The bizarre details of the CIES football values list

Manchester United have 10 players more valuable than Lionel Messi (including Daniel James), Cristiano Ronaldo is outside the top 100 and Chelsea have three stars worth more than Harry Kane: The bizarre details of the CIES football values list

  • CIES Football Observatory released their latest transfer market ranking 
  • Manchester United star Marcus Rashford was the most valuable player at £150m
  • Indeed, 10 United players all rank above Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in the top 100
  • Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus doesn’t even make that list, coming in at No 131
  • Harry Kane’s value seems incredibly low despite excellent season for Tottenham
  • But at least he ranks considerably above Neymar, who has vanished from the list 

Marcus Rashford is the world’s most valuable footballer at a cool £150million, Kylian Mbappe’s worth is depreciating rapidly and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is the defender worth the most.

Meanwhile, the stock of Erling Haaland, Bruno Fernandes and Alphonso Davies continues to rise and rise.

Those were just some of the revelations from the latest CIES Football Observatory list of transfer values.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is considered the most valuable player worldwide

But Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe has slipped to fifth because of his contract 

CIES use a formula for their calculations that takes into account the age, form and contract situation of world football’s leading players, as well as team form and the state of the transfer market.

But if you delve a little deeper into the list, there are some intriguing details to be found.

Dan James one of 10 Man United players worth more than Messi

It takes an awful lot of scrolling to find Lionel Messi, arguably the planet’s finest footballer, on the latest CIES ranking.

The Barcelona star is down in 97th position with a calculated transfer market value of £49million. 

There are no fewer that 10 Manchester United players above Messi – Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Donny van de Beek, Dan James, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and Victor Lindelof.

Messi would have topped or almost topped this list for years and years but the reason he is so far down is purely down to his contract situation.

His deal with Barcelona expires this year and Messi looks pretty certain to leave the club for nothing in the summer, so in many ways it’s only due to his enduring class at the age of 33 that he has any market value at all.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi barely scraped into the top 100 of the CIES Observatory list

Daniel James, valued at £6million more than Messi, was one of 10 United players above him

Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t even make the top 100

Mind you, at least Messi made the top 100. His great rival Cristiano Ronaldo came in a lowly 131st.

His £42.5m valuation is largely on account of the fact Ronaldo is now 35 and so has very little resale value for Juventus, even if he repeatedly proves he can do the business in the biggest games.

Another player who has topped this ranking in the past, it’s highly unlikely that Ronaldo’s value will rise much further again as he enters the twilight of his career.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo is No 131 on the CIES list with a calculated value of £42m

Why is Harry Kane so low?

Given the outstanding season he is having, it was a surprise to see England captain Harry Kane as low as 19th on the list.

Kane, 27, has scored 17 goals and contributed 14 assists for Tottenham so far in this campaign, underlining his worth as all-round centre forward these days.

He is also contracted until 2024 at Tottenham and is attracting transfer interest from the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

And yet, despite outperforming all of them, there are three Chelsea players – Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Mason Mount – as well as Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, ranked above him in terms of value.

Surely Kane should be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe in the upper reaches of the list?

Harry Kane is enjoying an outstanding season for Tottenham – but is ranked only at No 19 

Chelsea striker Timo Werner hasn’t scored a goal since mid-November but is higher than Kane

United have the most players in the top 100

Their transfer policy is much-maligned but it appears Manchester United’s players at least hold their high value.

There are 10 United players within the top 100, including Rashford and Bruno Fernandes in the top five, and that’s more than any other club. 

The lesser-spotted James and defender Lindelof are two of the more surprising United inclusions in the list.  

Barcelona are hot on United’s heels with nine players in the top 100, while Manchester City and Liverpool both have eight and Chelsea seven.

Clubs most represented in top 100 

10 players – Manchester United

9 – Barcelona

8 – Liverpool, Manchester City

7 – Chelsea

6 – Bayern Munich

5 – Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Juventus

4 – Atletico Madrid, Tottenham, Real Madrid

3 – Napoli

2 – Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Leicester City, Sevilla, Wolves, Everton

1 – Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad, AC Milan, West Ham, Rennes, RB Leipzig, Villarreal, Lazio

Anthony Martial (left) and Harry Maguire (right) are among 10 United players in the top 100

But what happened to Real Madrid?

By contrast, this is most definitely not a ‘Galactico’ era at Real Madrid. They continue to be linked with the world’s best players but the current squad at the Bernabeu apparently has limited value.

You have to go right down to No 50 to find a Real player – midfielder Federico Valverde, who is valued at £67.2m – with Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior and Casemiro further down the ranking.

Real may be the reigning Spanish champions but they’re far from a top vintage.

Federico Valverde (right) is the highest-ranked Real Madrid player, coming in at No 50 

Where’s Neymar and Pogba?

Often there’s more fun in spotting the famous players who don’t make the list as opposed to those that do.

PSG’s Neymar, for instance, is valued at somewhere between £27m and £36m, putting him well short of the top 100. He is contracted to PSG until the summer of 2022, is aged only 28 so potentially has one more big move in him and is enjoying a pretty good season.

So it’s slightly surprising to see so under-valued. His injury issues must be the key factor.

As for Paul Pogba, he is valued at between £18m and £27m on the CIES tool, which isn’t exactly the best news for United if they wish to offload him.

His contract also runs out next year and he is very much in his prime – or should be – but several years of unconvincing performances at Old Trafford seems to have severely dented his worth.

PSG’s Neymar (left) and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (right) are both considered world class players but fall well short of top 100 valuations

Do we not appreciate goalkeepers?

The top places include a fair mix of defenders, midfielder and strikers but you have to go down to No 44 to find a goalkeeper.

It makes perfect sense this keeper is Manchester City’s Ederson Moraes, one of the world’s best, but his value of just under £72m really does suggest keepers are under-appreciated compared to goalscorers.

Ederson has a long-term contract at City and has more than doubled his value since City signed him for £35m but is the top keeper really worth less than half the amount of the top striker on the list?

Manchester City’s Ederson is the most valuable goalkeeper on the list at around £72million

It’s all about the contracts

The main conclusion to draw from the latest list is that contracts are the most important of all the factors that go onto the algorithm.

It explains why PSG’s Kylian Mbappe tumbled down to fifth place as his value depreciates with only 18 months of his contract remaining.

Mbappe, 22, is one of the best forwards in the world and holds a value of £135m despite the relatively short time until his current deal at PSG expires.

But the importance club place on securing their best talent to long-term contracts is shown by the fact only Messi in the top 100 has a contract due to expire before Mbappe’s.

Everyone else is contracted to their clubs until 2023 at least as it’s the most effective way of preserving value.

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