Join @SamRCox_ as he looks at EVERY nation competing at the 2022 World Cup to find the respective players with the highest transfer market values...


Not only is the World Cup a chance to gorge on football, it is an opportunity to see the world’s best in action, going head-to-head for the sport’s ultimate prize.

Also, each World Cup is a window for other players to step into the spotlight, for lesser-known names to swing World Cup odds, potentially altering their careers. 

The pre-tournament betting favourites are stacked with worldwide stars – some of the names featuring in this list are predictable, but others will raise eyebrows.

Certain countries have a surprise name in top spot, while the smaller nations are represented by players who the majority will not have heard of. All fees are courtesy of Transfermarkt and were converted to GBP on October 3rd 2022.


Qatar – Akram Afif, £5.36 million

Only two other World Cup nations have a highest player market value of lower than Akram Afif’s mark of £5.36 million. Afif, who has amassed 85 caps for the tournament hosts since 2015, has 25 goals for his country. 

He began his senior career in Europe with Eupen before joining Villarreal and then Sporting Gijon on loan. Afif returned to Qatar in 2018, however, staying with Al Sadd on loan until he made the move permanent in 2020.

A three-time winner of the Qatari Stars League and Asian Footballer of the Year in 2019, Afif must be at his best if the host nation are to go defy the sports betting odds and make it out of the group.


Ecuador – Moisés Caicedo, £24.34 million

Signed by Brighton from Independiente del Valle for around £4 million in 2021, Moisés Caicedo turns 21 just a couple of weeks before the World Cup gets underway. 

Caicedo already has 25 Ecuador caps to his name, and the central midfielder has become a key player for Brighton after spending last season on loan with Beerschot.

Ecuador are taking a young squad to the World Cup. A lack of experience could be an issue, but there is real upside, and they will fancy their chances in Group A.


Senegal – Sadio Mane, £58.43 million

Scorer of the penalty which confirmed Senegal’s place at the World Cup, Sadio Mane is the nation’s highest-value player at just shy of £60 million.

This is despite Mane moving for around £30 million to Bayern Munich in the summer transfer window – Mane is followed by Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly in the market value rankings.

Clearly Senegal’s biggest star, Mane is bound to attract some support in Golden Boot betting odds. He’s currently 66/1 to finish as top scorer, a longer price than Darwin Nunez, Roberto Firmino and Timo Werner.


Netherlands – Matthijs de Ligt, £68.16 million

Apparently worth more than Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong and Ryan Gravenberch, Matthijs de Ligt comes in as the Netherlands’ most expensive player ahead of the 2022 World Cup. 

Like Mane, de Ligt swapped one European superpower for another in the summer, signing for Bayern from Juventus for a fee just below £70 million.

Still only 23 years old, de Ligt could play in the next three World Cups after Qatar. His age is major factor in having such a high market value.


England – Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, £87.64 million

It’s a three-way tie among English players. Harry Kane is 29, perhaps at the tail-end of his prime, yet has retained serious transfer value thanks to his lengthy track record of production at both domestic and national level.

Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham are already Champions League calibre players, but this value is largely in their potential. 

Foden is 22; Bellingham is 19. This duo are the future of the England team, and their form will have a significant sway on how England are viewed by football prediction experts in Qatar and beyond. 

Four other England players – Mason Mount, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jadon Sancho, Declan Rice – are valued at over £70 million. Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish rank just behind that quartet to round out the top 10.


Iran – Mehdi Taremi, £19.48 million

No team has longer World Cup odds than Iran’s 500/1. It will be a major live betting upset if they register points against the USA, Wales or England. One player they are dependent on is Porto striker Mehdi Taremi.

Only a handful of Iranian players feature in the top European leagues, and Taremi is one of them, along with Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos, Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun and Feyenoord’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh.


USA – Christian Pulisic, £40.9 million

There are high hopes for the USA at this World Cup, but Christian Pulisic’s form and gametime is a major concern.

Pulisic has been outspoken about his fractured relationship with former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, and it remains to be seen how Graham Potter utilises the former Dortmund winger.

USMNT fans will be desperate to see Pulisic feature frequently in Chelsea betting tips in the build up to the World Cup. After impressing in the second half of 2020, his career has stalled due to injuries and inconsistency.


