May 10 – UEFA has added a new club competition this season but it is still clubs from the Big 5 leagues that are dominating the final rounds. A report by Football Benchmark links that dominance directly to player and squad values.
The Champions League is obviously the playground for the biggest clubs and only those with the highest squad values survive.
“The aggregate value of the UCL final four sides is more than that of the eight semi-finalists’ in the other two competitions combined. The UCL’s final stages are essentially a closed shop for Europe’s elite clubs – even a Big-5 side as Villarreal this year are more of a surprise participant, also reflected by their squad value, which is around half of the other three sides’,” says the Football Benchmark report.
“In addition, looking at the past five seasons, we find only Ajax making the UCL semi-finals once from a league outside the Big 5.”
While the expansion with the Conference League has seen more than 180 clubs from UEFA’s 50 member associations compete in European club competitions, the Football Benchmark team point out “that squad value differences between the UEL and the UECL gradually disappear as the tournaments progress to their final stages, with top five 5 league representatives making it farther in the competitions.”
However, having the highest squad value doesn’t guarantee a spot in the final with five of the six semi-final ties in UEFA’s club competitions being decided with the side with a lower squad value progressing to the final. The only exception was Liverpool who beat Villarreal, who have a squad valued at less than half that of Liverpool.
So how far can squad value be a determinant of the outcome of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid?
On their player valuation model, Liverpool have a squad value of €998 million against Real Madrid’s €816 million. Though that will not necessarily intimidate Real Madrid who overcame Man City’s €1.1 billion valuation.
Football Benchmark break the valuations down further though, with a projected starting formation for each club and a match-up by valuation.
“Considering the most likely starting IX in a 4-3-3 formation for both sides, Liverpool may seem more potent especially in defense: the aggregate value of their probable defensive line is EUR 276m, compared to Real’s back line worth EUR 197m. Their top three strikers are worth EUR 247m, slightly more than those of Real Madrid at EUR 242m,” says Football Benchmark.
“Regarding the midfields, Liverpool’s players boast a combined value of EUR 115m, while Real’s midfielders are valued at EUR 88m – acknowledging that in our propriety player valuation model, Luka Modric and all other players whose contract is set to expire before the next transfer window (or 1st July 2022) are assigned zero value.”
It could come down to the performances of the two highest valued players on the pitch (note, not necessarily the best players, that is a different debate).
“It is also worth noting that Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is currently the most valuable defender in world football – with a remarkable EUR 54m rise in value since Feb 2019. Similarly, Real Madrid striker Vinícius Júnior boasts an increase of EUR 92m in the same timeframe,” says Football Benchmark.
To see the full report, click here.
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