The Ultimate Galacticos
Real Madrid is embarking on a "New Galacticos" era, with the signing of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Albiol and another star to be named later.
In the process, Madrid president Florentino Perez has splashed out over $300 million, an astounding figure in these tough economic times.
Even though Madrid has access to vast amounts of money (unlike most countries and financial institutions in the world), it is ultimately cash that limits Perez from signing a starting eleven of Galacticos.
But what if you had access to an unlimited stash of cash! (just a little bit more than what the Manchester City owners have)
Who would you sign?
I will unveil my starting eleven of Galacticos.
The challenge: you can only chose one player from a given nationality (i.e. you can't have more than one player from the same national team).
In homage to Perez's marketing tactics, this will maximize the global reach of my team and garner increased revenue.
My formation: An uber-offensive minded 3-4-3. Why, because it would be fun to watch and tactically it features triangles and diamonds all over the pitch.
Will you agree with my picks? Probably not, but it will be a fun debate.
Please put your starting eleven in the comments section.
Here we go.
Goalie: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
The Italians are known for their defense and it is only right that that the Juventus and Italy keeper marshalls this team's goal.
Truly world-class in the 2006 World Cup, Buffon has made up for the current Juventus and Italy squads' defensive frailties time and time again.
Plus having his wife at the games won't hurt attendance.
Honorable mention: Iker Casillas (Spain), Petr Cech (Czech Republic).
Left Back: Philipp Lahm (Germany)
The other European defensive stalwart, Germany, provides the second member of this team's defense.
Lahm, however, is known for his attacking talent and will provide plenty of balls to the midfielders and forwards.
Plus if you have a German on the team, you know the revenue from beer sales will always be solid.
Honorable mention: Patrice Evra (France), Joan Capdevila (Spain)
Centre Back: Oguchi Onyewu (USA)
This pick will generate a lot of criticism from elitist fans who don't think quality on the football pitch can be produced this side of the Atlantic.
But anybody who witnessed the Confederation's Cup will have to testify this man's immense presence, as he single-handedly kept the Spanish and Brazilian attacks at bay.
The burly defender will have plenty of suitors after his performance in the Cup and should be making his move to a top-class European League sooner rather than later.
Plus, if you truly want to have a global marketing strategy, you can't ignore the U.S.A.
That is exactly why it is surprising why more teams aren't lining up for U.S.A's golden-boy Landon Donovan, who proved he could compete with the best of the best in the Confederations Cup and would be relatively cheap (Attention Chelsea!)
Honorable Mention: Carles Puyol, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry
Right Back: Maicon (Brazil)
The best right back in the game is good enough to hold-off another great right back, Barcelona star Daniel Alves, from cracking Brazil's starting eleven.
Maicon can defend, make dizzying runs into the box and setup his teammates with well-placed balls.
Plus he is not known for concentration lapses a la Sergio Ramos and Alves.
Honorable Mention: Sergio Ramos (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil)
Defensive Midfielder: Michael Essien (Ghana)
Michael Essien, simply put, is a beast.
Chelsea fans have been lucky to see his marauding runs, thunderous shots and lung-bursting efforts. It was his return from injury last year that helped the Blues turn their season around.
In this team filled with offensive firepower, you need someone who is willing to do all the dirty work, and Essien is just the man for this job.
Honorable Mentions: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Marcos Senna (Spain), Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Left Midfielder: Yoann Gourcuff (France)
Zidane might have labeled Franck Ribery the "jewel of French football," but the man who draws direct comparisons to the legendary maestro is Gourcuff.
AC Milan fans are cursing the Rossoneri's decision to let this starlet leave, especially in the light of Kaka's move to Madrid.
Gourcuff has set France's Ligue 1 on fire since he returned, and the man that brings Gourcuff to one of the top clubs will be seen as a genius (my money is on Arsene Wenger).
Plus, he will draw Beckham-esque interest from the ladies, which is always good for the revenue stream.
Honorable Mention: Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Yuri Zhurkov (Russia), Franck Ribery (France)
Right Midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Spain)
A tough decision as Spain boast a wealth of talent, and picking one over the others is hard.
But few can argue with Iniesta's place in this team, as he has proven his superior quality in Barcelona's treble-winning season and Spain's record-setting international campaign.
Sacrilegious as it might sound, I would say that Iniesta is more valuable to Barcelona than "El Mesias", Lionel Messi.
Spain also felt his absence in the Confederation's Cup as they lacked a cutting edge without Iniesta gliding past defenders with simplest of ease.
Plus, his lack of an ego and unselfishness will be sorely needed in this team full of superstars.
Honorable Mention: David Silva (Spain), Robinho (Brazil)
Attacking Midfielder: Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
This is one of the most competitive positions on the squad and there will be plenty of debate.
Arshavin showed his class in Euro 2008 and made an instant impact in the Premier League last year with Arsenal
He will only get better as he gets settled in the Premier League. He can drive forward with surprising pace, can play multiple positions and can unleash a powerful shot.
He provides access to the huge Russian market and his eccentric personality would generate plenty of tabloid fodder thanks to his quotes and draw more interest in the team.
Sorry Kaka fans, but if I had picked the Brazilian, it would have ruled out Maicon/Alves and with Ramos ruled out because of Iniesta, the dropoff to Glen Johnson of England would have been too great.
Honorable Mention: Steven Gerrard (England), Frank Lampard (England), Xavi (Spain). Kaka (Brazil).
Left Forward: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
One of two main contenders for best player in the world, Messi will likely dethrone Cristiano Ronaldo as the Ballon d' Or thanks to Barcelona's Champions League trophy.
He is a joy to watch on the field as the ball seemingly is attached to his feet even while running at full speed.
He has drawn comparisons to another Argentinian living legend, Diego Maradona. Plaudits don't get much higher than that.
Honorable Mention: Thierry Henry (France), Giuseppi Rossi (Italy)
Right Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The debate over who is the better player, Lionel Messi or Ronaldo will only get more heated as Ronaldo starts playing for Madrid, Barcelona's arch-nemesis.
But you can't argue that Ronaldo at this stage is the more complete player. He has speed, trickery, shooting ability and a wicked set-piece delivery.
Although classified as a midfielder, he played a hybrid-forward role for United that saw him reach an astounding 42 goals and win the Ballon D'Or in 2008.
He would slot in perfectly on this team and along with Messi and the next player, would make an unstoppable front line.
Honorable Mention: Yoann Gourcuff (France), Landon Donovan (USA), David Villa (Spain)
Striker: Wayne Rooney (England)
The most-competitive position on the team as there is a plethora of talent available, and you wouldn't go wrong with many of the choices.
But England's golden-boy gets the nod here because of his willing to track back and help on defense, which will be vital in this team that is loaded with attacking talent.
Oh he can also score a bit too, audacious strikes from outside the box being his specialty.
Plus he would single-handedly attract the entire nation of England to this team which will be great for revenue.
The English don't agree on much in terms of football (Lampard/Gerrard?), but they all know that the "Wazza" is their best scoring threat and talisman for the English national team.
Honorable Mentions: Zlatan Ibrahimovich (Sweden), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto (Cameroon), Fernando Torres (Spain).
I've picked my team. What is yours?