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This article was published on June 7, 2021

AI picks the most valuable footballers in Europe’s top 5 leagues

The algorithm generated some surprises


AI picks the most valuable footballers in Europe’s top 5 leagues Image by: Marco Verch/Kane Brooker/Wikimedia Commons
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

An algorithm has estimated that Manchester City starlet Phil Foden is the most valuable player in Europe’s “big five” football leagues.

The CIES Football Observatory’s model predicted that the 21-year-old is worth a whopping  €190.2M ($231.9M) in the transfer market.

Foden’s England teammates Mason Greenwood (€178M) and Marcus Rashford (€159M) complete the podium, while Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland (€155.5M) takes fourth place in the biannual list.

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England fans may greet the rankings as an encouraging omen for the impending European Championship, but their hopes would be somewhat misplaced.

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As well as estimating a player’s performance, career progression, and age, CIES says its algorithm measures variables including contract length and the level of the league in which they play.

That might explain why Paris Saint Germain phenom Kylian Mbappe hasn’t made the top 10. At just 22-years-old, the striker is already one of the sport’s top players, but his current contract expires next summer, which significantly diminishes his transfer value.

Algorithmic player valuations are also far from an exact science, although the CIES list looks pretty plausible to this fan’s eyes. But its true accuracy should only be judged after the big five’s transfer windows open this summer.

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