Wales – Ben Davies, £19.48 million

For a long period, Gareth Bale would have been top of the market value chart among Welsh players. Ben Davies has taken Bale’s slot with the ex-Real Madrid forward now plying his trade in MLS. 

Davies has 74 caps over the last decade, having established himself as a reliable performer for club and country.

A regular at Spurs, his experience will be invaluable as the Dragons look to pip the US to the second qualifying spot in Group B.


Argentina – Lautaro Martinez, £72.03 million

Age matters when it comes to market value. Lionel Messi is joint-third, behind Cristian Romero as well as Lautaro Martinez.

Despite plenty of rumours throughout the summer, Martinez has remained with Inter, and The Bull will have a major role to play for the Argentines in Qatar.

He has an excellent record of 21 goals in 40 for La Albiceleste – will he follow in the footsteps of Mario Kempes and Guillermo Stábile and become the third Argentine to win the World Cup Golden Boot?


Saudi Arabia – Sultan Al-Ghannam, £3.39 million

With a squad exclusively playing in the Saudi Pro League, it’s not a surprise that Saudi Arabia has the lowest market value on this list.

Sultan Al-Ghannam comes in at under £3.4 million – the right-back for Al-Nassr has 23 caps and no goals to his name.

Including Qatar, Saudi Arabia have qualified for six of the last eight World Cups. Their victory in Russia was their first World Cup win since 1994, though, and they have their work cut out in a tricky Group C.


Mexico – Hirving Lozano, Edson Alvarez, £29.21 million

Are Mexico being underrated? They are 4/1 to win Group C, and while they don’t have the star power of Poland, this is a squad with plenty of quality players.

Projected transfer values point to Napoli’s Hirving Lozano and Ajax’s Edson Alvarez as the best of the bunch. 

Alvarez, linked with Chelsea on transfer deadline day, is the less eye-catching of the two. Lozano is a rapid winger who will torment opponents on the break.

You have to go all the way back to 1990 for the last time Mexico didn’t reach the last 16 of a World Cup (and even that was because they were banned).


Poland – Robert Lewandowski, £43.82 million

Named the Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2020 and 2021, Robert Lewandowski continues to score at a prolific rate for club and country.

He has started his Barcelona career in fine form, and carries Poland’s hopes at the World Cup, as the Biało-czerwoni aim to make the last 16 for the first time since 1986. 

Only 10 players have scored more international goals than Lewandowski. He could climb into the top seven by Christmas if he has a productive time in Qatar.


France – Kylian Mbappe, £155.8 million

Transfermarkt has Kylian Mbappe as the most valuable player in world football.

Already a World Cup winner and Ballon d’Or candidate, it’s hard to argue with that assessment. Mbappe has 28 goals in just 59 international caps, and he doesn’t turn 24 until two days after the World Cup final. 

There is a debate to be had about the best player in the world heading into this winter’s tournament, but there’s no question Mbappe is in the conversation.

He has scored at just under a goal per game over the last four seasons, and we’ve already seen him deliver on the biggest stage.


Australia – Aaron Mooy, Matt Ryan, Harry Souttar, £4.87 million

There’s another three-way tie at the top here between Celtic’s Aaron Mooy, Copenhagen’s Matt Ryan and Stoke City’s Harry Souttar.

The Australians aren’t given much of a chance as the rank outsiders in Group D, and they are a non-factor when it comes to pre-tournament power rankings

Ryan and Mooy are recognisable names for Premier League followers, while Souttar is still at the beginning of his career at the top level. The 23-year-old has played just 54 times for Stoke and has only collected 10 caps for the Socceroos.


Denmark – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, £40.9 million

Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has comfortably the highest market value among Danes, a few million ahead of Andreas Christensen and Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen.

Højbjerg splits opinion between Spurs fans, but he has generally been a consistent performer since his move from Southampton in 2020.

Denmark have failed to qualify for two of the last four World Cups, though they have performed well over the last couple of years and firmly fit the dark horse mould.


Tunisia – Ellyes Skhiri, £12.66 million

Ellyes Skhiri, a midfielder for Bundesliga side Koln, was born in France and began his club career with Montpellier, but opted to represent Tunisia, debuting for the Eagles of Carthage in 2018. 

