Latin America’s Five Most Valuable Football Clubs

Maria Saldarriaga and Pedro MejiaTop Lists
Allianz Parque

An overhead look at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Palmeiras plays its home games. Editorial Credit: Mauricio Fernandes, Shutterstock.

Last month, one of the greatest and most renowned players in football history died. Diego Maradona’s death was mourned all over the world, reminding us that football — soccer to Americans — is more than just a sport. Originally from Argentina, Diego left his mark on the continent by showcasing an undeniable talent that ultimately led him to win the FIFA World Cup with Argentina in 1986, as well as multiple titles with Boca Juniors, Barcelona, and Italy’s Napoli, where he became a legend.

It's estimated that around four billion people, more than half of the world’s population, are football fans, thus making it the most popular sport in the world and a very lucrative industry. At the professional level, Europe, where the first Football clubs were created in the 15th century, is considered the epicenter for the elite of the sport. European countries have won the World Cup in eight of the last 10 editions of the tournament and the continent has the five most competitive leagues at the club level, where teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus play. These are some of the most valued and coveted clubs in the world and where only the most gifted and talented players from all corners of the planet play.

Dedicated athletes not only strive to be part of Europe's teams to play and compete with the best of the best, but also because of the massive financial boost. On average, European football wages compared with Latin America are around 1,700% higher. To put this into perspective, the average player from Brazil’s Series A, considered the best football league in South America by the IFFHS, earns an average of $4,719 a week, whereas players from the English Premier League, the best league in the world, average $81,980 a week.

Latin America, led by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia, is the region that exports most football players to Europe. Over 1,000 players from the region are playing overseas in 2020, of which 478 (43.8%) are now in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, with more than 75% playing in their top division leagues.

Still, top Latin American players tend to play in their home and neighboring countries at the beginnings of their career while working towards the ultimate goal of playing in Europe. The Org researched the five most valuable club teams in Latin America in 2020, where many of the region's best players are developing into stars.

Corinthians (Brazil): $582.3 million

Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, aka ‘El Timao,’ was founded in Sao Paulo in 1910 by five railway workers inspired by a London-based football club with the same name. The club is known for having the biggest fan base in LatAm, with an estimated 26 million supporters. It is also one of the most successful Brazilian clubs, having won seven national titles that include Copa do Brasil and Brazil’s League, and one Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious title in LatAm.

The Club’s main sponsors are:

  • Nike: They have outfitted the team since 2009 in a $9 million per year contract that runs until 2029.
  • Galera Group: One of the biggest gambling companies in Brazil, with a $7.5 million per year deal.
  • Hypera Pharma: A pharmaceutical company that negotiated a 20-year partnership for $59 million that included the renaming of the stadium to ‘Neo Química Arena.’

shutterstock 198492845

Neo Química Arena at the 2014 World Cup. Editorial Credit: Jefferson Bernardes, Shutterstock.

The most valuable players on the present squad are Luan ($6.5M), Éderson ($6M), and Lucas Piton ($6M). Corinthians greatest players of all time include Sócrates, Ronaldo Nazário, Dida, Javier Masherano, and Carlos Tévez, all of whom also played for Europe’s greatest clubs.

The organization has been run by Andrés Navarro Sanchez since 2018, in his second term as a president of the Club.

Palmeiras (Brazil): $525.1 million

Sport Society Palmeiras, aka ‘El Verdao,’ is another ‘Paulista’ (from Sao Paulo) Club founded by Italian immigrants in 1914. It has around 18 million supporters around Brazil and the rest of the world. ‘El Verdao’ holds the record for national titles, 10, in addition to three wins at the Copa do Brasil and one at the Copa Libertadores.

The two main sponsors of Palmeiras are Puma, who took over as its technical sponsor in 2019 in a closed deal; and Crefisa, a Brazilian bank that has a contract of $9 million per year with the Club. Since the inauguration of its new stadium in 2014, Allianz Parque, more than five million fans have attended El Verdao’s matches, reporting an approximate revenue of $61 million in tickets.

