Player Valuation Update: Haaland on top and Foden rising high


The long-term impact of the COVID pandemic on footballers’ market values is clearly demonstrated in KPMG Football Benchmark’s updated player market value estimates. Indeed, after the shocking drop in player values in the spring of 2020 (19.6% decrease in the aggregate values of the top 500 players, and 17.9% drop in the top 100), and some correction in the summer, player values have been stagnant over the past year, and most players have still not regained their “pre-pandemic” market value.

Our last player value estimates in this calendar year, however, also display some examples of remarkable value growth and the firm dominance of the English Premier League (EPL).

The average market value of a player in England’s top tier currently stands at EUR 21.2m – almost twice as much as the average value of a player in the German Bundesliga or Spain’s LaLiga (at EUR 11.4m and EUR 11m, respectively). Portugal’s Primeira Liga is the most valuable league outside of the traditional ‘Big Five’, ahead of the Dutch Eredivisie, while Russia’s top tier is 8th, ahead of England’s second-tier Championship.

Considering year-on-year change, the average market value of a player in the EPL grew by EUR 2.7m (+15%) compared to December 2020, followed by Ligue 1 (+EUR 0.7m, an 8% growth) and Primeira Liga (+EUR 0.6m, +27%). Minor growth was registered in the Bundesliga, the LaLiga and the Serie A and the Turkish Süper Lig, while average player values slightly decreased in the top tiers of Argentina, the Netherlands and in the English EFL Championship.

Unsurprisingly, the ranking of the most valuable clubs from these 15 leagues provides a very similar order, and once again demonstrates remarkable differences. The notable exceptions are RB Salzburg, who are 8th in this list, while the Austrian Bundesliga is only 14th in the ranking of leagues’ average payer values, as seen above.

Manchester City FC also top the ranking of the most valuable squads. Five of the top ten clubs are from England’s first division, with the top three clubs, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United exceeding even the EUR 1b threshold.

Considering the annual change in total squad value, UCL title holders Chelsea recorded the most remarkable growth (+42%) among these clubs, thanks in part to Romelu Lukaku who signed for the club this summer and the rise of young talents such as Mason Mount or Reece James. From the five EPL clubs in this ranking, only Tottenham suffered a major decrease in their total squad value (-24%) in year on year terms

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland remains the most valuable football player according to our algorithm with a market value of EUR 142m. The top 10 list includes eight footballers playing in the English first tier with five of them being England internationals themselves. The current ranking sees Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden join the top 10 (Foden for the first time), while three dropped out: Neymar (from 6th to 15th), Frenkie de Jong (from 7th to 11th) and Kevin De Bruyne (from 8th to 12th).

Phil Foden demonstrates exceptional growth, more than doubling his value in a year (from EUR 49.5 in December 2020 to the current EUR 117m). As a result, he also jumped exactly 100 positions in the ranking. Erling Haaland could also add EUR 32m to his value: last December he was 10th in the ranking with EUR 110m. In contrast, Mbappé lost  EUR 71.8m in value year on year, primarily due to his contract running out next summer.

From the top 10 ranking of December 2020, only six players remained, signalling a gradual change of the guard at the very top of the game.– The four players who could not keep their top 10 position are Raheem Sterling (2nd a year ago and 21th now), Neymar (from 4th to 15th), Sadio Mané (from 7th to 30th), and Kevin De Bruyne (from 8th to 12th).

We also analyzed how the recent Ballon d'Or 2021 awards’ top 10 players are ranked by their current market values - it clearly demonstrates that market values are strongly impacted by factors beyond on-pitch performance, such as a player’s age or the duration of his current contract.  

Market value estimates from KPMG's Football Benchmark include 8,300+ players from 300+ clubs covering the best leagues of the UEFA, CONMEBOL and AFC regions. Our estimates are based on the latest sporting statistics provided by Wyscout, and several other drivers – each of them incorporated with its own specific weight into our proprietary algorithm. The estimates cover footballers in the first divisions of Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, as well as the EFL Championship, plus players in 70 major clubs from further 26 football leagues in Europe and South America. It is important to note that the market value estimates provided are only comparable to fixed transfer fees and do not take into account performance-based bonuses that could be part of a potential player transfer fee.