When it comes to assigning proper monetary value to our favorite footballers, the casual fan usually relies on one of three things: their head, their heart or their balls. You either know how much a player is worth intuitively or, better still, you have a deep seated, visceral understanding of what a guy is worth. While these metrics are handy for bar fights and message boards, they’re not what we’d call (in the strictest sense) objective.
Thankfully, the folks over at The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), and specifically a subgroup called the Football Observatory, takes a more measured approach to assessing the relative value of any given footballer. In case you’re like me and you’re wondering “what the hell is the CIES”, fear no more:
The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. CIES was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchâtel.
CIES provides research, education and consulting services covering the confluence of sport, law, society, geography and history, among other things—focusing on statistics, qualitative research and all matter of data interpretation—to players, agents, leagues and associations. In short, they know of what they speak.
Now that we’ve got the bonafides out of the way, let’s focus on the juicy bit, their list of the 100 most valuable football players on planet Earth. Starting from the top (Neymar at €213 million) all the way to the bottom (Andreas Christensen at €50.2 million), CIES weighed and measured the 100 most pricey players based on some combination of age, position, contract duration and more nebulous factors like “performance” and “international status”, though one can assume the latter two are based on goals/assists and marketability. If you’re curious, there is a link (embedded in the one provided above) that sheds a bit more light on their methodology.
While one would expect the Premiership pretty boys and the oil oligarchs to rule the roost (they did), Serie A did place 17 players on this list, with Paulo Dybala (5th) ranking the highest. As far as Roma is concerned Radja Nainggolan (52nd at €77M), Edin Dzeko (73rd at €64M) and Lorenzo Pellegrini (99th at €50M) all cracked the list. For the sake of your health and well-being, don’t look at Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger. Just don’t. Like, for real. Don’t.
At the end of the day, a player is worth what the market will bear—I can’t imagine anyone ponying up fifty large for Pellegrini right now—but if nothing else, this allows us (and hopefully Monchi) to gauge the value of his players relative to their contemporaries.
So what do we think, how did the folks at CIES do with their top 100 list? Is Neymar really the world’s most valuable player or should that honor fall to someone else?