Premier League

Sancho, Rashford, Trent, Sterling: Studies suggest England is now top producer of football talent

Research carried out by CIES suggests that English players are among the most valuable in the world and that England is producing more elite players than Germany and Italy.

Sancho, Rashford, Trent, Sterling: Studies suggest England is now top producer of football talent

Four of the top five most valuable footballers in the world are English, according to Swiss-based football research institute the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). Their Football Observatory’s biannual report suggests that only Kylian Mbappé would fetch a higher price than a quartet of English stars.

Mbappe’s value is estimated at €259.2million, considerably more than the current world record fee of €222million paid for his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar Jnr. Behind the Frenchman are English forwards Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho, valued at €194.7million and €179.1million respectively. Both would have expected to have had starring roles in England’s Euro 2020 campaign and have at least two years remaining on their current contracts.

In fourth-place is Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold with an estimated value of €171.1million. He is one of only three defenders in the top 20 (along with Bayern Munich’s Alfonso Davies and Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt) and offers enormous creative output alongside his defensive abilities. Completing the top five is 22-year-old Marcus Rashford who is valued at €152.3million and has four years remaining on his lucrative contract at Manchester United.

The data compiled by CIES takes into account the contractual situation of each player and the number of potential suitors to produce an estimated value. They have also factored in the financial impact of Covid-19 with transfer fees expected to take a hit from the loss of revenue clubs are experiencing.

England a Top Producer of Talent

The CIES have also studied which countries produce the most footballers and England currently rank higher than a number of more successful footballing nations. In an analysis of 55,865 footballers to have played in 225 first or second tier leagues around the world in 2019 they were able to pinpoint the most productive nations. A player’s origin is defined by the association in which they grew up, so Paris-born Riyad Mahrez would be counted as French despite representing Algeria at international level.

Brazil is the highest producer of professional footballers around the world with 2,742 players in the last calendar year, beating neighbours Argentina who contribute 2,330. They are followed by world champions France; then Columbia, Spain and Serbia, whose population of around 7 million have produced 1,337 players. England sit in seventh place with 1,228.

However England move up to fifth in the rankings when adjusted for the relative strength of the clubs that players are playing for. Brazil are top again, followed by France, Spain and Argentina, but England out-perform a number of more successful nations. Four-time World Cup-winners Germany and Italy are in sixth and ninth respectively. Reigning European champions Portugal are eleventh in the standings, just ahead of Russia.

But most notable is the willingness of players produced in England to play abroad, something that had been a rarity in the past. In 2019 only Brazil, France and Argentina had more players operating outside of their national leagues than England.

Following his transfer from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund Jadon Sancho became English football’s most visible export since David Beckham and this move may have contributed to the trend.

With Sancho valued as the third most valuable footballer in the world at the age of 20, it seems likely that this will continue in the years to come.