Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mapping the Market: How Much Do Players in the Premier League Cost?

If you wanted to buy yourself a Premier League footballer, how much would you have to shell out?  As we get closer to the January transfer window, we thought it would be interesting to take a fresh look at how much players go for these days.

To find out, we collected data from the respected Transfermarkt website on all players currently on Premier League squads and performed a variety of calculations on their transfer values (complete data were available for a total of 502 players; we collected these data in October).

The average Premier League player is currently valued at £5.94 million - a tidy sum to be sure, and of course higher than it's ever been, but not stratospheric. The interesting thing, too, is that the values of players aren't normally distributed - in bell curve fashion, where most (average) players would be expected to be located somewhere in the middle, and then a few on the low and the high ends, respectively. Instead, the transfer values of players show a remarkably skew toward the lower end. Take a look.

Here's the overall distribution (we've grouped players in bands to make the graph more intelligible).

Clearly, the majority of players are valued at significantly less than the average. 25.9% are on the market for £1.3 mio. or less, 51.6% are valued at £3.1 mio. or less, and a whopping 70.5% are valued at £5.7 mio. or less. This makes sense - many of the players in the dataset (in fact, by definition about half, in a squad of 25, assuming some injuries over the season) are not regular starters for their clubs. And of course there are a few very special talents who can command much, much more, thus bringing up the average.

Finally, we wanted to see how much the market differentiates by position. Here we see that the market values different positions differently - something we've long known, but seldom have put a real number on. Players' values increase significantly as we move up the pitch, with forwards valued highest at an average of £7.6 mio., and net minders at less than half that (£3.3 mio.) The jumps in value from keeper to defender is almost £2 million, midfielders are about £1 mio. more than defenders, and strikers about £1.4 more valuable than midfielders.

The market appears to value scoring goals more than it values preventing them.

Of course, these broad averages obscure a lot of differences across individual players and clubs - something we will be writing about in the coming weeks - but they map out the domestic English market as it stands today.