Ranked! The most valuable players under 23 in the world

Ranked! The most valuable players under 23 in the world
(Image credit: Future)

Maybe it's the influence of Football Manager but wonderkids are more expensive than ever before. If you want to pay for a star of the future, you're not just paying for their current ability but what they might become – but that's not to say there aren't world stars on this list.

Every single one of Transfermarkt's (opens in new tab) top 25 under-23s is a full international, while plenty of them have title-winning experience and Champions League winners' medals in some cases. There's a bit of a gap between the 30+ era of superstars – the Messis, Ronaldos, Lewandowskis and Modrics of the world – and the next generation, with Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland both a good five years away from their respective potential peaks. 

Of course, these values are only calculated based on worth: the actual cost of signing any of these stars could be near double. If you want any of these players, you're going to have to part with serious dollar. 

The most valuable players under 23 in the world

25. Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen of SSC Napoli looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group A match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on September 7, 2022 in Naples, Italy.

Victor Osimhen before the Champions League win over Liverpool (Image credit: Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Club: Napoli
Age: 23
Value: £58.5m

While the rest of us were making banana bread and competing in naff Zoom quizzes, Victor Osimhen spent the first lockdown upping sticks to Southern Italy, swapping Lille for Napoli for around £67 million in September 2020. Despite the global pandemic and two years fewer on his contract, he's barely decreased in value. 

The Nigerian hitman's current deal winds up in 2025 but if the rumour mill is to be believed, Napoli won't be parting with their talisman for any less than what they paid for him. He could become the most expensive African player ever if someone offers more than the £72m that Arsenal paid for Nicolas Pepe.

24. Wesley Fofana

Chelsea's Wesley Fofana breaks during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on October 01, 2022 in London, England.

Wesley Fofana in action against Crystal Palace (Image credit: Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Club: Chelsea
Age: 21
Value: £58.5m

Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana was valued at around £36m by Transfermarkt when Chelsea decided to double that to bring him to the Bridge. At just 21, they could have signed one of the best defenders of the 2020s for that. 

Fofana has seen a sharp jump in his market value according to the website, perhaps aided by the fact that he signed a seven-year contract with the Blues. It's safe to say he's been priced out of the transfer market for a good few years. 

23. Kai Havertz

Kai Havertz of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on October 08, 2022 in London, England

Kai Havertz celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers (Image credit: Harriet Lander - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Club: Chelsea
Age: 23
Value: £63m

Another £72m Chelsea signing, Kai Havertz has blown hot and cold either side of his defining Champions League final strike last year. The German is marmite to fans but at 23, he still has some developing ahead of him.

With three years left on his current contract, he's thought to be worth in the £63m range – though has never been linked with a Premier League exit since his marquee move to west London. 

22. Matthijs De Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt of Bayern Munich runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern München and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Allianz Arena on September 30, 2022 in Munich, Germany.

Matthijs de Ligt in action against Bayer Leverkusen (Image credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 23
Value: £63m

It's strange to believe that a man who started a European final five years ago is still young enough to be considered a wonderkid but sure enough, Matthijs De Ligt is basically that kid in the playground at secondary school who never got ID'd for buying booze. 

The Dutch colossus is the youngest captain in Ajax's history, the only defender to have won the Golden Boy award and already made two moves worth over £60m. Now at Bayern after three years at Juventus, his contract expires in 2027. 

21. Rafael Leao

Rafael Leao of AC Milan controls the ball during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and AC Milan at Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, Italy on 1 October 2022.

Rafael Leao ahead of the Serie A game against Empoli (Image credit: Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Club: AC Milan
Age: 23
Value: £63m

Rafael Leao is arguably the hottest property in the entirety of Serie A right now. It's for the good of the league, let alone employers AC Milan, that his starting price alone would smash the Italian record. 

Leao has skyrocketed from around £13m to £63m in just three years at the San Siro. With rumours that the Portuguese is valued by Milan at £100m, his worth may yet increase – a contract expiring in 2024 means that surely, he'll either make a Hollywood transfer next summer or commit to the Rossoneri on improved terms. 

20. Rodrygo

Rodrygo Silva de Goes of Real Madrid celebrates 0-1 during the La Liga Santander match between Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid at the Estadio Civitas Metropolitano on September 18, 2022 in Madrid Spain

Rodrygo scores against Atletico Madrid (Image credit: David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Club: Real Madrid
Age: 21
Value: £63m

Real Madrid's strategy of signing up-and-coming Brazilian superstars in the hope of landing the next Neymar ahead of Barcelona this time is already a quantifiable success – despite Reinier's Dortmund loan being a massive disappointment. 