Palmeiras has the second-highest player payroll in Brazil with a valuation of $110 million. Gabriel Veron ($25M), Gabriel Menino ($10M) and Patrick de Paula ($9 M) are the team’s most expensive players. Former star players include Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Robinho, and Cafú.

The organization has been run by Mauricio Galiotte since 2016.

Palmeiras - Gabriel Veron

Palmeiras' highest-paid player, Gabriel Veron. Courtesy of Palmeiras.

Chivas (Mexico): $311.5 million

Sport Club Guadalajara, aka “Las Chivas,” was founded in 1906 by Edgar Everaert, a huge fan of the Belgian Club Brugge K.V., where he got inspiration for the characteristic vertical stripes and colour that have represented the team for more than a century.

It is the only football team from Guadalajara City that plays in the Mexican First Division and is the only football club in Mexico that doesn't allow foreign players to play for them. It possesses 12 League Titles and two CONCACAF Champions League wins.

Amaury Vergara, heir and largest shareholder of the Omnilife Group, owns and runs the sports club. The team has 13 commercial partners like Puma, Coca-Cola, Claro Sport, Tecate, Telcel, and Home Depot. Each sponsor represents around $10 million for the club per year.

Chivas - Amaury Vergara (crédito Pablo Saracho)

Chivas owner Amaury Vergara. Credit: Pablo Saracho

Chivas' most valued players are José Macias ($10M), Uriel Antuna ($4M), and Jesús Angulo (3.5M). Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United player, began his career in Las Chivas back in 2006.

Monterrey (Mexico): $311 million

Football Club Monterrey, aka “Los Rayados,” was conceived thanks to the passion of a group of industrial businessmen from Monterrey City in 1945, and is nowadays one of the two teams from the city that play in the Mexican First division. The other is Tigres UANL. Monterrey has won five League Titles and the CONCACAF Champions League four times.

“Los Rayados” hold the record for the most expensive stadium in Mexico’s history, BBVA Stadium. It opened in 2015 and took inspiration from London’s iconic Wembley stadium, finishing with a construction cost of $200 million. The club’s main sponsors are Puma, Tecate, BBVA, Fox Sports, and AT&T.

BBVA Stadium

BBVA Stadium. Editorial Credit: Ulrike Stein, Shutterstock.

Los Rayados’s squad is the most expensive of the Mexican Tournament ($81 million), which includes players like Maximiliano Meza ($7.5M), Carlos Rodriguez (7.5M), Rogelio Funes Mori ($6.5M), and Vincent Janssen ($6.5M).

The organization’s President has been José González Órnelas since 2012.

River Plate (Argentina): $270 millon

Athletic Club River Plate, aka “River,” was founded in 1901 and is named after the English name for the city's estuary, Río de la Plata, after the merger of two historic football clubs, "Santa Rosa" and "La Rosales." Today, River is LatAm’s football team with the most official members, a total of 154,000 that subscribe to a club membership. The world leader is Barcelona.

River Plate has the most domestic competition wins with 48 titles in the top division, including 38 League Titles and 12 Cup Titles. It also has four Copa Libertadores and one International Cup. The team has a bitter rivalry with Boca Junior, turning each encounter between these teams into the well-known ‘super classic’ of America.

River - Campeón Libertadores 2018

River Plate. after winning the Copa Libertadores in 2018. Courtesy of River Plate.

River Plate has a whopping 18 sponsors. Adidas has outfitted the Club since 1982 and represents $10 million per year for the club, while other notable companies include Turkish Airlines ($3-5M), Axion ($2M), and Assist Card ($500K).

The club also employs the most expensive squad in LatAm with a value of $151 million. It’s top three most valuable players are Nicolas de La Cruz ($12M), Santos Borré ($10M), and Cristian Ferreira ($9M). Former players include football legends like Alfredo Di Stéfano, Enzo Fransescoli, Hernán Crespo, Pablo Aimar, and Marcelo Gallardo.

The Club’s president is Rodolfo D'Onofrio, who is in his second term since first taking the job in 2017.

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