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Revealed! The 30 most valuable footballers in the world, according to CIES

Roberto Firmino

The CIES Football Observatory have formulated an algorithm and crunched the numbers to work out the most valuable stars on the planet. Paul Sarahs guides you through...

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The CIES Football Observatory's top 10 positions are occupied by six nationalities – two each from England, Belgium, France and Argentina, and one from Brazil and Egypt. 

Their algorithm has been formulated using the financial details of over 5,000 transfers between July 2011 and June 2018, and takes into consideration no fewer than 31 player variables alone, combined with 19 more used to predict clubs potentially interested in their signature. Yes, FFT's head hurts already. 

Only two goalkeepers appear in the top 30 positions (head-scratchingly so, we have to say), but with some of Europe’s biggest – and richest – clubs in the market for a new No.1 this summer, these predicted figures may well be blown out of the water...

30. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal, €95.6m)

30. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon international striker joined Arsenal in January for a reported £60m, but his value has already risen to more than £83m thanks to 10 goals and four assists in 13 Premier League matches with the Gunners.  

The former Borussia Dortmund man became the fastest Arsenal player to reach 10 goals in the top flight in the process, and should be one of the north London club's most important players under new boss Unai Emery next season. Aubameyang will be the focal point of a rebuilt Arsenal, and his new manager will be relieved to have a natural goalscorer like him in his squad from the off.  

29. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United, €97.5m)

29. Marcus Rashford

Rashford is still just 20 but played a part in 35 of Manchester United’s 38 Premier League matches in 2017/18, and has been included in England’s World Cup squad this summer. His Premier League goalscoring record has been hurt by 44% of his appearances coming from the bench, though, plus a regular wide role: Rashford managed a career-high seven league goals last term. 

Still, the talented youngster still has time on his side, and bags of ability. A strong showing at the World Cup may persuade Jose Mourinho that he's worth more opportunities in 2018/19 – or at very least encourage a few more league rivals to try their luck for his signature this summer. 

28. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City, €98.7m)

28. Bernardo Silva

Portugal international Silva joined Manchester City from Monaco last summer for a reported £43m – and despite a secondary role for the title winners in 2017/18, his value has doubled in 12 months according to the CIES Football Observatory. Bernardo's six goals and four assists in 35 appearances demonstrated his quality for City, especially considering that the vast majority of his appearances – 20 of 35 in the top flight – came from the bench. 

Bernardo, still only 23, was brought in by Pep Guardiola as part of an initiative to bring the average age of the Manchester City squad down. He has been a success since his arrival, having helped the club to a Premier League record points haul in his first season.

27. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, €99.8m)

27. Sergio Aguero

Argentine striker Aguero joined Manchester City in 2011 for a then-club record fee of £38m, subsequently earning his place in the annals of Premier League history by scoring the dramatic title-winning goal with the last kick of the season. He has a better minutes-per-goal ratio in Premier League history than any other player, and enjoyed another excellent season in 2017/18 as he lifted the title for the third time in seven years.  

Having just turned 30, Aguero is in his prime and should City wish to cash in on their star striker, CIES Football Observatory value him at just short of €100m. The Argentina international has spoken repeatedly of his happiness in Manchester but also dreams of a return one day to his first club, Independiente. 

26. Saul Niguez (Atletico Madrid, €100.5m)

26. Saul Niguez

Atletico added the 2017/18 Europa League title to their ever-growing list of silverware won under Diego Simeone, and young midfielder Niguez was at the heart of it. The 23-year-old only scored twice in 36 league games but saved his goals for the Europa League, netting three times in eight games as Los Colchoneros lifted the continental trophy under El Cholo.

Atletico have competed with Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent seasons despite having a much smaller budget to work with, partly down to the success of an academy system which has harvested the likes of Thomas Partey, Lucas Hernandez and the World Cup-bound Niguez.

25. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona, €100.5m)

25. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

The first of just two goalkeepers in this top 30, Germany international Ter Stegen will be off to the World Cup this summer but may have to be happy with a place on the bench despite a fantastic season at Barcelona.  

Manuel Neuer is national team coach Joachim Low’s keeper of choice, but Ter Stegen will be a close second. At just 26, the former Borussia Monchengladbach No.1 has the best part of a decade left to establish himself as Germany's first choice. 

24. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, €103.4m)

24. Cristiano Ronaldo

For a short time towards the beginning of last season, Ronaldo looked human. At 32 years of age, and a poor run of only four goals from his first 14 La Liga appearances of the season, it appeared that time may well have begun to catch up with the Real Madrid and Portugal star.

It was merely a dip, of course – Ronaldo came back with a vengeance, laying down a run of form in the New Year that eclipsed anything he'd previously managed in his career. He showed his importance to Real Madrid with another 15 goals in the Champions League – the third time in his career that he has managed that total or more in a European campaign.  

Having turned 33 in February, Ronaldo’s career is coming into its final stages – but he’s still every bit as decisive as he has ever been. 

23. Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli, €104.2m)

23. Lorenzo Insigne

Napoli came so close to dethroning Juventus last season, taking the race for the Scudetto right down to the wire. They ultimately failed, however, as the Old Lady took the league title and Coppa Italia to make it a sensational four doubles in a row. Left-winger Insigne scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists across Serie A and the Champions League, but Napoli ultimately fell short in both competitions. 

With boss Maurizio Sarri having been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, and Napoli's failure to usurp Juve in mind, Insigne may feel his future lies away from the Stadio San Paolo. According to CIES, it will take a bid north of €100m to prise him away from Naples. 

22. Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus, €104.5m)

22. Gonzalo Higuain

Higuain has come under criticism in recent seasons despite a healthy goalscoring record – mainly from fans of former club Napoli, who tease him about his weight. It hasn’t adversely affected his ability to find the back of the net, though: the former River Plate and Napoli goal-getter has scored 55 goals in 105 matches since joining Juventus in summer 2016, winning two doubles with the Old Lady. 

He will form part of a formidable Argentine frontline in Russia this summer alongside Aguero, Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala. Higuain’s form is underlined by the fact that Mauro Icardi failed to make Jorge Sampaoli’s squad despite scoring 29 league goals in 34 matches for Inter. 

21. Ederson (Manchester City, €104.6m)

21. Ederson

Ederson enjoyed a sensational debut season for Guardiola’s Manchester City side, slotting in seamlessly after his move from Benfica last summers. Much was noted about City’s attacking prowess, but they finished the season with the best defensive record in the Premier League too – and Ederson played in all but two matches. 

He will be in Russia this summer as part of Brazil’s World Cup squad but faces a battle for the No.1 shirt with Roma’s Alisson, who has been in sensational form and looks the huge favourite to be Tite’s goalkeeper.