The race for European football is going to be incredibly close this season.
At the time of writing, Southampton are top of the Premier League table and the likes of Everton, Leicester and even Aston Villa have been touted as teams capable of challenging the established elite.
Now, we’re sure normal service will be resumed soon enough.
But in the meantime, it’s fascinating to speculate about who will be breaking into the Champions League and Europa League next term.
In the 2020/21 campaign, there are plenty of high-profile players missing out on hearing those spine-tingling UEFA anthems.
That’s partly because clubs like Everton and Wolves have been incredibly astute in the transfer market.
In fact, Marca have compiled a list of the most valuable players not taking part in the Champions League or Europa League this season and both clubs see their star men feature several times.
16. James Rodriguez – €35m
The Colombian has not disappointed since hitting the Premier League, with three goals in his opening six games.
15. Nelson Semedo – €35m
The former Barcelona full-back struggled to hit the ground running in Catalonia, but he’s had no such problems in the sunny climes of Wolverhampton, delivering a starring role against Crystal Palace.
14. Andrea Belotti €35m
The Torino forward has an impressive record of 85 goals in 180 games since joining the club in 2015. There was a time when he was linked with every top club going, but he seems settled for now.
13. Maxi Gómez – €35m
The Uruguayan has already scored six times for club and country this season, but the Bats’ ninth-placed finish last season means there is no European action on the cards.
12. Wissam Ben Yedder – €40m
Only Kylian Mbappe has enjoyed a better start to the new Ligue 1 season and Monaco are desperately reliant on the 30-year-old.
11. Raúl Jiménez – €40m
10. Adama Traore – €40m
The same can be said of his Wolves teammate, Adama Traore. Unrecognisable from the player who flattered to deceive at Middlesbrough, there aren’t many footballers who are forced to come out and deny that they’ve been hitting the weights. That tells you everything you need to know about Traore’s sheer power and pace.
9. Moussa Dembele – €40m
The Lyon striker hasn’t found the back of the net in Ligue 1 yet this season, but he’s averaged almost a goal every two games overall since moving from Celtic.
8. Dominic Calvert-Lewin – €40m
Demand for the striker will have rocketed since the start of the season, that’s for sure. Carlo Ancelotti’s work with the England international on the training ground has seen him compared him to Filippo Inzaghi and he’s joint top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.
7. Memphis Depay – €45m
While the midfielder struggled at Manchester United and failed to live up to the pressure of the number 7 shirt, he belongs in Europe, as his performances since joining Lyon have shown.
6. Jack Grealish – €45m
Grealish is invaluable to his boyhood club, Aston Villa. Last season, the playmaker helped to keep Dean Smith’s men in the top flight but this time around, he is going one better so far and turning them into a force to be reckoned with.
5. Wilfried Zaha – €50m
Without Zaha, Crystal Palace rarely win – it’s as simple as that. The Ivorian’s price tag has raised eyebrows in the past, but he’s worth every penny of that valuation to the Eagles.
4. Ruben Neves – €50m
Neves has been key to Wolves’ ascendancy under Nuno and they were perhaps unfortunate to miss out on European football last season – but four wins in seven games suggests they’ll be right in the mix again.
3. Houssem Aouar – €50m
Just 22 years old, Aouar made his France debut last month and it seems just a matter of time before Lyon are facing a battle to hold onto the midfielder. Arsenal reportedly tried to sign him in the summer but were put off by the fee, with the Ligue 1 side unwilling to compromise, per Football.London.
2. Declan Rice – €55m
Listen, we don’t make the rules here. Rice is pivotal to West Ham’s midfield, but it would be a big punt for a Champions League or even a Europa League side to shell out such a fortune for the England international.
1. Richarlison – €60m
Astonishingly, the Toffees have never won a league game without Richarlison since he arrived from Watford (correct as of the morning of November 7). That just sums up the Brazilian’s worth and if Ancelotti’s men keep up their promising start, there’s every chance he will be playing in Europe next season.
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