For several years I have seen little or no discussion on this blog about the German Transfermarkt, a website that has developed a valuation system for most professional soccer leagues, teams, and players around the world. The MLS is thoroughly analyzed on the site—first by individual player, then by team totals. For example, the value of individual rated Rev players ranges from 50K Euros (Firmino, Rivera) to 3M Euros (Gustavo Bou). Both the median (midpoint value) and mode (most frequent value) for Revs are 600K Euros. Besides Bou, the Revs have only 5 players valued at more than a million Euros: Teal Bunbury (1.0M), Adam Buksa (1.0M), Christian Penilla (1.3M), Fagundez (1.5M), Gil (2.0M).
In total, the Revolution player values currently add up to 19.48M Euros (16th of 25 teams in the MLS). This is a total many MLS teams hover around (the league median is $20.70M). The main MLS team outliers are Atlanta, which is valued at 65.48M, and Los Angeles FC at 59.18M.
As a telling contrast: Manchester City, the highest-value team in the English Premier League (EPL), has a team worth of 1.3 billion (spelled with a B)—just over 65 times as many Euros as the Revolution. Their player median and mode are both 50,000,000 Euros (vs. the Revs’ 600,000).
Individual player values (and accordingly team values) go up or down every 2 to 3 months, as Transfermarkt evaluators continuously assess each player’s worth. The main factors that are considered in evaluations are:
· Overall playing ability (with goal production especially highly valued) and
· Youth. A nineteen-year-old with his career before him is credited with a lot more value than a similarly-skilled player who is 10 years older. Paris St. Germain (PSG)’s 21-year-old superstar, Kylian Mbappe, is currently the top valued man at 200M Euros.
Doing a statistical analysis of the relation between performance and team worth would be very complicated, and way beyond this blogger’s competence. But, generally speaking, a team’s success is likely to bear some relation to its Transfermarkt value. The more valuable a team’s players are, the more they are likely to win.
There are notable exceptions to this rule, of course, logically arising from the quality of coaching, team chemistry, injuries, and other x-factors. I think especially of Ajax of Amsterdam, who competed in last year’s Champions league very successfully against teams with a much higher Transfermarkt value. Or how about EPL seventh-place Sheffield United, a team worth peanuts at 116,000M Euros (about an eleventh of Manchester City) but that still competes in the top half of the league?
The fact is, though, if we look at the seven MLS teams with the highest current team worth (Atlanta, Los Angeles FC, Toronto FC, NY City FC, Columbus Crew, LA Galaxy, and Seattle Sounders, in that order), all but the Crew finished the 2019 season in the top five in their divisions.
Anyway, what lessons should the Revs take from these Moneyball-like analytics? On the surface, it seems simple: for the Revs to improve they should raise the team’s Transfermarkt value to a level that puts them in the ballpark with the top 10 MLS teams, which range from 23M-60M Euros.
Failing that, a good way to play the system (at least for the short run) may be to concentrate on recruiting a couple of over-the-hill superstars. They tend to be very effective in the MLS, and because their age counts against them in the Transfermarkt they can be a bargain: they enhance team performance more than might be predicted from their actual cost.
In any case, the Transfermarkt is a useful and addictive tool for evaluating players, teams, and many aspects of team decision-making.