Player valuation update: Slight recovery of market values


Although live football has returned to action in almost all leagues worldwide, clubs are still facing a crisis which endangers their whole business: Stadium closures and the disruption to the season schedule forced clubs to redraw their budgets. As many are struggling to repay debts or to finance wages and other costs, it is no surprise that the majority of clubs is reluctant to assign a lot of funds to player trading activities. Lower purchasing power and the general uncertainty in the business inevitably led to a devaluation of football players – clubs’ most important assets.

In early May, the KPMG Football Benchmark team published a report analysing the factors that impact player values with football on hold, and providing player value estimates for two potential scenarios – both of which revealed that player market values (MV) were not immune to the pandemic. Since then, player values in the major 10 European leagues have slightly recovered due to the fact that almost all leagues were eventually able to finish the 2019/20 season with matches being played behind closed doors and players able to perform on-pitch. However, most players still have not regained their “pre-pandemic” market value.

Looking back at the development of the 2019/20 domestic championships in Europe’s 10 leagues included in our analysis[1], we can conclude that the “worst-case-scenario”, which assumed all leagues under consideration to be cancelled without any remaining game to be played and a significant decrease in clubs’ operating revenue and liquidity, did not occur. Apart from the French Ligue 1, the Dutch Eredivisie and the Belgian Jupiler Pro League, all other domestic leagues in addition to UEFA’s European club competitions, the Champions League and the Europa League, managed to finalize their seasons with remaining matches having been played behind closed doors. Thus, a decrease by EUR 6.6 billion, a drop of 17.6% compared to the February values, can be considered a reasonable estimation.

Comparing the most recent KPMG Football Benchmark player market value estimations to pre-COVID-19 figures from February 2020, and to our values from May 2020, we can recognize a slight recovery of player market values in the 10 European leagues which are part of our analysis. The following chart shows the aggregate player market values of the leagues, highlighting the drop of 17.6% meaning a decrease by EUR 6.6 billion due to the pandemic between February and May and indicating a slight overall increase of 3.8% between May and August 2020. It needs to be considered that the August 2020 player market values display the values at the end of the 2019/20 season without taking into account promoted clubs who will join the league from the beginning of next season, in order to draw a meaningful comparison.

The updated player market value estimations from KPMG's Football Benchmark team as of 3 August 2020 include over 4,500 players from 12 leagues based on the latest sporting statistics provided by Opta. The estimates cover footballers in the top 10 European leagues as mentioned above and the top-flights of Brazil and Argentina. 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.

The overall ranking of top players by market value reveals only a minor variation compared to the previous valuation: UEFA Champions League runners-up Paris Saint-Germain FC still boast the top two players, with Kylian Mbappe dominating the ranking and having been able to cross the EUR 200 million mark again after his MV had decreased to EUR 188 million due to the impacts of the pandemic. He is followed by his teammate Neymar, who saw a EUR 1 million decrease bringing his MV down to EUR 148 million. Third place is again occupied by Manchester City star Raheem Sterling who scored 31 goals in the expired season, his best-ever tally for a single campaign in top-flight football. Lionel Messi has dropped three places (mainly due to his contract at FC Barcelona expiring in 10 months), while Jadon Sancho overtook him and Mohamed Salah and is now the fourth most valuable player in our ranking. Harry Kane and Kevin de Bruyne, both valued at EUR 120 million, are listed eighth and ninth, while the young right-back Trent-Alexander Arnold leapfrogged Marcus Rashford and has entered our Top 10.

Interestingly, the 2019/20 Champions League trophy holders FC Bayern München are not represented by any player, not even in the top 20; Leroy Sane who joined Bayern in the current transfer window is the Bavarians' most valuable player, listed at number 23 (worth EUR 82 million). Nevertheless, München boast the fifth highest aggregate squad value, which underlines their strategy to not bet on star players but rather build a strong collective, something which has proven to be quite successful in the expired season. Looking at the aggregate squad value by club, the dominance of English Premier League sides is evident: our chart shows, that five of the top 10 clubs by aggregate market value are English.

Alphonso Davies, one of the rising stars of this season and a major part of FC Bayern’s success, is the player who increased his market value the most since May. Davies’ estimated value rose by a staggering EUR 35 million, a testament to his consistently good performances at a very young age. He is followed by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who will turn 19 later this week and has filled in at multiple positions in 2019/20, showing his versatility. Bruno Fernandes, who saw an increase of EUR 23 million, has led Manchester United to a third-place-finish in the English Premier League; after joining in the winter transfer window, the Portuguese attacking midfielder had an instant impact on the fortunes of the team. The list is completed by City’s Phil Foden, whose EUR 19.4 million increase in market value brought his MV up to almost EUR 50 million and Victor Osimhen, who recently joined SSC Napoli for a reported transfer fee of EUR 70 million.

Among the players who suffered the biggest decrease in market value, we can find some prominent names: Although having won the Champions League with Bayern München while on loan from FC Barcelona, Philippe Coutinho has seen his market value drop by almost EUR 15 million due to his limited on-pitch appearances in the 2019/20 season. Three other South Americans playing in Europe’s top football leagues are also among the top 5 by market value decrease: James Rodriguez’s and Sergio Agüero’s market values both dropped by EUR 14 million while West Ham’s Felipe Anderson records a drop of EUR 13.

We have also put together a 'dream team' according to absolute market values, utilising a 4-3-3 formation.


[1] Besides the big five leagues, the English Championship, the Dutch Eredivisie, the Portuguese Liga NOS, the Turkish Süper Lig and the Belgian Jupiler Pro League were also included.