Football may be a game for most of the world, but for those lucky enough to call it a career, it’s a cut throat business in which players are bought and sold like the assets they are. We saw it just yesterday with Roma reaping a potential 800% profit off a player they bought just two years ago, but that’s how quickly fortunes rise and fall in world football. The markets are chaotic and combustible, based on little more than the players age and the speculation of what he or she might do. Granted the objective means by which players are evaluated grows more nuanced by the day, but they haven’t yet reached the level of baseball, where a players value to his team can be quantified to the exact dollar and/or wins he contributes to the club.
Did anyone in their right mind think Alisson would break the world record transfer fee for a keeper in July of 2016? I highly doubt it, but as we just mentioned, valuations can skyrocket in an instant, particularly for younger players.
Case in point, our very own Cengiz Ünder. Purchased last summer for the tidy sum of €13.4 million, those of us not hip to Turkish youth players had no idea what this kid could do, let alone if he was worth that fee, but thanks to a stellar campaign, he’s now among the most sought after kids in the world.
And, based on the work of Prime Time Sports (yeah, never heard of them either) Ünder is one of the twenty most valuable U21 players in the world. Using their “Football Value Index”, which takes into account the players “personal attributes and pitch performance” as well as the respective clubs five-year record of sales, comparable sales and the players age and remaining years on their contract.
Ünder clocked in precisely at number 20 with an estimated worth of €31.9 million, more than double what Roma paid for him just last summer. Thanks to SI the entire list can be seen here (there’s also a link to the pdf in that article), but as you probably guessed, World Cup hero Kylian Mbappe tops the list at a remarkable €192 million, more than double the second name on that list, Marcus Rashford. Roma targets Malcolm and Federico Chiesa check in at five and six, respectively, each worth more than €60 million.
Given how quickly the fortunes of young players can turn, it will be interesting to see how this list is shuffled just a year from now. Either way, Cengiz Ünder’s days in obscurity are long gone.
And if Roma’s past is any roadmap, don’t get used to his pretty face.