Rodrygo seemingly has the Real gene of coming in clutch with vital Champions League knockout goals and since joining the kings of Europe for £40m three years ago, his worth has steadily increased. He's not the only one of Los Blancos' super starlets, either. 

19. Alphonso Davies

Bayern Munich's Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies, Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Gavi and Barcelona's Brazilian forward Raphinha vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona in Munich, southern Germany on September 13, 2022.

Alphonso Davies tussels with Gavi and Raphinha in the Champions League (Image credit: KERSTIN JOENSSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 21
Value: £63m

In the heady days of Alphonso Davies singlehandedly ripping Barcelona's righthand side to shreds – perhaps booking Ruben Semedo's flight to the Midlands in the process – the left-back was valued at £72m. He's not dropped off massively since then, despite worries over myocarditis last season after contracting COVID. 

Fonzi is back, playing regularly for Bayern and will be the centrepiece of Canadian interest in the 2022 World Cup. He's effortlessly marketable, sure, but another three years on his deal at the Allianz means it would take a monster bid for the Bavarians to even consider letting him go right now. 

18. Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring the team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in London

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring Arsenal's second against Liverpool (Image credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Arsenal
Age: 21
Value: £63m

Bukayo Saka is rumoured to only be on around £30,000 a week at Arsenal. Despite having two years left on his current contract, he's still worth over £60m by Transfermarkt

At 21 years old, that value is only set to soar. The England Player of the Year is already a key player for club and country – and reportedly set to tie down terms on a new £200,000-a-week deal for another five seasons.

17. Joao Felix

Joao Felix of Portugal during the UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 2 match between Portugal and Spain at Estadio Municipal de Braga on September 27, 2022 in Braga, Portugal.

Joao Felix in action for Portugal in the Nations League (Image credit: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Club: Atletico Madrid
Age: 22
Value: £63m

Joao Felix royally cheesed off Cristiano Ronaldo when he became the most expensive Portuguese player ever (we assume), when he made a nine-figure move to Atletico Madrid three years ago. That number has almost halved since.

The 22-year-old has endured some difficult times under Diego Simeone but is still one of the most exciting footballers – of today or tomorrow – with four years left to run in the Spanish capital. It seems unlikely that Atleti will recoup their money – but they would still rake in a hefty fee should they choose to sell Felix on. 

16. Darwin Nunez

Darwin Nunez of Liverpool celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Emirates Stadium on October 09, 2022 in London, England.

Darwin Nunez celebrates after scoring against Arsenal (Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Club: Liverpool
Age: 23
Value: £63m

He's not exactly hit the ground running at Anfield but Darwin Nunez is far from a flop just yet. The Liverpool striker doesn't turn 24 until next summer either, so the chances are, he'll evolve more as a player and hone his game. 

According to Transfermarkt, Liverpool paid £18m over the odds on the Uruguayan, laying £67.5m to sign him when he was worth just under £50m. Signing a massive Premier League contract for six years and becoming the focal point of the Reds has still boosted Nunez, though, up to £63m, his highest market value. 

15. Florian Wirtz

Jeremie Frimpong and Florian Wirtz of Bayer 04 Leverkusen on the way to the team presentation at BayArena on July 25, 2022 in Leverkusen, Germany.

Jeremie Frimpong (left) and Florian Wirtz (right) of Bayer Leverkusen on the way to the team presentation at BayArena in Leverkusen (Image credit: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Age: 19
Value: £63m

The world was at 18-year-old Florian Wirtz's feet until a cruciate ligament rupture curtailed his 2021/22 season in March last year. Despite this injury, his value hasn't decreased.

The next big thing of German football has maintained his all-time-high value of £63m throughout his lay-off, with Bayer Leverkusen unfazed about his worth dropping. The teenager signed a new deal in the summer to protect that value, so should he return to the form he was displaying before his hiatus, he could well fetch well over £60m if he leaves the BayArena. 

14. Gavi

Gavi (L) vies with Mallorca's Spanish midfielder Antonio Sanchez during the Spanish League football match between RCD Mallorca and FC Barcelona at the Visit Mallorca stadium in Palma de Mallorca on October 1, 2022.

Gavi (L) vies with Mallorca midfielder Antonio Sanchez in La Liga (Image credit: JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Barcelona
Age: 18
Value: £63m

The youngest player on this list, La Masia teen Gavi penned an extension to his Barcelona deal in September, turning his back on the vultures of Europe hovering for his signature. 

Now a full international and a regular under Xavi, Gavi may have only been six when Spain lifted the World Cup but he'd be one of the most difficult players to prise away in the world. Barcelona letting academy stars leave on megadeals just don't happen.

