How much would classic footballers be worth today?

The transfer market went, well, a bit mad this summer. Gone are the days when ten million quid could land you a semi-decent player – these days, it wouldn’t even cover the agent fees.

Spending in the top flight grew by 22% this summer, with clubs spending an unbelievable £1.4bn on new recruits. The big story was in Paris, however, with PSG pulling off the audacious capture of Neymar Jr for the princely sum of £250 million.

That got us thinking, how much would the big names of yesteryear be worth on the market today?

How we worked it out

To figure it out, we compared the stats of this year’s big transfers with classic players in the same position, at the same age, to estimate their value based on vital statistics (e.g. goals and clean sheets).

For example, we compared Johan Cruyff’s goal record with Arsenal recruit Alexandre Lacazette, and a 27-year-old Maldini’s career clean sheets with Kyle Walker.

We also factored in the most prestigious personal award in the game – the Ballon d’Or. If a player had won this illustrious honour, we boosted their value by 36.6% – a percentage based on the average market value rise for a player after winning. Illustrations through the article are by Giffgaff X Dan Evans.

Tony Adams – £64,100,000

Compared to: Victor Lindelöf

A stalwart of the Arsenal defence, Tony Adams was the foundation of multiple title wins in a truly memorable era in the Gunners’ history. Adams had already accumulated 60 clean sheets by the tender age of 23, and would go on to claim the second best clean defensive record in the history of the Premier League, with a clean sheet in 45.1% of the games he played.

Zinedine Zidane – £67,000,000

Compared to: Gylfi Sigurdsson

The current Real Madrid manager needs little introduction – a force of nature in midfield, Zidane won the Series A title, La Liga, the Champions League, the World Cup, and a boatload of domestic and international cups (remember the Intertoto Cup? He won it).

Our estimate gives Zidane a bargain price of £67 million, a price that would definitely see him snapped up by one of the world’s top clubs.

Diego Maradona – £94,000,000

Compared to: Romelu Lukaku

Diego Maradona – even at 24 – had a better goal scoring record than Romelu Lukaku. He would go on to achieve multiple titles for Napoli, Boca Juniors, and Barcelona, lift the World Cup with Argentina, and break millions of English hearts in the process.

He’s been given a value of £94 million due to his impressive 210 goals scored for club and country, which would be money well spent considering the iconic status he’d already achieved – just imagine the shirt sales.

Thierry Henry – £103,000,000

Compared to: Alexandre Lacazette

Thierry Henry was the definition of a Premier League star, scoring an obscene number of goals for perhaps the best Arsenal team that will ever exist.  We compared his record to new signing Lacazette, who arrived on a big money deal from Lyon, giving Henry a well-earned £103 million transfer fee.

Paolo Maldini – £111,000,000

Compared to: Kyle Walker

As part of AC Milan’s monolithic defence with centre back partner Baresi, Maldini was a true defensive icon and legend of Italian football. By the time he was 27 (the same age as Kyle Walker when he made his move from Spurs to Manchester City) he’d notched up 130 clean sheets, which would give him an intimidating £111 million transfer fee.

Michel Platini – £155,000,000

Compared to: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Perhaps better known for his roles in UEFA and FIFA to a certain generation of football fans, Platini was an incredibly talented midfielder for the likes of Saint-Étienne and Juventus in his playing days.

Notching 255 goals for club and his native Italy, Platini’s value would be an incredible £155 million, a fair price considering he’d go on to win the Ballon d’Or three times and win a myriad of domestic and international trophies.

George Best – £157,000,000

Compared to: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Winner of the Ballon d’Or by the time he was 27, George Best’s incredible career as Manchester United’s favourite winger created a cult of celebrity back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Comparing his attacking record with Everton’s so far disappointing signing Gylfi Sigurdsson sets his transfer fee at £157 million ­– a bargain given his significant influence on the modern game.

Johan Cruyff – £250,000,000

Compared to: Alexandre Lacazette

A revolutionary footballer who changed the perceptions of what a player should and could be, Cruyff laid the foundations that would guide Catalan super-club Barcelona on a path to success.

Technically gifted and lethal in front of goal, Cruyff had already won the Ballon d’Or twice by the time he was 27, and when compared to Lacazette, his asking price would be an impressive £250 million.

Ferenc Puskás – £258,700,000

Compared to: Neymar Jr

Hungary’s most famous export, Puskás pulled the strings up front for Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid for years, bagging an eyewatering 379 goals for club and country by his 25th birthday.

Widely regarded as one of the best forwards to ever live, the legend of Puskás lives on through the annual goal competition bearing his name.

Pelé – £351,000,000

Compared to: Neymar Jr

Who else? Pelé was a goal machine throughout his career, notching up an intimidating number of goals for Santos and the Brazilian national team over his illustrious career.

Pelé had bagged 515 goals in total by the time he was 25, and when compared to Neymar Jr’s 293, this would give him the highest transfer fee on our roster, at an incredible £351 million.

Are players really better today? Do they justify the incredible amount that teams are prepared to spend in the modern transfer market? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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