Quarter-finalists at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Tunisia have some tournament experience in their favour, but they have never made it out of the first round at the World Cup.

Their win in 2018 was their first World Cup victory since 1978.


Spain – Pedri, £87.64 million

The future of Spain and Barcelona, Pedri doesn’t turn 20 until a few days into the World Cup and he’s already an integral cog in this Spain side.

Slight and standing at 5’9, Pedri is the latest in a long line of undersized Barcelona stars who compensate for their smaller stature with supreme technical and tactical ability.

Don’t be fooled, though, Pedri is quick to accelerate too and possesses balletic agility to evade defenders. In truth, this market value seems on the low side – his release clause is around £900 million.


Costa Rica – Keylor Navas, £5.84 million

Turning 36 before the end of the year and out of favour at PSG, Keylor Navas is somehow still the highest valued Costa Rican player according to transfermarkt.

Navas starred at the 2014 World Cup, pulling off a catalogue of impressive saves, and has 107 caps to his name.

Long thought of as one of the best goalkeepers on the planet, Navas’ prime years are behind him at this stage. Costa Rica are rank outsiders to progress from the first round, priced way out at 55/1 to win Group E.


Germany – Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala, £77.9 million

Two Bayern Munich players share top spot. Joshua Kimmich is in his peak years, aged 27 and a vital member of his teams at club and international level.

Jamal Musiala, much like Jadon Sancho, backed himself by moving to the Bundesliga, and switched allegiance from England to Germany in 2021. 

Just 19 years old, Musiala is one of the most exciting teenage footballers in the world, and the former Chelsea academy player has collected 17 Germany caps already.

Kimmich, in comparison, is a grizzled veteran, having featured in the last two Euros and the 2018 World Cup. 

Bookies narrowly favour Spain over Germany in Group E -- their group stage clash is one of the key dates at the World Cup.


Japan – Takehiro Tomiyasu, £21.42 million

Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu has the highest projected market value of any Japanese player.

Tomiyasu moved to north London for under £17 million, however, and has looked worth every penny. He will be 24 by the time the World Cup gets underway, surely with his best years ahead of him. 

Unfortunate to be drawn alongside Spain and Germany, it will take something special for Japan to match their last 16 appearance from Russia. This is their seventh consecutive World Cup qualification.


Belgium – Kevin De Bruyne, £82.77 million

Who else? Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard have all moved for mega transfer fees, but Kevin De Bruyne was always going to be number one here.

The Manchester City midfielder has been the best player at his position for the last few years, and continues to excel in Pep Guardiola’s winning machine.

Even at 31, there are no signs of decline from the former Chelsea midfielder. De Bruyne is a masterful passer, smart presser, and owner of a potent shot from range.

Whether drifting into wide areas for pick out a pinpoint cross or dictating from central positions, De Bruyne is set to shine in Qatar. Will this Golden Generation finally deliver?


Canada – Alphonso Davies, £68.16 million

Erupting onto the Bundesliga predictions scene as a teenager, Alphonso Davies is still only 22 years old.

For Bayern, he is a marauding full-back, using his road runner pace to stretch the pitch. For Canada, he is a forward, pairing with Jonathan David and Cyle Larin to torment defences. Davies has 12 goals in just 34 international appearances. 

The former Whitecaps star has the weight of a nation on his shoulders in Qatar. Canada are an entertaining team to watch, and they have a real chance of making it out of the group, but Davies will need to be in top form.


Morocco – Achraf Hakimi, £63.3 million

Achraf Hakimi is perhaps the biggest name in Morocco’s squad, but this team has been more than the sum of its parts in recent years, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in each of the last two editions.

Hakimi has big-game experience with PSG and Borussia Dortmund, and his market value is set to increase further in the next year or two.

Morocco’s chances at the World Cup could depend on the performances of Chelsea attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, who has had a turbulent relationship with the national team to say the least.


Croatia – Josko Gvardiol, £58.43 million

Runners-up at the 2018 World Cup, Croatia have seen a changing of the guard with several veterans retiring over the last few years.

Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric and Domagoj Vida remain available heading into the 2022 tournament, but it is Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol who has the highest market value.