13. Mason Mount

Mason Mount of Chelsea reacts during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Chelsea FC and FC Salzburg at Stamford Bridge on September 14, 2022 in London, England.

Mason Mount during the Champions League match against Red Bull Salzburg (Image credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Club: Chelsea
Age: 23
Value: £67.5m

One of the leaders in Chelsea's side, one of the first names in every England squad and one of the most accomplished midfielders in the biggest league on Earth, yes, Mason Mount is still just 23. 

Mount's value hasn't changed in almost a year and a half, though – and he hasn't signed a new contract since 2019. Next summer, he'll find himself with just 12 months left on his deal, so it's likely his value may rise again sharply soon. 

12. Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho and Christian Eriksen of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Europa League group E match between Sheriff Tiraspol and Manchester United at Stadionul Zimbru on September 15, 2022 in Chisinau, Moldova.

Jadon Sancho (left) and Christian Eriksen (right) of Manchester United in action during the Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol (Image credit: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Club: Manchester United
Age: 22
Value: £67.5m

At his peak, Jadon Sancho was thought to be worth an eye-watering £117m by Transfermarkt – but before you start blaming the malaise of Manchester United on such a steep drop, that was a pre-COVID valuation.

Still just 22, Sancho has seen his value abseil by £40m but United did sign him for a great price. The £76.5m fee that it took to take him to Old Trafford was considerably lower than the £90m that Transfermarkt estimated his value at when he moved.

11. Antony

Antony in action against Tunisia for Brazil

Antony in action against Tunisia for Brazil (Image credit: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Club: Manchester United
Age: 22
Value: £67.5m

As recently as June, Antony was valued at around £30m. Now, the Brazilian starlet is worth more than double. 

According to Transfermarkt, United cancelled out their Sancho nous by overpaying over £50m more for their samba winger than he was actually worth. Still, if he continues the electric form he's started at Old Trafford, who cares? That £67.5m won't stay that low…

10. Declan Rice

Declan Rice of England during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on September 26, 2022 in London, United Kingdom.

Declan Rice during the Nations League between England and Germany (Image credit: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Club: West Ham United
Age: 23
Value: £72m

The only Europa Conference League player on the list – until, at least, some teams drop down from the Europa League. 

Declan Rice isn't 24 until January and is at a current all-time high of £72m. Rumours that West Ham United wouldn't have let him leave for less than an English record – £100m, broken by Jack Grealish last year – suggests that it might take at least that £72m to sign him. His contract expires in 2024, though the Irons have an optional one-year extension. 

9. Aurelian Tchouameni

Aurelien Tchouameni #8 of France looks on during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between France and Austria at Stade de France on September 22, 2022 in Paris, France.

Aurelien Tchouameni looks on during the Nations League match between France and Austria (Image credit: Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)

Club: Real Madrid
Age: 22
Value: £72m

According to Transfermarkt, Monaco slightly overpaid for Aurelien Tchouameni, dropping £16m for the Bordeaux midfielder in January 2020 when he was only worth around £12m. Still, it was probably the right decision. 

Real Madrid paid £72m when he was valued at around £54m over the summer. The 22-year-old has since been bumped up to his actual fee by Transfermarkt and since he's on a contract that'll see him through to 2028, it's likely that value will remain constant for the next few years. 

8. Jamal Musiala

Jamal Musiala looks on during the Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund game

Jamal Musiala during the Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (Image credit: Edith Geuppert - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 19
Value: £72m

Rumoured to be on Liverpool's wishlist, Stuttgart-born, Croydon-raised Jamal Musiala has never been given a Transfermarkt valuation lower than his last. 

The Bayern Munich star would be Bayern's record sale by £30m if they were to sell him for his current £72m value. But would any Premier League side coming in him have to pay English tax? 

7. Dusan Vlahovic

Dusan Vlahovic of Juventus celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Serie A match between Juventus and Bologna FC at Allianz Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Turin, Italy.

Dusan Vlahovic celebrates scoring against Bologna (Image credit: Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Club: Juventus
Age: 22
Value: £76.5m

Juventus might not be the force right now that they once were but Dusan Vlahovic is very clearly their prized asset. The Serbian moved for £73m from Fiorentina in January this year and has very quickly made up his value. 

Vlahovic was valued at £63m by Transfermarkt when he moved across Italy – now he's worth a few million more than the fee the Old Lady paid for him. He only signed a four-year deal, though – it's quite possible that his value could rise yet, either when another side purchases him once more or he increases his salary to keep him in Turin.

