I'm not entirely sure what it takes to make one an expert in something as subjective as valuing footballers, presumably it's equal parts knowing someone in the biz so you can conflate your importance plus having a proprietary algorithm of some sort. From ESPN to Goal to Deloitte, we see an awful lot of these "most valuable” lists, usually as they pertain to individual players or the clubs themselves. What makes one more accurate or valid than the other remains a mystery, but they're usually safe bets to stir up some controversy.
A relatively new contributor to this scene is the CIES Football Observatory. We've talked a bit about CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies), a Swiss research group whose acronym is twisted thanks to the complexities of language, most notably when they tabbed Bryan Cristante as the third best transfer in all of Europe last season (in terms of cost vs value).
While some will scoff at that notion and dismiss their credibly out of hand, CIES is back at it, showering praise on another of Roma's horde of young attacking talent, The Kid himself, Nicolo Zaniolo.
Last @CIES_Football Weekly Post for the 2018/19 season presents the 100 big-5 league players with the highest transfer values according to our exclusive algorithm: @KMbappe ahead of @MoSalah & @sterling7! Full list available for free at https://t.co/ZfCrtEP88k pic.twitter.com/6DDhYBRWa5— CIES Football Obs (@CIES_Football) June 13, 2019
According to their algorithm, available in PDF on the actual post (its a pretty detailed report FWIW), Nicolo Zaniolo clocks in as the 74th most valuable player in the world, ranking ahead of players like Kevin De Bruyne, Luka Jovic, Federico Chiesa, Gianluigi Donnarumma and even would be Roma hitman Mauro Icardi.
CIES methodology, which weighs a variety of factors like age, position, experience and current league, deems Zaniolo worth €68.3 million in today's market. And while that's well behind Kylian Mbappe's €252 price tag, it’s nevertheless quite a feather in Zaniolo's cap.
As we so often mention in pieces like these, Zaniolo's appearance on this list is nothing more than highfalutin click-bait, but if nothing else it's testament to his growing standing in the game, so when the litany of other Top 100 lists are released, don't be shocked to see Zaniolo's name appear.
Whether you devour these lists or think they're complete bullshit, I think we can all agree Zaniolo was the surprise of the season for Roma, and if he can find a home in Paulo Fonseca's tactics next season, €68 million might seem like a bargain.