Player Valuation Update: Values stagnate below pre-Covid levels

11.05.2021

Three of the four most valuable clubs will play in the finals of the Champions League and the Europa League, demonstrating again a crystallization of sporting power in European club football. At individual level, Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland jumps into the top 10 at second place, while Kylian Mbappé remains the most valuable player in the world (EUR 189m), according to our latest Player Valuation Tool update.

As the final stages of the 2020/21 domestic campaigns and UEFA club competitions approach, KPMG Football Benchmark have released their updated player market value estimates. In general, player values have been stagnant over the past six months, and most players have still not regained their “pre-pandemic” market value. In particular, since the last valuation in February 2021, when aggregate market values for both the top 100 and top 500 players by market value slightly decreased, we can now see limited growth.

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With regard to domestic leagues, the English Premier League is once again ahead of the other leagues in terms of players’ values. The average market value of a player in England’s top tier currently stands at EUR 20.1m – almost twice as much as the average value of a player in the German Bundesliga (EUR 11.6m), which boasts the second-highest average. The Dutch Eredivisie is the first non-big 5 league by highest average market value (EUR 2.8m). Interestingly, England’s second-tier Championship has a higher player value average than the top divisions in Belgium, Brazil, Turkey and Argentina, as our chart shows.

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The financial strength of English football is apparent at club level, too: the first four clubs by highest squad value all come from England’s first division, with Manchester City (EUR 1.1b) and Liverpool (EUR 1b) being the only clubs exceeding the EUR 1b threshold. They are followed by Manchester United (EUR 907m) and Chelsea (EUR 891m). The first two clubs outside England with the highest squad value are FC Barcelona and Bayern München, whose first-team squads are currently worth EUR 864m and EUR 858m, respectively.

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Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland sits at the top of the list of the five individuals who have increased their market value the most since February, after gaining more than EUR 20m in value in little over just three months. Despite a contract in place until 2024, the Norwegian has been linked to a number of elite clubs eyeing a potential transfer in the upcoming summer transfer window. Haaland is followed by Manchester City’s Phil Foden, Atlético de Madrid’s Marcos Llorente, and Juventus’ Federico Chiesa, who all have increased their market values by at least EUR 17m. The list is completed by Eintracht Frankfurt’s Portuguese striker André Silva, who has already scored 25 goals in Germany’s top tier – as many as Erling Haaland.

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The top 10 ranking by absolute market value has seen some significant changes since the last valuation in February. Kylian Mbappé remains the world’s most valuable football player with a market value of EUR 189m, having recorded a slight increase of EUR 4m since February. A contract renewal at PSG which seems to be on the horizon would certainly boost the market value of the 22-year-old. His team-mate Neymar, who was also in the final year of his contract has recently signed an extension with the club, which keeps him in Paris until June 2025. His new contract would surely raise his current market value (EUR116m, estimated before his new agreement with PSG). Being ranked 11th three months ago, Erling Haaland not only enters the top 10, but climbs nine places to the second position. Notably, the ranking is dominated by forwards, with Manchester City midfielder De Bruyne and Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold being the only representatives of other positions.

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The expiry date of contracts is one of the major factors impacting football players’ market values. As clubs are reluctant to make large investments into their squad as a consequence of the impacts of the coronavirus on their finances, not only has transfer market activity declined, but clubs are also hesitating to renew contracts with their top earners. In fact, the contracts of some of the most prominent individuals in European football, such as Lionel Messi or Sergio Ramos, are expiring this June and their future is still uncertain. While these players are often key figures, clubs more than ever have to carefully evaluate costs and benefits to any new player contract in order to navigate the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

The following chart shows the eight players with the highest current market value among the players whose contracts are expiring in June 2021. It has to be noted, however, that apart from the contract expiration, additional factors impact the valuation of these footballers, including their age and individual on-pitch performances.

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Market value estimates from KPMG's Football Benchmark include over 5,600 players from 12 leagues 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, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, as well as the EFL Championship. 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.