The most valuable footballers today

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French striker Kylian Mbappe remains the world's most valuable player at the beginning of 2020, just as he was at the beginning of the previous year.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was valued at about $293 million in early January by the CIES Football Observatory, which is part of the International Center for Sports Studies in Switzerland. That valuation is based on an algorithm that considers age, contract duration, results, capacity and commercial power.

However, Mbappe's teammate in PSG, Neymar Junior speaking at the last transfers (in spanish: últimos fichajes), did not do as well in 2019, and his value gradually decreased during the year. By early 2019, Neymar was the third most valuable player in the world, with an estimated value of $225 million. By January 6th , 2020, he was worth $111 million and had dropped to 19 in the rankings behind players like Everton's Richarlison and Chelsea's Tammy Abraham.

In addition to the overall depreciation because Neymar is a year older and is one year closer to the end of his contract, 2019 has seen him spend as much time in the physical therapy room as on the field. A foot injury kept him on the sidelines from January through the end of April, and a hamstring injury and other fitness concerns saw him lose eight league games this season as well. His future is uncertain, but once that is cleared up, whether it's a new contract at PSG or a return to Barcelona, his value is likely to increase.

One of the players with the biggest increase in value is Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, who went from 22nd on the list last year to fourth on this year's list with an estimated value of $186 million. Liverpool and Manchester United fans may be urging their team to try to take it to the Premier League this summer, but if it keeps up its form, it could even take a world-record fee to sign Sancho from Dortmund.

  1. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) $293,000
  2. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) $247 thousand.
  3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) $ 193 thousand.
  4. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) $186,000
  5. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) $172,000.

However, the overall value of the world's best soccer players has declined somewhat since last year and this can be seen in the news transfer market (noticias mercado de fichajes), with only six players valued above 150 million euros ($165 million) compared to 12 players at the beginning of last year. 20 players were valued at over 100 million euros ($110 million) this January, down from 27 players last year. This trend continues even when changes in the exchange rate over the past year are taken into account.

As the strength of the club and the league they are selling is part of the algorithm, it is perhaps not surprising that the Premier League dominates the list with 22 of the top 50 players and 11 of the top 20 in the Premier League, including 7 players in Liverpool's Top 50. This indicates that Liverpool are in a strong position when it comes to holding on to their players and that it will take a lot to reward one of their best players outside of Anfield.

The list also highlights Manchester United's failures in the transfer market in recent years, as despite spending a fortune on transfer fees, only Marcus Rashford, who is in seventh place, and Paul Pogba in 48th place on the list, are in the top 50.

The ratings also show the premium put forward, which make up the top ten. The highest rated defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold is ranked 15th on the list, while the Golden Ball runner-up Virgil Van Dijk is 29th, followed by Mason Monte and Nicolas Pepe. Van Dijk's rating is a reminder that a player's ability is not always reflected in his market value or transfer fee.

For better or worse (in most cases, worse) soccer is a game of money, as evidenced by the rise of Cristiano Ronaldo to become the world's first sports billionaire. Stupid, exorbitant, enough to make even the toughest capitalist feel a little uncomfortable.

But that's what he is, with endless reserves of questionable cash poured daily into sports. And that means that the market for the game's most talented players, long seen as one of the biggest problems in modern gaming, is still out of control. While only a few years ago million dollar transfer fees were breaking records, clubs can now impose nine-figure transfer fees for their most valuable assets.

Every year, the numbers become more and more amazing and can be validated on transfer market news pages, but what can be surprising is that the historically most valuable (and even better paid) players in the game are no longer necessarily seen as such. According to the Swiss organization CIES Football Observatory, which annually records the values of soccer players and clubs, Lionel Messi is only the 21st most valuable player in the world, while the aforementioned Ronaldo is ranked 70th.

We are looking at the latest generation of talent who have moved up the ranks and changed the way the game is played as they have done, who now have some of the greatest price tags ever seen in any sport. 

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