A 20-year-old defender capable of playing in the middle or on the left-hand side, Gvardiol was linked heavily with Leeds in the 2021 summer transfer window and was subject of a bid from Chelsea in 2022.


Brazil – Vinicius Junior, £116.85 million

Only Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have a higher market value than Vinicius Junior. There’s good reason for that.

The sky is the limit for the dazzling Brazilian – he has only made 16 appearances for Brazil so far, but was sensational in Real Madrid’s run to the 2022 Champions League title, forming a symbiotic partnership with Karim Benzema.

Of course, Brazil aren’t short on high-cost players. Neymar, Antony, Marquinhos and Rodrygo are all valued at over £61 million. 

888Sport tab Brazil as the pre-tournament favourites at 4/1. Vinicius has already enjoyed a breakout season, but a big World Cup would take him to another level.


Serbia – Dušan Vlahović, £82.77 million

Signed by Juventus for around £60 million in January 2022, Dušan Vlahović’s international career is in its infancy, but he was quick to make an impact for Serbia, scoring eight times in his first 16 caps.

Vlahović is one option in a talented Serbian squad, including Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ajax’s Dusan Tadic.

Age, again, is what really elevates Vlahović’s value. His goal scoring record is impressive, but he’s been an elite player for a short period of time.

This figure is largely down to the Belgrade native being 22 years old – he should have a decade-plus left at the very top.


Switzerland – Manuel Akanji, £29.21 million

Manchester City new boy Manuel Akanji has the highest transfer value among Swiss players, just ahead of Chelsea summer signing Denis Zakaria and Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka.

Akanji has made 41 appearances for the Rossocrociati, who are the betting favourites to join Brazil in the last 16. 

The Swiss have reached the first knockout phase in each of the last two World Cups, but you have to go all the way back to 1954 for the last time they played in a World Cup quarter-final.

The calendar year started poorly for Switzerland, with a five-match winless run. They improved in September’s international break, recording wins over Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic.


Cameroon – Frank Anguissa, £29.21 million

Former Fulham midfielder Frank Anguissa has flourished with Napoli, and will have a key role for Cameroon at the 2022 World Cup. 

Les Lions Indomptables finished third at the latest edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, but history isn’t on their side in the World Cup. Cameroon haven’t made it out of a World Cup group since 1990.

This is a tricky group – they have the weakest squad on paper, and need their big names to impress.


Portugal – Bruno Fernandes, £82.77 million

The three highest-valued players in the Portugal squad are based in Manchester. Bruno Fernandes pips Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias with the latter just ahead of Rafael Leao and Joao Felix.

Portugal are blessed with an array of attacking talent, and Fernandes is probably the most secure of a starting berth. 

Their group doesn’t have a proper weak link, but they were fortunate to avoid any of the other tournament favourites. They are 21/10 to reach the last four.


Ghana – Thomas Partey, £37 million

Quarter-finalists in 2010, Ghana are in a lull at the moment. They failed to qualify in 2018, and exited at the group stage of the most recent Africa Cup of Nations.

A squad which was once littered with talent thriving in Europe’s top leagues is still heavily reliant on the Ayews. 

Only five teams have a longer price to reach the quarter final. Ghana might play spoiler, but it’s hard to see them competing for qualification.


Uruguay – Federico Valverde, £77.9 million

A lot of attention will be on the ageing spine of this Uruguay team, but La Celeste see those veterans supplemented by fresh talent from Darwin Nunez and Rodrigo Bentancur to Federico Valverde and Matias Vina.

Valverde has become a regular at Real Madrid since the last World Cup, excelling in various different roles and collecting experience in the Champions League.

Plenty will be interested in Uruguay at 21/10 to win Group H.


South Korea – Heung-min Son, £73.03 million

South Korea have the biggest gap between their highest-value player and second place. Heung-min Son is worth exactly three times Min-jae Kim of Napoli.

Winner of the Premier League Golden Boot last season, Son has 35 goals for South Korea and will give his team a chance of snatching a victory in the group stage.

Eliminated in the first round in each of the last two World Cups and only quarter-finalists at the 2019 Asian Cup, it will take something miraculous for South Korea to make it into the knockouts.


*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 5th October 2022

About the Author
By
Sam Cox

Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.