- C. Ronaldo, Madrid
Age: 32 years
Current team: Real Madrid
Current salary: 21 million euros
Total profits with advertising contracts: 80 million euros
Main features: Air duels, dribbles, free dribbling, and game creativity.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been known worldwide for several years as the best player in the world. He is a true ambassador of Portugal, taking the good image of the country to the international boxes and frequently involving himself in philanthropic causes in his country of origin. But he also knows how to promote himself and earn money with his own image like no other: he created the CR7 brand, with which he sells clothes lines, owns hotel chains, technological products and even has an airport with his name (Madeira airport), which says a lot about the recognition and love of this player in his own country.
Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, in the city of São Pedro, belonging to the island of Funchal. He was the youngest son of a large family with six members. He started playing soccer at age 6 at a local club called Andorinha fc, later leaving for Madeira National. In 1997, when he was 12 years old, he had the opportunity to travel to mainland Portugal to make an entrance test for new players with one of the “Big Three” Portuguese teams, sporting. There he succeeded and joined the training schools of Sporting. From there, he began a 4-year road of rapid growth and great development of his football skills.
At the age of 16 he entered the youth team of Sporting, but his qualities were evident and too good for a team with the purpose of discovering new talents. So in the same year the youth team changed for the reserve team of Sporting B, being finally called by the first Sporting team. Two years later, at 18, after having made a dream presentation to Manchester United, the team coach at that time decided to buy the player’s pass to the English team for the highest value that had been paid by a player of that age (about 14 million euros).
His time at Manchester United, where he was for six years, was absolutely decisive for the development of Ronaldo as a player and to devote himself to the international scene. During this period he makes spectacular goals, develops his identity as a player and is confirmed as one of the most agile and creative players in the field, able not only to circulate the ball and win direct confrontations, but also to demonstrate efficiency at the time to score goals.
His transfer to Real Madrid was a real event, occurred in 2009 with a value never before seen in the transfer market (94 million euros). His story of great player continues today, adding more awards and goals than all other players of his generation. And although today is a mature player, we do not stop observing him in the field with the same passion as at the beginning. Ronaldo continues to excel in every game, with the same passion and dedication as always. Maybe that’s why, year after year, he’s considered “the best player in the world”. He recently won his 5th gold ball.
- Hulk, Shanghai SIPG
Name: Givanildo Vieira de Souza (Hulk)
Age: 31 years
Current team: Shanghai SPG
Current salary: 20 million euros
Total profits with advertising contracts: 5 million euros
Main features: Power, far shot, speed, strength
Givanildo Vieira de Souza, better known as “Hulk” for his physical appearance, is a 31-year-old Brazilian forward born in Campina Grande (Brazil), who after playing professional soccer in his country with the Esporte Clube Vitoria, passed by several teams from Japan until arriving at Tokyo Verdy, where he was the top scorer of the season with 37 goals in 42 games and attracted the eyes of FC Porto of Portugal, who took his services in exchange for a transfer of 5, 5 million euros.
As the season progresses during the year 2010, Hulk demonstrates a great performance and takes a fixed place in the teams eleven. Due to this, FC Porto decides to increase its rescission clause to 100 million euros. During the 2011 campaign, Hulk astonishes everyone with his physical strength and the great facility he has to score goals in all matches. That same year, he managed to win the treble thanks to the titles of the Portuguese League, the Portuguese Cup and the UEFA Europa League, finishing the season with 36 goals in 53 official matches.
His time in Portugal is still successful when he won the National League again. At that time, Hulk was already in the crosshairs of more powerful teams across Europe, until finally, in the 2012/2013 season, he signed for Zenit St. Petersburg in exchange for 60 million euros, where he scored a total of 77 goals in 147 games. Two years later, in 2016, the transfer of the Hulk to the Shanghai SIPG for 55 million euros became official, which at that time was the most expensive signing in the history of the Chinese League.
- Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 19 years
Current team: PSG
Current salary: 18 million euros
Total profits with advertising contracts: 10 million euros
Main characteristics: Speed, `power, dribbles, creativity of game, last pass, goals.
The young French striker Kylian Mbappe rose to fame in 2107 after a great season with his former club, AS Monaco, where he managed to win the League 1 of France and managed to reach the semifinal tie in a competition as well known as the Champions League, the most important tournament of clubs at European level.