6. Phil Foden

Manchester City's German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (L), Manchester City's English midfielder Phil Foden (C) and Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva are pictured after the end of the UEFA Champions League 1st round day 4 group G football match FC Copenhagen vs Manchester City in Copenhagen, Denmark, on October 11, 2022.

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan (left), Phil Foden (centre) and Bernardo Silva (right) in action against Copenhagen (Image credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Manchester City
Age: 22
Value: £81m

When Phil Foden last signed a contract at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola had only won one title at the Etihad. There were questions about his usage of youth in his side and whether the jewel of the City academy would have to leave to find opportunities. 

It's safe to say that Foden has more than proved doubters wrong – but though no one expects the boyhood City fan to ever wave goodbye to the club, he could just be a year away from leaving on a free transfer while tying up a fifth Premier League title in May 2023. A value of £81m proves just how good he's been over the last few years. 

5. Jude Bellingham

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, pictured during the UEFA Champions League match between Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund on 5 October, 2022 at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, Seville, Spain

Jude Bellingham in action in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund (Image credit: David Ramos/Getty Images)

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age: 19
Value: £81m

The most valuable English footballer around? He's certainly one of the most exciting and since packing his bags for the Bundesliga, Jude Bellingham has rocketed in value. 

Ironically though, Borussia Dortmund might not fetch as much for his sale as a Premier League side would for Saka or Rice. BVB's model relies on Bellingham's sale, meaning that even flogging the teenage midfield wizard for his current £81m valuation would be stellar work considering the £22.5m they bought him for. With three years left in Germany and no obvious desire to go though, we could well see Bellingham's value increase further still. 

4. Pedri

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Pedri celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Spanish League football match between Barcelona FC and RC Celta de Vigo at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 9, 2022.

Pedri celebrates scoring the opening goal against Celta Vigo (Image credit: JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Club: Pedri
Age: 19
Value: £81m

At one stage, there was a worry that Pedri could well leave Barcelona for nothing. Now, he's their most valuable player since Lionel Messi left. 

Still just 19, Pedri wasn't a La Masia graduate – he was signed from Las Palmas – but has been treated as if he blossomed in the Catalan sun, inheriting the sacred No.8 shirt from Andres Iniesta's back and penning terms on a bumper new deal to take him through to 2026 as a Barça player. He's widely considered the future of both club and country: it would probably have to take a record fee to snatch him from Camp Nou, now. 

3. Vinicius Jr

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid CF reacts during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Real Madrid and RB Leipzig at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 14, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.

Vinicius Junior in action against RB Leipzig (Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Club: Real Madrid
Age: 22
Value: £108m

Vinicius Jr has been a Real Madrid player for four years and according to Transfermarkt, his value has fluctuated over that time, without ever dropping below the £31.5m market value that was set when he joined Los Blancos. 

The Brazilian is now at a record-high of £108m, thanks surely in part to a Champions League final-winning strike and 10 goal contributions in his first 13 matches this season. It looks like he's found momentum in European football and seems on course to stay around this valuation for a while yet. A new contract seems likely, too. 

2. Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland of Manchester City looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League group G match between Manchester City and FC Copenhagen at Etihad Stadium on October 05, 2022 in Manchester, England.

Erling Haaland of Manchester City looks on prior to the Champions League match against Copenhagen (Image credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Club: Manchester City
Age: 22
Value: £135m

Erling Haaland is valued at £135m – and yet Manchester City unlocked his release clause for just £54m. It's a habit as curious as his goalscoring exploits: back in 2020 when moved to Dortmund for £18m, he was valued at around £40m.

Something tells us that whoever tries to buy him next would have to pay significantly more money than his current market value, too. With City legend Alfie Haaland claiming his son could leave the Etihad three years into his five-year deal and talk of a mammoth release clause, maybe we will see Neymar's transfer record broken by the man smashing all other records on the pitch. 

1. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe of PSG celebrates his goal on a penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SL Benfica at Parc des Princes stadium on October 11, 2022 in Paris, France.

Kylian Mbappe celebrates his goal against Benfica (Image credit: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 23
Value: £144m

If the rumours are true, Kylian Mbappe wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain. The French giants paid £162m for the privilege of bringing him to the Parc Des Princes five years ago (well, four, given the year-long loan FFP loophole). It may take a similar fee to get him out of PSG once more. 

The youngest-ever World Cup final goalscorer is still just 23 but he peaked in value pre-lockdown when he tipped £180m. Now, he's "only" worth £144m – with another three years left to run on the contract extension he signed over the summer. Goodness knows how much a suitor could pay for King Kylian, should he cut this new deal short after all. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.