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Squad valuation: six clubs over one billion

The 287th edition of the Weekly Post ranks clubs from the five major European leagues according to the value on the transfer market of players under contract. The analysis takes into account the 20 players per club with the highest values as per the algorithm exclusively developed by the CIES Football Observatory research team.

With an aggregated value of €1.4 billion, Liverpool heads the table. Jürgen Klopp’s team outranks Manchester City, the two Spanish giants (Barcelona and Real Madrid) and Chelsea. The valuation of the latter team has strongly increased thanks to the outbreak of many young talents following the transfer ban imposed by FIFA to the London club. The German side Paderborn is at the bottom of the table.

The estimate ranges for all of the big-5 league players with a sufficient level of professional experience are freely available here. The 53rd Monthly Report presents the variables included in the statistical model developed by the CIES Football Observatory to assess the transfer values of professional footballers on a scientific basis.

Most precocious players: Donnarumma and Hazard at the top

The 286th CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks current big-5 league players according to the age at which they have reached 50, 100, 200 and 300 caps in these competitions. The Milan AC goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leads the 50 and 100-match tables, while the Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard is at the top for the 200 and 300-match rankings.

Gianluigi Donnarumma played his 50th game in the big-5 even before his 18th birthday, and the 100th at 19.2 years of age only! In both cases, he outranks another goalkeeper, the French Alban Lafont (FC Nantes). The Basque Iker Muniain (Athletic Club) is the outfield footballer having reached the earliest the 50 and 100 caps in the big-5: at 18.2 and 19.8 years of age respectively.

Eden Hazard holds the records of precocity for both the 200 and 300 big-5 league matches. The Belgian was only 23 years old when he played his 200th game in the five major European championships. He is the only player currently in the big-5 who reached his 300th cap before 26 years of age. Five additional footballers played 300 games before their 27th birthday: James Milner, Moussa Sissoko, Iker Muniain, Miralem Pjanić and Cesc Fàbregas.

Big chances created: a fabulous four headed by Messi

Issue number 285 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post highlights the players who created the most big chances for their teammates in big-5 league matches over three different periods: last year, last three years and last five years. Lionel Messi is clearly at the head of the tables for the last five and three years, while Ángel Di María tops the last-year rankings.

According to the data from OptaPro, over the five past years, Lionel Messi created a big chance every 90 minutes. The frequency of big chances created by the Argentinean went even up during the last year (87 minutes). This clearly indicates that the Barcelona prodigy is far from being on the downhill slope of his career.

At the second and third positions for the different periods analysed are Ángel Di María and Kevin de Bruyne for the last five years, Thomas Müller and Kevin de Bruyne for the past three, as well as Thomas Müller and Lionel Messi for the last one. During last year, besides Lionel Messi, three other players have created at least one big chance every 90 minutes: Thomas Müller (every 72 minutes), Ángel Di María (82 minutes) and Kevin de Bruyne (every 87 minutes). This is the fab four for chance creation!

How aggressive is your football? From Bolivia to Japan

Issue number 284 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks 92 top divisions worldwide according to the average number of cards (yellow and red) per game during the current or the last completed one. The figures range from 2.3 in Japan up to 7.0 in Bolivia. Within Europe, the extreme values were recorded in Norway (3.1) and Ukraine (6.2).

The study reveals great geographical differences in aggressiveness put in the game. Eight out of the ten leagues with the most cards are from Latin America: Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. At the opposite end, three of the five leagues with the least cards are from Asia: Japan, Vietnam and South Korea.

The values for the five major European leagues vary between 3.7 cards per game in the English Premier League and 5.8 in the Italian Serie A. Per club, the figures vary between 1.0 for Borussia Dortmund and 3.7 for Bologna, while at worldwide level they range between 0.8 for FC Tokyo and 4.0 for Montevideo Wanderers.

Technical report on the Major League Soccer

The renewal of the fruitful collaboration with OptaPro has allowed the CIES Football Observatory to innovate by developing its first ever technical report on a non-European competition: the Major League Soccer (MLS) of the United States and Canada. The 52nd Monthly Report compares the style of play of the MLS with that of the five major European leagues.

The style of football played in the MLS differs from that of the big-5 in two principal aspects: the pressing on opponents and the aerial game. The average number of duels per match recorded in the MLS is lower than that observed in each of the five major European leagues. This reflects the lesser pressure applied by players on whoever has possession. Consequently, MLS teams have the opportunity to take more shots.

Partly due to the lesser pressure on the player who has possession, the MLS footballers privilege the passing game on the ground. This is reflected in a much lower number of aerial duels: -14% in comparison to the big-5 and -25% in comparison to the English Premier League. The MLS teams also carry out fewer crosses than clubs in any of the five major European leagues.

While the Major League Soccer has already undergone significant development over the past decade, the enthusiasm for soccer in the United States, with the organisation of the FIFA World Cup in focus, will allow the competition to grow further, both economically and sportingly. MLS teams will thus be able to attract more top talents from abroad.

The challenge will also be to develop better footballers on site and retaining them for longer. While some of them will continue to join the best performing European clubs, the eventual improvement of the training system will strengthen the US national team, with very positive fallout for the MLS development and the popularity of soccer across the nation at large. Go to the Report.

From Chelsea to Real Madrid: net transfer spending

Issue number 283 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the financial balance for transfers carried out by clubs worldwide during the last two transfer windows. Real Madrid recorded the most negative balance (- €181 million) ahead of Aston Villa (- €169 m) and Barcelona (- €166 m). At the opposite end of the table are Chelsea (+ €205 m), Benfica (+ €167) and Ajax (+ €137 m).

The seven fee paying transfers concluded by Real Madrid during the summer 2019 and winter 2020 transfer windows had a total estimated cost of €330 m (add-ons included). During the same period, the incomes generated by the Spanish team for the release of seven other players were €149 m. On its side, Chelsea earned €250 by transferring 16 footballers, while it only spent €45 m to reinforce its squad (Mateo Kovačić).

At the level of the five major European leagues, the net balance for transfer operations range from - €844 million for the English Premier League and + €106 m for the French Ligue 1. Negative balances were also recorded in the Spanish Liga (- € 418 m), the Italian Serie A (- € 407 m) and the German Bundesliga (- € 263 m).

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