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Erling Haaland, Vinicius Jr & Bukayo Saka ranked as ‘world’s most expensive’ players by researchers

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is the world’s most expensive player and valued at 245.1m euros (£211.2m), a new study says.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr and Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka are ranked second and third respectively in the CIES Football Observatory’s latest report.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham came in at number four.

Benfica defender Antonio Silva is the highest ranked player outside of Europe’s big five leagues.

The CIES Football Observatory utilised a wide variety of measures to create a scientific model, estimating the top 100 most expensive players.

The study took into account over 2,000 transactions of players transferred for money from clubs in the five major European leagues during the period July 2012 to November 2021.

Length of contract with players’ current clubs was also considered as well as age, goals, assists and appearances for the national team.

Haaland leads the way

After a record-breaking season with Manchester City, Haaland is rated as the most expensive player in world football.

The Norway international, 22, won the Premier League’s Golden Boot award this season with 36 goals in 35 appearances as City successfully defended their Premier League title.

He also helped them win the FA Cup following his £51.2million switch from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

City triggered a release clause in Haaland’s contract to acquire his services for a snip of what he was actually worth and his reputation has grown further since linking up with manager Pep Guardiola.

If City beat Inter Milan in the Champions League final on Saturday, completing a memorable treble, his value no doubt would rise further. He is contracted at City until the summer of 2027.

Saka’s stock continues to rise

Arsenal and England forward Saka, 21, has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become one of the most highly-rated players in world football.

The academy graduate made his Premier League debut in January 2019 and has been a regular starter for his boyhood club since 2019-20.

His ability to score and create chances almost led Arsenal to their first league title since 2004 last season, finishing second, while he is a firm fixture in Gareth Southgate’s England starting XI.

The CIES metrics placed Saka as the third most expensive player, potentially commanding a fee of 195.8m euros (£168.7m).

However, he doesn’t look likely to be on the move any time soon after the Gunners tied down their top asset with a new deal which runs until May 2027.

Real Madrid superstar Vinicius, 22, sits just ahead of Saka in the rankings, valued at 196.3m euros (£169.1m).

The Brazilian is just over a year older than Saka but his current deal with Los Blancos is set to expire in the summer of 2024.

Interestingly, the CIES study found that Vinicius would carry a value of 314.9m euros (£271.3m) – knocking Haaland off top spot – if he was committed to a contract that ran longer than three years.

Teenage kicks

Bellingham, 19, is already showing major leadership qualities and has worn the captain’s armband during his time in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.

He is fourth on the list with an expected value of 190.2m euros (£163.9m).

The England international, who is understood to be in advanced talks to join Real Madrid this summer, joined Dortmund from Birmingham for a fee of £30m including add-ons in 2020.

Dortmund are set to make a healthy profit if he does depart for the Spanish capital.

Big five domination

Benfica's Antonio Silva celebrates after scoring against Sporting CP
Antonio Silva scored three goals in 30 league appearances for Benfica

Europe’s big five leagues – the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – are the driving force behind the largest expected fees on the list.

Benfica centre back Silva, 19, who sits 23rd in the rankings, is the most highly-valued player, priced at 89.5m euros (£77.1m) to ply his trade outside of those leagues.

The Portugal international scored three goals in 30 Primeira Liga appearances in 2022-23 as his club won the title.

Just seven players outside of the top five leagues made it into the top 100 list: forward Goncalo Ramos, also of Benfica, PSV midfielder Xavi Simons, Sporting Lisbon defender Goncalo Inacio, Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa and Ajax duo Kenneth Taylor and Mohammed Kudus.

Who is getting value for money?

With the summer transfer window on the horizon, according to the CIES model, there could be some very good deals in the offing.

Brighton midfielder and World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, 24, appears to be on his way out of the Amex with Liverpool hoping to win the race for his signature.

Rated at 78.4m euro (£67.5m) via the model, the latest reports suggest he could be on the move for a fee under £50m.

In contrast, Bayer Leverkusen are said to be demanding a fee in the region of £65million for winger Moussa Diaby, who is reportedly on the radar of Arsenal and Paris St-Germain.

Diaby, 23, should have an expected value of 56.7m euro (£48.8m), according to the CIES report. –