Football transfer fees continue to soar to astronomical figures, but who are the most valuable players in the world right now?
The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) has attempted to rank the most valuable footballers in the game, with each of the top ten valued in excess of £100m.
10. Federico Valverde – £109.1m
Federico Valverde ranks in at number ten (£109.1m) with his placing reflective of the midfielder’s growing importance at Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants secured a deal for Valverde as a teenager and the 24-year-old has since developed into one of the most effective midfielders in world football. All-action and tenacious, he has thrived in a box-to-box role from either the flank or through the centre and will be a key figure in Real’s rebuild of their engine room moving forward.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 16, 2022
This season he has demonstrated an improving end product in the final third, with eight goals in 19 starts across all competitions. He managed just six goals across the previous four seasons combined and has evolved into an irreplaceable figure in Carlo Ancelotti’s plans.
9. Josko Gvardiol – £111.1m
Europe’s top clubs are jostling for position in the race to sign Josko Gvardiol, who the CIES Football Observatory have ranked as the most valuable defender in world football.
Gvardiol has attracted significant interest since swapping Dinamo Zagreb for RB Leipzig 18 months ago, producing a series of impressive performances to emerge as one of the Bundesliga’s brightest talents.
Joško Gvardiol completed more take-ons than any other centre-back in Europe's top five leagues in 2021/22 and played more passes into the final third than any other Bundesliga centre-back.
And he's actually left-footed. 😏pic.twitter.com/nXxJJEqlMf
— Squawka (@Squawka) July 25, 2022
Progressive in both his ball-carrying and passing from the backline, the 20-year-old enhanced his reputation during Croatia’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar. Chelsea registered an interest in his services last summer and could return with renewed intent. Leipzig, however, will not allow him to leave on the cheap.
8. Jamal Musiala – £128.1m
Jamal Musiala is in the midst of a breakthrough season at Bayern Munich, having risen from precocious prospect to bonafide star.
No player has been directly involved in more Bundesliga goals this season than the teenager, who has scored nine goals and provided a further six assists in just 12 league starts. The midfielder was among the few players to emerge from Germany’s World Cup campaign with credit, where his effectiveness in beating defenders and creating opportunities was evident.
18 – Jamal #Musiala is the teenager with the most goal contributions in the top-5-leagues in 2022 (18 – 11 goals and 7 assists). Two more #Bundesliga players, Youssoufa #Moukoko and Jude #Bellingham, rank in the Top 5. Development. pic.twitter.com/DoLPovt1Wu
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 30, 2022
The 19-year-old was named as Bayern Munich’s Player of the Year for 2022 and appears to be getting better and better in Julian Nagelsmann’s system.
7. Gavi – £130.4m
Barcelona’s rebuild will be centred around the club’s emerging midfield talents, with Gavi having emerged from the club’s La Masia system to become a central figure in the side.
The teenager broke into the side last season and has since become a fixture, setting numerous records for club and country. He became Spain’s youngest debutant and goalscorer in 2022, before becoming the second-youngest player – after Pelé – to score at a World Cup in Qatar.
Gavi presents his Golden Boy award. pic.twitter.com/IZNbQOvvJu
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) December 31, 2022
His game is built around the hallmarks of Barcelona’s youth system, with Gavi boasting technical excellence in enclosed spaces and a fluid change of pace that makes him difficult to dispossess.
Winner of both the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy in 2022, he does not turn 19 until August and has already amassed 69 appearances for Barcelona. The Catalans have a long history of producing elite midfielders and Gavi looks set to be the next product to reach the very top.
6. Pedri – £150.3m
Barcelona will hope that Pedri and Gavi can form the spine of their side for the next decade, with the duo having earned comparisons to Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Pedri has developed into one of the most exciting talents in world football since swapping Las Palmas from Barcelona, where he has since enjoyed a meteoric rise. The 20-year-old is the perfect profile for a Barcelona number eight, with his combination of work-rate, confidence and technical talent standing out.
