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How are Premier League stars valued?

LONDON, UK - May 2021: Premier league football logo on a smartphone screen.

The Premier League is big business. First launched in 1992, over the past three decades it has developed into the commercial behemoth it is now. The main factor fuelling that growth is the league’s television rights deal, the latest of which was agreed with Sky and TNT Sports for £6.7 billion over four years.

It’s the TV money that makes the Premier League’s world go around, but it’s the players themselves who are at the heart of the product. Without them, there would be nothing for the league to market. The most expensive stars command transfer fees well in excess of £100 million – and that’s before wages are even discussed. So, what are the factors that determine a Premier League player’s value?

Market supply and demand

As in almost any other business, a player’s value is heavily influenced by the basic economic principles of supply and demand. If a club is in desperate need of a striker to score goals, for example, the selling club can hold out for a larger fee because they know their rivals can ill-afford to be toothless at the top end of the pitch. Similarly, those with greater spending power often end up paying a premium for top talent because the selling club know they have the money available. This can have the effect of inflating market values across the board.

Age and potential

Younger players often have higher valuations due to their potential future contributions and longer careers ahead. For example, England internationals Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker both play right-back (although Alexander-Arnold has often been used in midfield by club and country). The former is 25 years old and could enjoy another decade at the top of the game. Walker, meanwhile, is 33 and perhaps only has two or three years ahead of him at the elite level. Because of that, it’s fair to say the Liverpool man would command a much higher transfer fee than his Manchester City counterpart.

Player performance and statistics

Metrics such as goals, assists, clean sheets and other defensive interventions are all critical in assessing a player’s value. Advanced analytics are increasingly used to predict future performance, influencing how clubs perceive a player’s worth. Injury records will also play a part. Those who rarely miss games are likely to be valued more highly than those of a similar talent but with a long history of fitness problems.

Commercial appeal and marketability

In the digital age, clubs have to consider more than what a player can do on the pitch. They will also take into account their appeal through social media presence, personal branding and commercial endorsements. Players who are able to engage with fans globally often have a higher value, which clubs capitalise on through merchandise and promotional activities. For instance, a player’s popularity can lead to increased shirt sales, which adds a commercial justification to their high transfer fees.

 

The success of Premier League clubs relies heavily on their recruitment, and managers and directors of football stake their reputations on the players they bring in. With so many factors to consider when evaluating a potential signing, the pressure at the top of the domestic game is not for the faint-hearted.

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