.7k in 1950 (only just ahead of Alf Ramsey), the Brazilian would have first broken through the £100k mark by the 1962 World Cup – being worth £117.3k.
The £500k mark fell by 1970 (£520.8k), while he would have first been worth over a million by 1986 – coming in at £2.0m.
However, as the 90s progressed, and money began to flood into football, then his worth would have started to sky rocket.
Jumping from £3.8m in 1990 to £16m in 1994, that figure would have doubled to £32.8m by 1998.
A steady rise through the 00s would have seen him worth £70.2m in 2010 – but it’s only been over the last few years that the numbers have really risen.
While he would have been worth £101.3m by the last World Cup, the fact the average player is now worth double what they did four years ago means his transfer fee is through the roof.
With exorbitant transfer fees becoming more and more common, who knows how much that fee will have risen to by the 2022 World Cup – or even beyond.
Who knows – maybe by the time of the 2050 World Cup, even Kyle Walker’s £53m will look as small as Alf Ramsay’s fee does now…