Mbappe was born in Bondy, a neighborhood located in the north of Paris. There, his father worked as a coach in the regional team AS Bondy. Due to the great potential he showed since he was a child, he quickly became part of Clairefontaine, the center of the French national football association specialized in the training of French youngsters. There, the young attacker continued to demonstrate his level and was even invited by Real Madrid when he was 14 years old to spend a few days in Valdebebas (training center of the Spanish club), until AS Monaco noticed him and signed him at the year 2013.
After his arrival in Monaco, it quickly became clear that Kylian Mbappe was ready to play with the first team, and it was with 16 years (2015) when he became the youngest player in history to debut with the first team of Monaco, breaking the record that at the time had Thierry Henry. Little bit time later, Mbappe scored his first goal, became the youngest player to score in the history of Monaco and was also the youngest player to reach 13 goals in League 1. His great performances led him to sign a contract with his club until 2019, when he was also a frequent player in the lower categories of the French national football team.
After winning the French League with Monaco in 2017 (the club had not won this competition for 17 years), having a great performance in the Champions League reaching the semifinals and being summoned by the French national team, some of the Europe’s biggest teams were interested in what was already the most promising player in Europe, until in the summer of 2017 it became official the transfer of Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain with a compulsory purchase option of 180 million euros that the Paris club will have to pay at the end of the season 17-18. Mbappe thus became the second most expensive transfer in the history of football, only surpassed by the transfer of Brazilian Neymar from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (220 million euros).
- Paul Pogba, Manchester United
Name: Paul Pogba
Age: 24 years
Current team: Manchester United
Current salary: 17.5 million euros
Total profits with advertising contracts: 18.2 million euros
Main features: aerial duels, long distance auctions
Paul Pogba is only 24 years old, but he is already considered one of the most established and well-established names in world football, partly due to his consistency as a player and his strong personality, which led him to occupy the position of team captain and a reference player from the beginning of his career.
In fact, it was at age six when Pogba started playing near his hometown, at a club called US Roissy-en-Brie. After seven years of training, he joined US Torcy, where he became team captain for the first time at age 13. After a year, he was captured for professional football and started playing at Le Havre, where he also quickly took the captain’s armband in the U-16 team.
Its assessment phase in competitive football markets is largely thanks to Manchester United, which in 2009 captures the Le Havre player and gives him the opportunity to develop professionally in one of the most competitive leagues of world football, the English league. But his world-wide recognition and his consolidated fame really arrives with his passage by Juventus between 2012-2014, period during which he gained the distinction of “Golden Boy” for being the best young player in European competitions.
In 2016 there is another turn in Paul Pogba’s ever-rising career, with the purchase of the player’s pass by Manchester United to Juventus – at that time it was the most valuable transfer ever, with a value of 105 million euros plus 5 million in bonus.
- Graziano Pelle, Shandong Luneng
Name: Graziano Pelle
Age: 32 years
Current team: Shandong Luneng
Current salary: 17 million euros
Total profits with advertising contracts: 2 million euros
Main features: Final shots, head shots, physical power
The beginnings of the career of Pelle begin in the lower categories of the US Lecce, in Italy, there he wins his first tournaments as a youth player. Later, Pelle goes on loan to other second category teams such as FC Crotone without much luck, until he reaches AC Cesena and has a remarkable performance, which leads him to be called by the national team of Italy for first time to play the U21 European Championship in the year 2007.
In that same year, Pelle is contracted by the AZ Alkmaar of Holland, and after a season without excessive fortune, returns to Italy to form part of the staff of Parma, that later would yield it to Sampdoria, equipment that at that moment was disputing the second Italian division. The following year, Pelle returns to the Netherlands to play at Feyenoord on loan, where he manages to make a good campaign (55 goals between 2012-2014). This performance led him to sign for England Southampton in 2014, year in which he also made his debut with the Italian national team in a qualifying match for the European Championship against Malta where Pelle scored the winning goal.
In the English team, Pelle plays 81 games and scores a total of 30 goals during the two seasons he is part of the team until 2016. In this year, Pelle is one of the best players of the Italian national team during the Euro 2016 in France and draws the attention of Shandong Luneng, team of the Chinese Super League (CSL). Subsequently, the Southampton announced the sale of the player to Shandong in exchange for 15 million euros and a millionaire contract that made him become the highest paid Italian player in history.