Value in the transfer market is always hard to gauge, but that feels especially true in the Premier League in this window.
Sadio Mane has left Liverpool for £35million, and Raheem Sterling is on his way out of Manchester City for £45m. Meanwhile, Southampton have reportedly asked for £75m for midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
That comparison is perhaps not fair on Ward-Prowse – Saints’ most important figure – but it illustrates how erratic these fees can be.
It is slightly tricky then to establish who might be the most valuable Premier League player, yet why not have a go?
Inspired by Bill Simmons’ NBA trade value list for The Ringer, ranking the 64 most valuable basketball stars, Stats Perform has put together an equivalent Premier League top 20.
Of course, there are key differences between how the markets work in the NBA and the Premier League, so a brief explainer is required before complaints come from fans of one or two clubs…
This is not a ranking of the 20 best Premier League players but rather the 20 most valuable – or 20 most difficult to sign.
The following factors have all been considered: how important these players are to their clubs, how replaceable they are, how proven they are, how likely they are to be sold now or in the near future, and how much they would cost if they were to move, influenced by ages and contract situations.
So, let’s dive in…
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s chief creator from right-back, unique in his passing ability and set-piece quality. The Reds will have an extremely tough time when they come to replace the England man; fortunately, that will not be any time soon, with the Anfield favourite a local boy, a Liverpool fan and under contract until 2025.
King of the Hill pic.twitter.com/05FQYutbJ6
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) June 20, 2022
2. Phil Foden – Manchester City
Although perhaps still not quite the main man at Etihad Stadium, Foden is City’s answer to Alexander-Arnold. Having waited so long to bring an elite talent through their academy, the champions will be in no rush to sell him – especially as Pep Guardiola is such a big fan.
3. Erling Haaland – Manchester City
If Alexander-Arnold and Foden are completely unattainable for rival clubs, there remains a possibility Haaland’s stay at City could last only a few seasons, as Real Madrid and Barcelona are likely to again be interested soon enough. But City could command a huge fee for one of the most sought-after strikers in European football.
4. Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
It is perhaps no surprise City feature so prominently in this list, although there is a balance to consider. Their financial might means there is little motive to move on a star name, but they are also well placed to sign a replacement. Even at 31, there is nobody who could feasibly replace De Bruyne.
Back Business! pic.twitter.com/Zujy5M1uWv
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) July 11, 2022
5. Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Replacing Van Dijk is a similarly tough ask. Liverpool are not afraid to cash in if it benefits the team, but it is difficult to imagine how losing their highly influential centre-back – undoubtedly the best in the Premier League – could ever be beneficial.
6. Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Having seen Mane depart, Salah likely would not even have featured on this list had he not agreed a new contract. Now, though, both he and Liverpool are committed to one another for three more years. In the immediate future, Salah remains the Reds’ leading man in attack.
7. Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
It says a lot for the state of the United squad that Fernandes is the only Red Devil to be included. Cristiano Ronaldo is old, on a short-term contract and wants to leave, while Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford endured tough seasons. Fernandes ultimately did, too, but his quality is proven, and he will hope for an improved campaign under Erik ten Hag.
Fresh start. New chapter begins. pic.twitter.com/rwmxqHIwiS
— Bruno Fernandes (@B_Fernandes8) July 4, 2022
8. Son Heung-min – Tottenham
Spurs have a little more security now with Champions League football assured, surely able to keep Son happy – not that the outstanding forward ever appears too downcast. Son is now 30 but shows little sign of slowing after the best goalscoring season of his career.
9. Harry Kane – Tottenham
Son is just ahead of his strike partner on account of Kane pushing for a move last year. That was an unsuccessful bid, though, and City moved on with Haaland. Kane could perhaps be a candidate to replace Ronaldo, but again Tottenham have Champions League football while United do not.
10. Ederson – Manchester City
A move away from the division’s elite attacking stars: Ederson simply could not be better suited for City’s style of play, an outstanding goalkeeper with the passing range to fit into their midfield. A rival club surely would not even try to prise Ederson away.