CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report
n°16 – June 2016
Transfer values and probabilities:
the CIES Football Observatory approach
Drs Raffaele Poli, Loïc Ravenel and Roger Besson
4. Transfer values
This chapter presents the rankings for big-5 league players with the highest transfer values as of 1st June 2016. Matches played or contract extensions occurred after this date have not been included in the analysis. However, the estimations take into account the inflationist trend of transfer fees.
The majority of footballers with the highest transfer value play in the top-flight teams, are active internationals, have a long-term contract and are less than 27 years of age. As of July 2015, Lionel Messi tops the rankings. However, his top spot is under increasing threat from his teammate Neymar. Given their age difference, a change in the first position seems unavoidable, especially if the Brazilian renews his contract with Barcelona.
Cristiano Ronaldo, ranked third, is the only player having celebrated his 31st birthday among the 100 most expensive players. This result is explained by the fact that clubs are prepared to pay substantial transfer fees above all when footballers have many years left in the career to play.
In total, eight players have a transfer value of over €100 million. The youngest of them, Antony Martial, is only 20 years of age. Another Frenchman, Antoine Griezmann, is the most likely to be transferred. A third Frenchman, Paul Pogba, has the highest value for central midfielders. With four players, only the Argentineans outnumber the French in the top 20 list: Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín.
The vast majority of footballers on the list play for competitive teams. Indeed, good results have a positive effect on the value of squad members. Conversely, poor results do not allow clubs to show players under contract in the best light. Good individual performances can only partially compensate collective weaknesses.
Most of the footballers with the highest transfer values play in attacking positions. This player profile is indeed traditionally the one for which clubs are prepared to pay the highest fees. This result would lead one to believe that offensive talents are rarer and thus more sought after. Another possible explanation is that footballers playing in attack are simply more visible and admired by spectators than their colleagues playing in a more defensive role, which could lead to clubs pushing up the bidding price to ensure their services.
Three defenders are ranked between the 21st and 40th place for big-5 league footballers with the highest transfer values: Hector Bellerín (Arsenal), David Alaba (Bayern Munich) and Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid). Though they are still young, they already have considerable international experience. According to our analysis, Thibault Courtois (Chelsea) is the most expensive goalkeeper: €48.4 million (35th).
Victory in the English Premier League has allowed Leicester City to showcase their players. The most expensive among them is the French neo-international N’Golo Kanté, closely followed by the Algerian international Riyad Mahrez. According to our analysis, the transfer value of goalkeepers David de Gea (Manchester United) and Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid) is also above 40 million €.
The transfer values of players ranked between 61st and 80th place are situated between €34 and €38 million. Alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, the Bayern Munich world champion Manuel Neuer (72nd) is the only player in the top 100 having already celebrated his 30th birthday. The transfer value of Marco Verratti (61st) sharply decreased compared to January due to his injury.
Thanks to the outstanding performances with Dortmund, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the only player with one year of contract remaining among the 100 most expensive big-5 league players. Two young German talents also have very high transfer values: Leroy Sané (€34 million, 81th) and Jonathan Tah (€29.4 million, 100th). Given their age and ability to progress, their transfer fee could increase even further in a year’s time, unless a top club decides to act quickly as Manchester United did in August 2015 with Anthony Martial.
An interesting observation is also the over-representation of English Premier League players among those with the highest transfer values: 7 in the top 20 rankings, 17 in the top 40, 29 in the top 60, 41 in the top 80 and 46 in the top 100.
This result is a reflection of the financial clout of English clubs that allows them to attract numerous talents from abroad each year. Moreover, transfer costs between Premier League teams are generally higher than between clubs from other championships. All things being equal, the value of a Premier League player is thus higher than that of a footballer playing in other competitions.
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