European soccer’s midseason transfer window—
when clubs are permitted to buy and sell players—
is open for the next month, meaning things could
get a bit crazy in the next few weeks as clubs try
to salvage or cement their seasons with expensive

But if you want to buy the best players it is going
to cost you. A lot.
According to a new study ( )
(pdf) by the CIES Football Observatory, backed by
France’s Université of Franche-Comté and
supported by FIFA, the most expensive soccer
player in the world is Lionel Messi, and he’s worth
a ridiculous €220 million ($261 million). That
means Messi, who starred in last year’s World Cup
for Argentina and plays club soccer for Barcelona
in Spain, remains the most valuable athlete (
barca-barcelona-value-2015-1 ) on the planet.

The above figures are just what the CIES Football
Observatory estimates it would cost in fees for
other clubs to pry away these players from their
existing employers, not what players are actually
paid in salaries. (Last year, Forbes reported (
cristiano-ronaldo-real-madrid/ ) that Cristiano
Ronaldo, the second-most valuable player
according to the CIES analysis, was paid more
than Messi.)

Transfer fees can also be affected by how long a
player has left on its contract. And for what it’s
worth, the CIES Football Observatory says the
above values are calculated as follows:
over 1,500 fee paying transfers occurred since
2009. The variables included in our exclusive
econometric model refer to player performances
(matches, goals, dribbles, etc.), their
characteristics (age, position, contract duration,
etc.), as well as competition level and results
achieved by their teams (clubs and national sides).

The most expensive actual transfer in the history
of soccer remains Gareth Bale’s move ( http://
gareth-bale-real-madrid-tottenham ) from
Tottenham to Real Madrid for €100 million in late
2013. There a couple of dynamics that explain
these jaw dropping numbers.
The first is continued
strength in TV broadcast deals for soccer. The
second is the fact that some of the richest clubs
are backed by people with extremely deep pockets
(like Russian oligarchs, and mideast billionaire
Sheiks) or wealth from property holdings and tacit
support (
and-local-government-aid.html ) from

FIFA has imposed “financial fair play” restrictions
that limit the ability of clubs to rack up losses by
spending on players, although there are signs that
some of the more powerful clubs have already
figured out (
Play-rules-explained.html ) ways around them. So
don’t expect transfer fee inflation to subside any
time soon.
Author : John McDuling


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