With the 2022 World Cup mere days away, the CIES Football Observatory has been busily raking through the data to estimate which players taking part in Qatar would move for the highest transfer fee if they were to switch clubs in the upcoming winter window.
The CIES uses its bespoke algorithm to assign transfer values to each player called up by one of the 32 national teams taking part, and together they have a combined value of €15 billion.
The most valuable player in each squad has also been named based on age, experience, the level at which they play their club football and the remaining duration of their current contract.
Having scoured the latest report, here are the main talking points.
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Most valuable player at the World Cup
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is ranked by CIES as the most valuable player at the 2022 World Cup with an estimated transfer value of €202m.
The 19-year-old England international is narrowly ahead of Vinicius Junior, with Real Madrid’s star Brazil forward valued at €201m, making him the most coveted player in the Selecao‘s 26-man tournament selection.
Despite his Paris Saint-Germain contract being due to expire in the summer of 2024, Kylian Mbappe still emerges as Les Bleus‘most valuable player and the third-highest overall at €185m.
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens can’t understand Borussia Dortmund’s stance on the future of midfielder Jude Bellingham.
Most valuable squad
England have the most valuable squad at the 2022 World Cup, according to the CIES, with a cumulative total of €1,499bn. While Bellingham alone accounts for 13.5% of that total, it is also boosted by teammates such as Phil Foden (€200m), Bukayo Saka (€120m) and Mason Mount (€100m).
Brazil have the second-highest value squad at €1,455bn, largely thanks to their contingent of Real Madrid players. As well as Vinicius, Eder Militao and Rodrygo are both worth €110m while Arsenal duo Gabriel Jesus (€120m) and Gabriel Martinelli (€100m) are also up there. Neymar, whose €222m transfer to PSG in 2017 remains a world record, is valued at €70m by the CIES.
Reigning world champions France are third at €1.34bn. Les Bleus retain their place on the podium even after the withdrawal through injury of Christopher Nkunku (€120m) as they still have young stars like Real Madrid duo Aurelien Tchouameni (€100m) and Eduardo Camavinga (€90m) as well as Ousmane Dembele, Kingsley Coman and William Saliba (all €70m).
Least valuable squad
Costa Rica has the lowest cumulative squad value of all the countries set to compete at the World Cup, according to CIES, with a total of €23m. Paris Saint-Germain’s 35-year-old goalkeeper Keylor Navas, winner of three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, leads the way as their most valuable player at €4m.
Host nation Qatar are next with an overall squad valuation of €29m with their highest individual player, Almoez Ali of Al-Duhail, also valued at €4m.
Messi and Ronaldo
By CIES’ calculations, neither Lionel Messi (€25m) nor Cristiano Ronaldo (€20m) emerge as their nations’ most valuable player among Argentina and Portugal’s respective World Cup selections.
Argentina have Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan (€99m) while Portugal sees Ruben Dias of Manchester City (€118m) take the top spot in their list of estimated transfer values, leaving the two most decorated players in the world lagging behind.
European elite dominate top spots
While five different confederations are represented, the highest-valued players among the 27 highest-valued World Cup squads all ply their trade at a club in one of Europe’s “Big Five” leagues — the Premier League, LaLiga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.
Indeed, the highest-value player at the World Cup to play outside of Europe’s big five is Iran’s Mehdi Taremi (€20m), who plays in the Portuguese Primera Division with Porto.