Most Valuable Player for Each of the Champions League Quarterfinalists
The Champions League quarterfinals are getting closer.
Following on from Bleacher Report's discussion of one player to watch from each remaining team, it's time to discuss value.
The criteria is important in this one. I've considered players on their monetary value to the club, physical presence on the pitch and prioritised individuals who can raise their price-tag with every display. Also, a smidgen of loyalty goes a long way.
Which players trump all in this light-hearted test? Let's take a look.
Isco is a valuable property for Malaga and Spanish football. At a time where World Cup winning heroes such as Xavi and Carles Puyol trundle deep into 30s territory, the nation needs a starlet to suggest the next generation is also going to dominate major tournaments.
Right now, Isco is that player.
His Champions League performances will have Malaga licking their lips in anticipation of a summer flurry. Although Manuel Pellegrini won't want to see the 20-year-old leave, Isco's recently signed contract has ensured the club will receive greater value for his eventual sale.
Penned in January 2013, Isco now has a release clause of €40 million, almost doubling the €21 million his previous deal included (via ESPN). While the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham eyed the Spaniard before the season, it seems they may be priced out of a move after his successful campaign.
Borussia Dortmund: Robert Lewandowski
This is where the definition of the article becomes important. For the record, I believe Mario Gotze and Marco Reus to be more important players at the Westfalenstadion. As noted here, the former has a massive part to play in whether or not Dortmund advance to the Champions League semi-final.
Similar to Isco, Mr Lewandowski is determining his own value right now. Manchester United and Bayern Munich have been repeatedly linked to the Polish forward who has netted 24 goals in 36 appearances all season (via The Daily Mail).
Reports suggest Lewandowski is currently valued at around £18 million (via The Telegraph). While the likes of Gotze and Reus would undoubtedly drum up more funds, their transfer away isn't imminent. Lewandowski will have options at the end of the season and represents Dortmund's most likely big-sum departure this year.
Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo
Here we go: the first brand to appear. Cristiano Ronaldo is the epitome of everything a modern footballer needs to be. He has played for two of the biggest clubs in the world, possesses strangely feminine looks, and isn't too bad at football either.
Following in the footsteps of a certain Paris-based Englishman, Ronaldo is football's answer to a pop sensation. Just like the curly-haired fool from One Direction, the Portuguese winger is surrounded by colleagues who back him up when showtime appears. Once the performance is over, it's usually Ronaldo who grabs the headlines.
As you can see above, his one-handed Macarena is quite something. It's the kind of move that sees his value loiter around the £55 million mark, and will force Manchester United to employ the help of Chevrolet if they are to fund his return (via The Daily Mirror).
Galatasaray: Burak Yilmaz
So what if Galatasaray have Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder? The aging duo hold very little value in today's market, despite their exceptional talents.
Burak Yilmaz is currently the headline act in Turkey. His heroic Champions League efforts have seen Galatasaray through to the quarterfinals after a bumpy Group Stage. It's worth noting the 27-year-old has eight goals in the competition—a total that sees him tie with Ronaldo. That's one more than Lionel Messi.
While not as glamorous as many on this list, Yilmaz is beginning to receive plenty of interest as we head into the summer months.
Manchester United have been outlined as possible destination, with reports suggesting the striker is chasing a move to Old Trafford (via The Guardian). The National Turk also indicates Chelsea could be willing to spend €25 million on the player.
Not bad for a forward that cost €5 million in July 2012.
Paris Saint-Germain: David Beckham
Where on Earth is David Beckham in that image? He appears to be at the gates of heaven, perhaps performing a satirical rap for Saint Peter. While the lack of background colour appears to suggest divine intervention, the famous Englishman was just going about his business at the University of Peking (via Yahoo! Sports).
The former Manchester United man has hardly kicked a ball for PSG. Players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura are far more important to Carlo Ancelotti's team; but only if we're talking on the pitch.
Beckham's arrival is symbolic of a club that is fast becoming a powerhouse of world football. This is a man who tops the sport's rich list, despite the fact he is giving his current wage away to charity (via The Daily Mail). He is the first Global Ambassador for Chinese football, the face of Adidas and even has his own logo.
The man has his own logo. That kind of power is reserved for sporting royalty such as Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, as well as other famous celebrities including Michael Jackson and Jesus Christ.
Barcelona: Lionel Messi
In transfer terms, Lionel Messi is priceless. Any club willing to acquire his services would need to drop a world record fee for the four time Ballon d'Or winner, and rightly so.
The Argentinian maestro is the quietly-spoken face of a major footballing era. Although he doesn't quite flaunt the commercial assets of Ronaldo, his continuous battle against the Real Madrid star will go down in history as the next iteration of "Maradona or Pele?"
It's difficult to imagine a Barcelona without Messi. As young players such as Cristian Tello, Isaac Cuenca and Gerard Deulofeu rise through the youth ranks, it's Messi who will remain Barcelona's constant. Nothing is more valuable than that.
Bayern Munich: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger isn't the youngest or most exciting player at Bayern Munich. His head once played host to a spiky yellow haircut, as if the midfielder watched The Simpsons and thought Bart was the perfect role model.
Although troublesome in his early professional career, the 28-year-old mimics many others on this list for embodying everything his club has come to represent. He has represented Bayern for over a decade and is fast-approaching that mark for the German national team.
Plenty of silverware has followed, although Schweinsteiger will feel he needs to win international silverware if he is ever to be considered a true great of German football. Like the multitasking Franz Beckenbauer, it would be safe to presume Schweinsteiger will come on to a future career of coaching, punditry and intimidation.
Right now, he glues Bayern Munich's chance of success together. As we saw in the Champions League Round of 16 second-leg tie against Arsenal, his absence unhinges the entire shape and balance of the team.
Juventus: Giorgio Chiellini
Giorgio Chiellini is blessed with dashing good looks and the temper of a man who wouldn't hurt a fly. He reaches Marco Materazzi levels of loveliness and is surely the life of any Juventus-based party.
No current transfer speculation surrounds Chiellini despite his stature as one of the best defenders in the world. This says it all about a man who was signed by the club in 2004 and is likely to see out the rest of his days in Turin.
The powerful defender is blessed with exciting gifts. Not only is he a tremendous tackler and physical bully, he has the ability to offer an attacking threat from set-pieces. Juventus has been through some massively tough times recently, but Chiellini remained at the club when they were relegated to Serie B in 2006.
Although his transfer cost would be astronomical, this kind of loyalty makes Chiellini MVP worthy no matter which judging criteria is being used.