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Wednesday 13 December 2017

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1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) -- £80m

The world's most expensive player will be captaining Portugal at this summer's tournament.

Real Madrid took him off Manchester United's hands in the summer of 2009 for an eye-watering £80m.

Incredibly, three years down the line it looks like money well spent, with CR7 rivalling Lionel Messi for the mantle of world's best player.

The first of three Real Madrid players on this list, his contribution was the greatest as Jose Mourinho's team regained La Liga from Barcelona's clutches this season.

2. Fernando Torres (Spain) -- £50m

Money not so well spent, at least not so far anyway. In a huge deal on transfer deadline day in January last year, El Nino exited Liverpool for Stamford Bridge.

But the Spaniard has failed to live up to his billing, scoring just 12 times in all competitions. The former Atletico Madrid striker was one of the stars of Euro 2008, and will be hoping that this summer's competition can revive his fortunes.

3. Andy Carroll (England) -- £35m

Despite the big Geordie's massive price tag, his inclusion in Roy Hodgson's England squad raised a few eyebrows.

That tells you much of the story. Since joining Liverpool from Newcastle (to replace the departed Torres) Carroll has looked like a player with the weight of £35m worth of expectation on his shoulders. Carroll has one goal in three caps for England.

4. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) -- £32.6m

Even at 34 years old, Gianluigi Buffon remains the first-choice goalkeeper for Italy, and continues to show why he's rated among the greatest goalkeepers of all time, conceding just twice during Italy's qualification campaign for Euro 2012.

His transfer fee for in excess of £32m is all the more remarkable considering Juventus paid Parma the sum all the way back in 2001.

5. Xabi Alonso (Spain) -- £31m

Another player who's helped propel Real Madrid back to glory, where his commanding central midfield play has been the backbone of Mourinho's team.

He's also a player that at time suffers from the stronghold Barcelona duo Andre Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez have over Spain's central midfield.

For any other nation he'd be among the first names on the team-sheet; as it is, he isn't. But the former Liverpool midfielder can expect to play some part.

6. Karim Benzema (France) -- £31m

The Frenchman was signed in the same summer as Ronaldo and Kaka as Real Madrid flexed their muscles and sent out a message to the football world.

Since joining from Lyon, Benzema has improved year-on-year, scoring more goals each season, with an impressive 21 in the league this term.

On the international front, he has 13 goals in 42 caps.

7. ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO (UKRAINE) -- £30.8m

Ukrainian legend Shevchenko joined Chelsea in 2006 from AC Milan in a £30.8m deal at the behest of his close friend Roman Abramovich. The move, however, didn't work out and he was loaned back to Milan three years later. He is now back with Dynamo Kiev and wants to finish his international career on a high by winning the European Championships.

8. Cesc Fabregas (Spain) -- £30m

Spain really do have a lot of talent in central midfield. Like Alonso, Fabregas is another who suffers from the quality at Del Bosque's disposal.

Yet the 25-year-old has managed to play a key role for the reigning European and World champions.

He was named in the team-of-the-tournament for Euro 2008 and set up the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final.

He joined Barcelona last summer from Arsenal in one of the most drawn out transfer sagas of modern times.

9. Mario Gomez (Germany) -- £30m

The striker joined Bayern Munich from Stuttgart in 2009 and after settling in his first season, has become prolific for the German giants.

In the season just gone, he scored 26 league goals and 12 in the Champions League.

Germany will be hoping he can continue in his rich vein of form this summer having failed to live up to expectations at previous international tournaments.

10. Wayne Rooney (England) -- £26.5m

England's best player was snapped up by Manchester United after his swashbuckling displays at Euro 2004. The then 18-year-old looked like he might just carry England all the way to the trophy before he picked up an injury in the match against Portugal, and England were dumped out. At club level, he's been nothing short of sensational over the intervening eight years. The same can't really be said for England, where he's failed to deliver on the big occasions. He'll miss the first two games through suspension.

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