What do players’ value tells us about national teams

The value of national team squads can teach us about the merits of football education in different countries

A player’s value is an evasive concept. A lot of variables make it soar or plummet and sometimes there’s hardly any science to decision making in the transfer market. As a football agent once told me – “If a club owner has a big ego, you can play on that and make your player ten times more expensive .”  Nonetheless, transfer market value helps you draw conclusions on teams and nations. So, with the help of the excellent “price list” site www.transfermarkt.de I will do just that.

The most valuable national team is Spain (€553.5m)  well, they are the best national team around. You would think that the Netherlands or Germany (2nd and 3rd in FIFA rankings and World Cup) will be next, but no – the second most valuable national team table is Argentina (€439m) followed by France (€390m), England (€382), Italy (€346m) and Brazil (€341m)  all international underachievers recently. However, it does go to show that in all major clubs the most important players are probably French, English, Italian, Brazilian or Argentinean.

Next in line? Portugal (€337m), Germany (€293m) and the Netherlands (€209m), and here it is interesting to examine the value relative to population size.

Portugal and the Netherlands are excellent examples of putting the “Sparta effect” into practice. Portugal’s population is 10.6 million and the Netherlands’s is 16.5 million. Small nations that managed to create top class players with a great football education system that compete with nations 3 to 20 times larger. Serbia is another top ten nation in the market value of it’s national squad. Only 7.3 million people managed to build a national team worth €209m – better than much bigger countries like Turkey, Russia, Poland, United States and Nigeria.

That’s very impressive but their little sister,  Montenegro, is even more impressive. With less than 650,000 people the country has a national team valued at €76m  more than much bigger countries like Greece, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Israel, Ireland, Wales and more. Simply amazing.

Another country worth mentioning is Uruguay. With 3.34 million people the national team that is valued at more than €161m almost on par with a country like Russia (population: 141,850,000). Croatia (4.4m people) is also punching way above its weight in that regard the national team is worth €144.7m.

Which countries have the biggest value growth potential (Which basically asks which countries can produce the next superstars)? I’d like to think that Japan (that with more than 127m people is valued today at €61m like Norway and less than Scotland) can make the big jump to €150m value. With players like Ryo Miyaichi and Shinji Kagawa that are products of an improving football nation it’s very possible.

The US national team is valued at €58.3m should also up its value. Egypt, a huge nation of 83 million football obsessed people is going through a difficult political transition period, and will probably get more players to Europe and will see their €26m value soaring up.

In my next post we’ll discussed values of clubs.

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