He had been earmarked as a sought-after transfer target for this summer, and Soccerex said his weighted valuation was €49.3m (£35.5m), placing him in the top spot.
Sterling has already become one of the most discussed players early on in the transfer window, with Manchester City quickly having had two offers rejected. The player has been vocal about being unhappy with his position and if City were to meet Liverpool’s £50m valuation, it would surpass the all-time record for an English footballer.
The report may prompt further questions over English players coming at a premium and whether they’re comparatively overvalued – Sterling had sixteen Premier League goals and 12 assists for the past two seasons, while Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez had 16 and eight for his first year in England. Sanchez was signed for £35m in July 2014. The study notes Sterling’s potential, which has increased his value, while the home-grown rules mean there’s a premium for locally-trained players.
Read more on football:
- Crystal Palace FC embraces cloud technology to push strategies to players
- Manchester United knocks Bayern Munich off top spot of football’s most valuable brands
- From Mike Ashley to Roman Abramovich: The Premier League’s richest owners
The Football Value Index arrived at its decision with Sterling in the top spot after taking account of the player’s age, position, current club, contract length, as well as market value perception, international caps, injuries, goals and other considerations.
Second place went to Brazilian defender Marquinhos. The 21-year-old centre-back joined French champions PSG in 2013 and was soon identified as a prospect to watch – The Observer called him one of the ten most promising young players in Europe in January 2014.
Some 17 of the 20 players most highly-valued were born and bred in Europe, with England topping the charts with the most players. While the national team failed to ignite the world stage – though the women’s team beat Germany in the World Cup to take bronze – there were four English players among the most valuable players. Manchester United’s Luke Shaw was ninth at €25.39m (£17.77m), Everton’s John Stones in 16th (€16.85m/£11.795m) Arsenal’s Calum Chambers in 19th place (€15.06m/£10.54m).
The report further indicated the pull of the Premier League – as a dominant financial force, able to draw talent from across the leagues. Memphis Depay came third in the report and was recently snapped up by Manchester United, which bought the Dutch winger from PSG for a reported €35.7m (£25m). The study’s valuation of €33.6m is not far off.
Esteve Calzada, CEO of Prime Time Sport, said: “This report has produced a number of very interesting conclusions with regards to home-grown player regulations and Europe’s dominance in producing the world’s most valuable young talents.”
The overall top 20 players have a weighted combined value of €485.43m (£339.8m) with an average value of over €24m per player.
The top ten most valuable young players:
(1) Sterling – Liverpool
(2) Marquinhos – PSG
(3) Depay – Manchester United
(4) Berardi – Sassuolo (co-owned Juventus)
(5) Giménez – Atlético Madrid
(6) Çalhanou011flu – Bayer Leverkusen
(7) Kovacic – Inter Milan
(8) Gayà – Valencia
(9) Shaw – Manchester United
(10) Laporte – Athletic Bilbao