From Tickle-Me-Elmo to the Nintendo Wii, Black Friday can send bargain hunters into a consumerist frenzy.
With the United States and England playing each other in a World Cup match on this sacred day of spending and the holiday season that is the January transfer window right around the corner, we checked the CIES Football Observatory’s estimated transfer fee valuations on a handful of players from each side who ply their trades in Europe’s top five leagues. Which players currently bear can’t-miss valuations, and whose estimations would keep potential suitors from camping outside the club shop, waiting for the doors to open? Of course a player’s actual value is decided by the open market, in all its less-than-rational glory, so these figures shouldn’t be taken as gospel. But this type of online shopping sure beats buying a blender you’re not going to use just because it’s marked 30 per cent off.
All valuations accurate as of November 14, 2022.
Is Jude Bellingham, born in Stourbridge in the Black Country (that’s near to Birmingham in the Midlands, by the way) the greatest footballer who has ever lived? CIES estimate his value to be up to €250million (£214m, $260m), which would make him the most expensive footballer of all time.
Not bad for a 19-year-old who was playing for Birmingham City two years ago. It’s a mark of his phenomenal rise, via a couple of outstanding years with Borussia Dortmund to now perhaps being the centrepiece of England’s team, let alone their midfield.
Obviously that valuation seems faintly ludicrous but there’s no doubt he’s into three-figure millions in the “real world” of football transfers now.
Bellingham has the highest valuation of England’s 26 players in Qatar. The cheapest, and therefore least valuable, is surprisingly a 30-year-old striker who is playing for the third-best team in England. A man who basically scored in the World Cup the other day, as well — except he extremely unselfishly squared to Jack Grealish for England’s sixth goal against Iran. Should have gone alone, Callum. You’d be worth €7million now.
Also at the lower end of the scale is defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips, a man with six years left on his current contract and who is in the prime of his career at 26 years old. Manchester City paid around €50million for him in the summer so they’d be slightly miffed with this valuation (as they would with CIES for saying Jack Grealish is worth up to €60million not long after his nine-figure move last year). And you’d imagine the player himself would be irked too, seen as his fellow midfielder Bellingham is the equivalent of 25 Kalvin Phillipses.
If Reece James hadn’t injured his knee and missed out on Qatar, Alexander-Arnold might not even have made the England squad. There’s a chance he might not even get on the pitch during the tournament. But he’s the sixth-most valuable player on the list, which Liverpool fans would no doubt agree with.
One of the most talented players of his generation… but only third-choice right-back for England. That’s how good they are. It’s coming home, isn’t it?
Verdict: Fair price
Manchester City’s valuations don’t come up well on this list… they reportedly were willing to pay €140million for Kane last summer.
In truth, he’s invaluable to Tottenham Hotspur and also to England.
Verdict: Fair price
England’s wildcard. For reasons unknown, Gareth Southgate didn’t pick Maddison for three years, but the 26-year-old was recalled in the nick of time for a surprise Qatar squad spot.
Now, injury may ruin this, but if Maddison does play, he’s in the form of his life, so expect him to shine and for his value to soar. Leicester could be quids in.
A good left back is hard to come by. Just ask the USMNT, which had to utilize players out of the position for multiple cycles in a row before Robinson’s emergence. Since moving away from Everton in 2019, the Milton Keynes native has cemented his place on Gregg Berhalter’s team sheet and proven to be at a Premier League level with Fulham. Throw in the marketability of a man who goes by the nickname “Jedi,” and you’ve got a doorbuster.
Adams joined Leeds this summer from RB Leipzig for €17 million, so this valuation looks about right at first glance. However, it’s worth comparing his transition to the Premier League to that of Cheick Doucoure, who signed with Crystal Palace for €22.6million from Lens. Adams has a 67.4 per cent rate of tackling opponents who are dribbling, better than Doucoure’s 55 per cent clip, while the U.S. captain also manages an additional progressive pass per 90 minutes (4.46 to 3.46) and more passes into the final third per 90 (4.69 to 4.02). Considering what he fetched over the summer, Adams’ consistency makes it looks like a shrewd pickup.
McKennie made his permanent move to Turin in 2021 at a €20.5million price point. His global star has taken off since then, as he’s become one of the U.S.’s most marketable male soccer players and a staple of the men’s national team. Given McKennie’s injury issues and inconsistency on the ball, it’s still a bit steep for my taste.
Yunus Musah, Valencia — up to €35million
See McKennie’s section for comparable central midfielders. Musah has been the latest breakout U.S. starlet, becoming the team’s first teenager to start a World Cup match on Monday. Throw in the fact that he counts as a domestic player for Premier League sides, and the 19-year-old would be my pick of the M’s in Berhalter’s MMA (Musah, McKennie, Adams) midfield.
Despite having a clear positional fit for Graham Potter’s base formation, Pulisic has continued to be a rotational figure at Chelsea. When put in a role that caters to his strengths, he can still take over a game at times and provide good interplay in transition. Considering how marketable he is, the introverted star is at a fair value; the only question is if the Blues would be willing to lose a bit of money from his €64million fee when he signed from Borussia Dortmund.
Verdict: Fair price
Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund — up to €3million
Dortmund could have hardly timed Pulisic’s move to London better given his compatriot waiting in the wings. When healthy, Reyna has become a trusted player by Edin Terzic. Of course, that’s a dangerous caveat when finalizing a transfer fee. Still, Reyna may have the highest ceiling of any U.S. player, and counts as a domestic signing for the Premier League. If Dortmund really would part with the oft-injured, Sunderland-born attacking midfielder for half of what Pulisic fetched, teams should be lining up to bring him in.
Brenden Aaronson, Leeds United — up to €40million
“Medford Messi” became Leeds’ record signing as soon as they avoiding relegation, moving from Red Bull Salzburg for around €27million. He hasn’t wasted time in transitioning to the Premier League, playing 95 per cent of his team’s minutes and filling a crucial role in Jesse Marsch’s pressing system. For a fresh-faced 22-year-old who hasn’t looked out of place in a top league, €40million isn’t laughable — even if his all-around game outweighs his goal and assist output (one and two, respectively, through 14 league matches).
Verdict: Fair price
Timothy Weah, LOSC Lille — up to €15million
If Robinson is a doorbuster, Weah’s price tag should have clubs banging on the shop doors days in advance. The 22-year-old joined Lille from PSG in 2019 and is an incredibly versatile option in the final third. He’s capable of playing inverted on the left, filling a role as an advanced forward and (as he does so often for the U.S.) offering a true wing option on the right. Throw in his newly minted status as a World Cup goalscorer, his lineage of soccer royalty and his impeccable fashion sense, and Weah would be a no-brainer for many clubs.
(Image: Eamonn Dalton / The Athletic; Photos: Richard Heathcote, Ryan Pierse, Stu Forster, Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)