Paris Saint-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappé has been identified as the most valuable under 21 player in the world in the 2018 edition of the Soccerex 20 Under 21 report by Prime Time Sport.
The teenager, who lit up the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was named the best young player of the tournament, is valued at £170.2m (€192.3m) in the Soccerex Study.
Mbappé becomes the first player to be valued at more than £100m in the annual report which uses Prime Time Sport’s Football Value Index, to rank footballers born on or after 1st January 1997.
Mbappé enjoyed a strong debut season in Paris and delivered some stellar performances in Russia, including a goal in the final as France beat Croatia. His valuation is more than twice that of the second ranked player, Manchester United & England striker, Marcus Rashford who is valued at £78.9m (€89.2m).
The top three is completed by Manchester City and Brazil striker, Gabriel Jesus who is ranked third with a valuation of £77.9m (€88.0m).
The Soccerex Report utilises the Football Value Index compiled by Prime Time Sport and takes into account the player’s age, position, current club, contract length, market value perception, international caps, minutes played, goals, injuries and technical quality from a variety of sources to arrive at a final valuation.
The “Neymar Effect”
The transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last summer had a dramatic effect on the market, driving up player values and leading to multiple transfers over £100m, including Mbappé’s move to PSG. The “Neymar Effect” is clearly evidenced in this year’s Soccerex 20 Under 21 Report, with total combined player values topping €1bn for the first time, a 66% increase on last year’s combined total.
As part of this increase, the value of the top three players increased more than 100% compared with 2017 and the value of this year’s number one ranked player, Kylian Mbappé, increased by an amazing 211%.
England trio make a top 20 dominated by France
England’s Marcus Rashford is joined in the top 20 by his international colleague Trent Alexander-Arnold who is ranked 11th, one place ahead of Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon who is valued at £45.5m (€51.3m) despite having never played in the Premier League. With England triumphing in the recent U20 and U17 FIFA World Cups, we could easily see more English players featured in next year’s report.
Newly crowned World Champions, France has the most players in the top 20 with five, including Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé who is ranked 4th compared to his 3rd position in 2017. His drop in position and relatively low value in relation to the fee Barcelona paid Borussia Dortmund can be attributed to the unique market forces created by Neymar’s sale and also to the limited number of minutes Dembélé was able to play following a serious injury at the beginning of the season.
The North America feature, but no Germany
The North American region is represented in ranking for the first time with two players featuring – USA’s Christian Pulisic is at number eight and Jamaica’s Leon Bailey at number nine. Both players currently ply their trade in the Bundesliga. Despite the league’s reputation for fostering young talent – and there are three players from the Bundesliga in this year’s report – for the first time there are no German players in the top 20.
The rest of the top 20 is made up from players from Brazil (4), Italy (3), Spain (1), The Netherlands (1) and Turkey (1).
From a league perspective, Serie A and Ligue 1 jointly have the most representatives in the top 20 with four each. There are four who play in the Premier League as of this season but Ryan Sessegnon was playing in the Championship during the period of evaluation. La Liga provide two players from last season, with another player joining the league this season and a fourth in 2019/20 season, both signed by Real Madrid.
The rise of the “new wingers”
In this year’s report 12 of the top 20 – and 7 of the top 10 – are wide men, although few would be considered wingers in the traditional sense. The majority are forward players who start from wide positions and who are comfortable playing anywhere across the front line.
This is a change from past reports which have seen the biggest clusters in the more traditional “spine” of central defence, central midfield or the striker position.
AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma features for the third consecutive year as the most valuable goalkeeper, the only one in the top 20. Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt is the most valuable centre back and Olympique Lyonnais’ Houssem Aouar the most expensive central midfielder.
Commenting on this year’s Soccerex 20 Under 21 report by Prime Time Sport, Soccerex’s David Wright said: “It will come as little surprise that Kylian Mbappé tops this report. He is football’s next global superstar and this is reflected in the huge increase in his valuation. The sharp rises in value we have seen this year are symptomatic of the seismic impact Neymar’s transfer had on the market and show just how much clubs will need to invest in order to secure the world’s best young talent”.