Pedri is a big-time playmaker pic.twitter.com/H4ySmzifs2
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 9, 2023
Always willing to receive the ball in tight areas and possessing a cool composure in possession, he is already closing in on a century of appearances for Barcelona.
Winner of the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy in 2021, he was also named as the Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2020 as Spain reached the last four.
5. Erling Haaland – £154.5m
Erling Haaland is ranked at number five among the world’s most valuable players, with a Premier League audience having witnessed first hand the devastating talent of the forward this season.
Haaland has made a mockery of suggestions that he would need time to adapt to the division, breaking numerous records during a goal-laden start at Manchester City. He has scored 21 goals in just 16 league appearances for City this season, a run which includes a record-breaking three consecutive home hat-tricks.
Erling Haaland's goalscoring record this season is a joke 🥵 pic.twitter.com/hOj8J0FUXc
— GOAL (@goal) January 6, 2023
Defences have struggled to stop City’s goal-hungry forward, who is on course to break several Premier League records at his current trajectory.
Time will tell if the Norwegian is the missing piece to City’s quest for Champions League success. The early signs are encouraging.
4. Vinicius Junior – £168.2m
Vinicius Junior’s value has rocketed following a coming-of-age season at Real Madrid in 2021/22.
The Brazilian began to fulfil his vast potential with a superb season last term, as he dovetailed with Karim Benzema to inspire the Spanish side to La Liga and Champions League success.
Vinicius scored 22 goals and laid on a further 20 assists in 52 appearances, proving the perfect accomplice for Benzema during the latter’s Ballon d’Or-winning campaign.
This season the 22-year-old has continued in a similar vein, with 15 goal contributions in 23 appearances. Full of flair, trickery and improving end product, he has emerged as one of the best wingers in world football.
3. Kylian Mbappe – £168.4m
Is Kylian Mbappe the best player in world football right now?
His performances at the World Cup lend weight to that argument, following an explosive tournament that saw Mbappe win the Golden Boot and become just the second player to score a hat-trick in the final.
He fell short of his quest to become a two-time World Cup winner, but the numbers of Mbappe’s career to date are already extraordinary.
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) August 23, 2022
In Ligue 1 alone it’s five league titles, four top goalscorer awards, and three Player of the Year accolades, while he’s within just nine goals of Edinson Cavani’s all-time goal record for Paris Saint-Germain.
It’s staggering to summarise Mbappe’s achievements and then recognise that the forward only celebrated his 24th birthday last month. The best might still be to come and that’s a scary thought for Europe’s defences.
2. Phil Foden – £177.7m
Phil Foden is ranked as the second-most valuable player in world football, with Manchester City’s home-grown hero continuing to go from strength to strength.
Since emerging from the club’s academy ranks Foden has developed into a match-winner under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, operating in a number of advanced roles with that signature silky style.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 9, 2023
Arguably English football’s brightest talent, the 22-year-old has already won four Premier League titles and has been named as the PFA Young Player of the Season in consecutive campaigns.
He has 90 goals and assists in 194 appearances for the Citizens, a total that looks set to swell as Foden fulfil his potential. He appears in the ideal environment to reach his ceiling.
1. Jude Bellingham – £183.9m
CIES believe that Jude Bellingham is the most valuable footballer in the world right now, a welcome verdict for Borussia Dortmund as Europe’s top clubs circle for their prized possession.
Bellingham’s reputation has soared across two-and-a-half seasons in Dortmund, where he has progressed from exciting prospect to leader for club and country.
Jude Bellingham is the most valuable player in the world, according to CIES Football Observatory 💸 pic.twitter.com/SD3uB49FQO
— GOAL (@goal) January 6, 2023
Outstanding during England’s World Cup campaign in Qatar, there is a maturity to Bellingham’s game rarely seen in footballers of his age.
Bellingham’s box-to-box brilliance is understood to have Liverpool, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea scrambling to secure his services this summer, with each preparing huge offers to entice the 19-year-old from the Westfalenstadion.