After the conclusion of an eventful summer transfer window, Football Benchmark present their latest, October 2023 update of the Player Valuation platform.
No major change in the Top 10; Haaland retains first place
Since our last, July 2023 update that saw Erling Haaland (EUR 196 million) grab the title of the most valuable player in the world, no major changes are observed at the top of the ranking. The Norwegian superstar was able to not only keep his first place, but also increased the gap to the rest and to Kylian Mbappé (EUR 168 million), in particular. The 24-year-old French forward has less than one year remaining on his contract at Paris Saint-Germain FC; this significantly decreases his current value on the market as he will be free to enter into talks with any club from next January. For now, Mbappé was still able to keep his second place, however the Real Madrid duo of Vinícius Junior (EUR 164 million) and Jude Bellingham (EUR 154 million) could overtake him in the ranking soon. It should be noted that during the summer, among the top 10 only Bellingham transferred to another club.
Further down, eight new players have joined the top 100 since July, namely: Xavi Simons, Evan Ferguson, James Maddison, Alejandro Baldé, Jérémy Doku, Loïs Openda, Benjamin Sesko, Karim Adeyemi and Kaoru Mitoma.
Players on the rise – who increased their value during the first months of the season?
The Brighton & Hove Albion FC duo of Mitoma and Ferguson were not only able to get into the top 100, but they are also among those who recorded the biggest increases in value since July (excluding those who signed a new contract or transferred to another club): both players’ services are now worth around an extra EUR 20 million. A third player from the Seagulls is also on the list as Pervis Estupiñán increased his value by EUR 13 million.
Interestingly, six leagues and nine different nationalities are featured on the list of biggest value increases, showcasing a diverse distribution of talent. It should also be noted that four of them are younger than 20.
The best of the next generation
Focusing on the Under-21 category, the increased value of young talent becomes more apparent: for the first time ever, everyone in the top 10 had at least a value of EUR 60 million. There are two new faces in the list compared to July: Xavi Simons and Evan Ferguson.
Unsurprisingly, the ranking of the most valuable Under-21 players includes many who are also part of the final shortlist of the Tuttosport Golden Boy Award, as announced last week. Football Benchmark is the Data & Analytics partner of the award; we developed an advanced mathematical model to rank the best talents based on sporting performance, playing time, club strength and competition-based indicators. The full ranking can be found here.
Apart from SL Benfica’s António Silva, all on the list plays for a club in one of the “Big Five” leagues.
Talent pipeline outside the “Big Five”
It is also worthwhile to take a look at players plying their trade in European leagues outside the “Big Five” (England, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France); many of these other leagues consistently develop world-class talents. Our latest market value estimates show that there are no fewer than 50 players with a value above EUR 20 million outside the “Big Five” in Europe as of October. The Portuguese Primeira Liga seems to be the most prominent in this regard: 8 of the top 10 players by value in this category are playing for one of SL Benfica, FC Porto, or Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Expansion of the “Billionaire Club”
After the conclusion of the summer transfer window, there are now nine clubs that possess a squad worth over EUR 1 billion, one more than in July as Manchester United FC join this group. There is a considerable drop-off after the top 10 with RB Leipzig’s squad at 11th place valued at EUR 651 million. The most valuable Italian Serie A squad is still SSC Napoli’s with an aggregate value of EUR 640 million, followed closely by FC Internazionale Milano (EUR 624 million) and AC Milan (EUR 623 million).
It is Manchester City FC that still lead the ranking by a wide margin, as they are the only club above a squad value of EUR 1.2 billion. They are followed by Arsenal FC, Real Madrid CF, and Paris Saint-Germain FC; only EUR 21 million separates these three in terms of current squad value.
FC Barcelona dropped down five places after a summer transfer window that was limited by financial constraints. Barça invested only EUR 3 million in transfer fees while generating over EUR 100 million from the sales of the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Antoine Griezmann and Franck Kessié. In total, their squad value decreased by over EUR 160 million compared to July.
Almost half of the English Premier League (9 clubs) boast an aggregate squad value above EUR 500 million. There are only 10 such clubs in the German, Spanish, Italian and French top divisions combined, which once again underlines the financial might of the EPL.
Saudi transfer activities reflected strongly in squad values
The biggest story of the summer transfer window was the spending spree of the Saudi Pro League, fueled by state funding and the country’s ambition to possess a top global league. This is prominently highlighted by squad value increases; three Saudi clubs are among the top 10 by growth since July: Al-Ahli, Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. At league level, the 16 Saudi top tier clubs’ squads are now worth a combined EUR 1.04 billion (+148% versus July).
The other league that is featured prominently in this ranking is - unsurprisingly - the English Premier League. Interestingly, it is clubs that are either chasing European qualification places (Aston Villa FC, West Ham United FC) or wish to avoid relegation (Nottingham Forest FC, AFC Bournemouth, Burnley FC) that have increased their squad value the most and been the most active in the transfer market since our last valuation date.
Galatasaray SK’s major summer investment is also notable as they seek to retain their Turkish league title and improve on their recent European performances. Instead of spending big, the club targeted free agents (Wilfried Zaha, Tetê), loan signings (Hakim Ziyech, Angeliño, Tanguy Ndombélé) and relatively cheaper players (Mauro Icardi, Davinson Sánchez, Kerim Demirbay, Cédric Bakambu) to strengthen their squad.
One of the biggest surprises of European football in the new season, Girona FC, are also present in the ranking, increasing their squad value by close to EUR 55 million since July. The club is a prime example of how to increase a squad’s value without major transfer market investment as none of their signings cost more than EUR 8 million. Thanks to some smart investment and a fantastic on-pitch display, they currently not only placed second in LaLiga, but could also increase their squad value by 72% over a short time span.
Premier League clubs dominate annual squad value increases
It is also interesting to look at the squad value change dynamics over a longer timeframe, comparing current figures with the situation one year ago (October 2022). Arsenal FC are not only at the top of the ranking, but they display one of the highest year-on-year squad value growths ever. To put this into perspective, the Gunners’ EUR 446 million gain over one year is higher than the current squad value of all but 22 clubs in the world.
Once again, EPL clubs have a strong presence at the top: the league’s clubs have increased their combined squad value by over EUR 1.2 billion during the past year, strengthening the notion that they are already the “Super League” of Europe. In stark contrast, the aggregate squad value of German Bundesliga clubs actually decreased slightly over the same period.
Finally, it is noteworthy that SL Benfica managed to increase their squad value by EUR 158 million over the past year despite selling Enzo Fernández in January 2023. This ranking is another testament to the club’s ability to constantly identify and develop talented players in order to replace major outgoings.
Note: Football Benchmark’s Player Valuation platform monitors market values for over 10,000 players from 23 leagues (English Premier League, English EFL Championship, Spanish LaLiga, Spanish LaLiga2, German Bundesliga, German 2. Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Italian Serie B, French Ligue 1, French Ligue 2, Portuguese Primeira Liga, Turkish Süper Lig, Dutch Eredivisie, Belgian Pro League, Brazilian Serie A, Argentina Primera División, Austrian Bundesliga, Russian Premier Liga, Saudi Professional League, Danish Superliga, Swiss Super League, Scottish Premiership, Liga MX) and from several top teams in other leagues.
Find out more here.