Player Valuation Update: Mbappé back on top, Vinícius rising high


Kylian Mbappé has reclaimed the position as the most valuable footballer, while Vinícius Júnior boasts the highest value increase since February, according to Football Benchmark’s updated player market value estimates. Our analysis also reveals how reshuffling squads by incorporating emerging star players, home-grown talents and new signings, can positively impact top team’s squad values, as well. 

Mbappé’s return to the top as the most valuable player is a result of his recent contract renewal with Paris Saint-Germain until 2025. His outstanding value is primarily explained by his excellent performance metrics. Being only 23 years old, we can assume that his prime years are still ahead of him. 

Manchester City’s new signing, Erling Haaland is in second place. Interestingly, his reported transfer fee (fixed EUR 60m) was much lower than his market valuation due to a clause in his Borussia Dortmund contract. Consequently, Manchester City is likely to have made a good deal with this signing: while Haaland’s last season in Dortmund was marred by several injuries, good performances in the Premier League in the upcoming season can lead to an even higher valuation. 

Another Manchester City youngster, Phil Foden is in third place – he won the Premier League Young Player of the Year award two seasons in a row (2020/21 and 2021/22) and had a pivotal role in the team winning yet another league title. 

The top five is rounded out by Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. Vinícius, a true breakout star of the season, was crucial in Real Madrid’s successful La Liga and Champions League campaigns. His value more than doubled since the beginning of the past season, as his undoubted talent finally translated into sustained strong performances on the pitch. Similarly, Bellingham enjoyed a remarkable value growth in the past season (an increase of EUR 40m+ since September); he is on the radar of many teams as a primary transfer target. It is interesting to note that most players in the top 10 are 23 years old or younger; the only two exceptions are Bruno Fernandes (27) and Harry Kane (28).

Unsurprisingly, the list of footballers who boast the highest value increases since February is also made up of young players who are 25 or younger. All footballers in this ranking have had exceptional seasons on the pitch, but there are other reasons behind their value boost as well. For example, Darwin Núñez, Aurélien Tchouaméni and Luis Díaz all got transfers to higher ranked leagues and signed long-term contracts in the analysed period. Christopher Nkunku at RB Leipzig and Ronald Araújo at FC Barcelona extended their contracts, leading to a higher market valuation. Notably, this ranking includes seven attacking players, including the top three (Vinícius, Leao and Nunez). Liverpool, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona all have two players in the top 10, indicating a promising future for them.

Indeed, the list of the most valuable payers under the age of 21 includes footballers only from Big5 leagues. FC Barcelona are represented by three teenagers. One of them, 17-year-old Gavi is an interesting case. He has made the top 10 even though his current contract expires in June 2023 and extension talks with Barcelona are already ongoing. If successful, the new contract could greatly elevate his market valuation.

Our updated player value estimates once again confirm the dominance of the English Premier League (EPL) – now all the “big six” clubs of the league are among the top 10 most valuable squads in the world. Manchester City FC remain on top with a commendable lead over second-placed Liverpool, due to their recent signing of Haaland and Julián Álvarez, and value increases for many of their top players during the course of season. Notably, City and Liverpool are the only two clubs boasting  a squad value above the EUR 1 billion threshold (see a previous analysis “Is the EPL the European Super League already?”). Real Madrid are third; while many of their key players are well above 30 and thus have relatively low market values, there are many young stars already in their squad, providing a good foundation for the future. 

Our ranking reflects squad values already incorporating new signings completed by the launch of this article. For example, Tottenham are slightly ahead of Chelsea due to several new arrivals (Lenglet, Bissouma, Perisic, Richarlison), and Chelsea letting their club-record signing Romelu Lukaku go back on loan to Inter Milan, only a year after signing him from the Italian club.

Predictably, the ranking of the most valuable clubs from top European leagues shows a very similar trend, and once again demonstrates remarkable differences. The list reveals a huge gap between the Big5 leagues and the rest. However, it is also notable that the most valuable Serie A squad (Inter Milan) are quite far from the leaders of the other four top leagues. Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam’s fifth position in this ranking is mainly due to several of their players being in high demand this summer after successive good seasons under Erik Ten Hag (now the manager of Manchester United FC).

The previous summer transfer window resulted in a continuing but more modest decrease in overall spending in comparison to the 2019 summer transfer window, the last one before the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, only German Bundesliga clubs spent more on player acquisitions than in 2020, while all the other Big5 leagues spent less on transfers for a second consecutive year. It is yet to be seen how overall spending will shape up to be this summer and how it may impact player values. 

Last summer’s transfer period is primarily remembered for shock moves by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and also for deals that did not materialise in the end: Tottenham managing to keep Manchester City-bound Harry Kane, while Paris St-Germain rejecting Real Madrid’s advances for Kylian Mbappe. Once again, the current transfer period promises some high-profile player moves. Based on media reports, the following top footballers have been linked to moves this summer – their latest estimated market values according to Football Benchmark give an indication as to what a “fair” transfer fee could be. 

Football Benchmark’s Player Valuation tool monitors market values for 8,300+ players from 15 leagues (England Premier League and EFL Championship, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1, Portuguese Primeira Liga, Turkish Süper Lig, Dutch Eredivisie, Belgian First Division A, Brazilian Serie A, Argentinian Superliga, Austria Bundesliga, Russian Premier Liga and Saudi Arabian Pro League) and from several top teams in other leagues.
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