Haaland, Mbappe, Sancho: Who are the most valuable U23 players in the world?

Erling Haaland

While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are approaching the end of their careers, there are a whole host of players at the start of their footballing journeys who are ready to take their place.

Some of the best players on the planet are aged 23 and under, with 15 of them worth at least €100m.

But who are the most valuable young players in the world? The Football Observatory has released a report on the most valuable U23s per position – read on to find out who they are.


10. Ivor Pandur – > €7m

9. Julen Agirrezabala – > €7m

8. Krisoffer Klaesson – > €8m

7. Giorgi Mamardashvili – > €8m

6. Alban Lafont – > €10m

5. Etienne Green – > €15m

4. Luis Maximiano – > €15m

3. Dogan Alemdar – > €15m

2. Illan Meslier – > €40m

1. Gianluigi Donnarumma – > €80m

There are no prizes for guessing who is number one amongst the goalkeepers. Donnarumma is the most valuable U23 goalkeeper and one of the very best on the planet of all ages. After all, he recently won the Yashin Award at the Ballon d’Or ceremony and played a massive role as Italy won Euro 2020.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Leeds’ Illan Meslier is a surprising second, with his status as a Premier League goalkeeper boosting his value. The Whites actually have a second shot-stopper on the list in Kristoffer Klaesson, although the Norwegian has not yet played for the club’s first team.

Other than Lafont, who now turns out for Nantes after spells at Fiorentina and Toulouse, the others on the list are relative unknowns. Keep an eye out for them in the future, though – they are mentioned for a reason.


10. Odilon Koussounou – > €40m

9. Trevoh Chalobah – > €40m

8. Maxence Lacroix – > €40m

7. Piero Hincapie – > €40m

6. Oscar Mingueza – > €50m

5. Ronaldo Araujo – > €50m

4. Alessandro Bastoni – > €60m

3. Matthijs de Ligt – > €70m

2. Josko Gvardiol – > €80m

1. Eric Garcia – > €80m

Barcelona may be struggling both on and off the pitch at the moment, but there is hope for the future given they have three players on this list. The trio includes Eric Garcia, who sits joint-top after moving to the Camp Nou from Manchester City on a free transfer in the summer. That makes him one of the few good pieces of business the Blaugrana have carried out in recent times.

He is joined at the summit by Gvardiol – both players are valued at at least €80m. It is easy to forget de Ligt is just 22, and he comes home in third, although for less than the €75m Juventus spent to sign him in the summer of 2019.



The Bundesliga is a hot-spot for up-and-coming talent, and three of the league’s players make it into this top 10. England is represented by Trevoh Chalobah, who has impressed at Chelsea this season and has seen his value therefore rise to about €40m.


10. Adrien Truffert – > €25m

9. Luke Thomas – > €25m

8. Emerson Royal – > €30m

7. Pierre Kalulu – > €30m

6. Jeremie Frimpong – > €30m

5. Mitchel Bakker – > €40m

4. Nuno Mendes – > €40m

3. Reece James – > €100m

2. Sergino Dest – > €100m

1. Alphonso Davies – > €120m

Here, the top three are streets ahead of the rest. James comes home in third place after a wonderful start to the season at Chelsea, while Dest is another reason for Barcelona fans to remain positive. It is 21-year-old Alphonso Davies who takes top spot, however, having made the Bayern Munich left-back position his own after joining from Vancouver Whitecaps.

Alphonso Davies

Again, the Bundesliga is well-represented, with Davies joined by Leverkusen duo Bakker and Frimpong. Three Premier League players are also included, as Emerson Royal and Thomas sit in eighth and ninth place respectively.

AC Milan are challenging for the Serie A title this season and, given his contribution so far, Kalulu has earned his spot on the list. In tenth place is Ligue 1’s second representative, Adrien Truffert, who has scored twice from left-back this term.

Defensive midfielders

10. Pape Matar Sarr – > €30m

9. Conor Gallagher – > €30m

8. Aurelien Tchouameni – > €40m

7. Tyler Adams – > €40m

6. Sandro Tonali – > €50m

5. Edouardo Camavinga – > €60m

4. Declan Rice – > €70m

3. Eljif Elmas – > €70m

2. Curtis Jones – €70m

1. Jude Bellingham – > €120m

This one is far from a close contest – Bellingham has a €50m buffer over his next competitor, compatriot Jones. The teenage former Birmingham City midfielder has evolved into a regular starter for Borussia Dortmund under Marco Rose, another vindication of the Schwarzgelben’s buy-young-sell-high transfer policy.

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No less than four Englishmen feature, Rice and Gallagher completing the quartet. In fact, three of the top four are eligible for the Three Lions, with North Macedonia international Elmas the exception.

France has two representatives on the list in Camavinga and Tchouameni, while Adams is the second USA international to feature across all the categories. Matar Sarr is the fourth Premier League player in 10th, making the English top-flight the best-represented division.

Attacking midfielders

10. Christoph Baumgartner – > €40m

9. Sofiane Diop – > €40m

8. Brahim Diaz – > €40m

7. Emile Smith Rowe – > €90m

6. Jamal Musiala – > €90m

5. Mason Mount – > €90m

4. Bukayo Saka – > €100m

3. Kai Havertz – > €100m

2. Pedri – > €140m

1. Florian Wirz – > €140m

Just like in the central midfield category, a Bundesliga talent leads the way in attacking midfield. 18-year-old Wirtz has eight goals and 11 assists in just 18 games in all competitions and has a huge future ahead of him. He is joined on €140m by Pedri, whose 2021 has been busy to say the least – he burst onto the scene with Barcelona, played a huge role in Spain’s run to the Euro 2020 final, and picked up a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Florian Wirtz

Baumgartner and Musiala make up the rest of the Bundesliga trio, while four players from the Premier League are included. They are split down the middle between Chelsea and Arsenal, with Havertz the highest in third place, valued at €100m.

France and Spain each have one player – Diop is currently on the books of AS Monaco, while Diaz is on loan from Real Madrid at AC Milan.


10. Yeremi Pino – > €80m

9. Moussa Diaby – > €80m

8. Kylian Mbappe – > €80m

7. Joao Felix – > €100m

6. Ferran Torres – > €120m

5. Jadon Sancho – > €130m

4. Mason Greenwood – > €140m

3. Phil Foden – > €150m

2. Vinicius Junior – > €150m

1. Erling Haaland – > €150m

There is a three-way tie at the top between Haaland, Vinicius and Foden. The former of the three has been almost unstoppable for Borussia Dortmund, while the latter continues to light up the Premier League with Manchester City. Meanwhile, Vinicius is enjoying the best season of his career at Real Madrid, having scored 12 goals and provided eight assists in 22 games.

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Three England players make the list in Foden, Sancho and Greenwood, with Torres the fourth and final Premier League player to be included. Diaby is the second of two Bundesliga players, and Yeremi Pino is the other La Liga performer.

Mbappe is the only representative from Ligue 1. The France international’s eighth place may seem low, but Football Observatory consider contract lengths when working out the values, and the PSG man’s deal is set to run out next summer.

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