It is nearly that magical time of the footballing calendar when top-tier players looking to advance their careers and also cash in on new contracts make anticipated moves from current clubs to new teams looking to improve during summer transfer windows. The past several years have seen monumental transfers that have changed the faces of some of the most-watched leagues on the planet. Tottenham Hotspur selling Welsh wonder Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and Luis Suarez making the switch from Liverpool to Barcelona are just two examples of moves that affected multiple clubs, the Premier League and La Liga.
The CIES Football Observatory website consistently updates the list of the footballers deemed by that website to be the most valuable at any point and time during the year. That organization uses a variety of different factors to come up with these estimated values, the last of which were posted less than a month before the 2015 summer transfer windows open. Three of the four men who are referred to as the most valuable footballers in the world today not all that surprisingly play for the top two sides of La Liga that also happen to be two of the largest sports entities on the planet.
It is worth noting that multiple players that are featured in this piece are probably not making exits from their clubs anytime soon. One could, as an example, safely assume that Barcelona will choose to hold onto Lionel Messi for another season regardless of what the club is offered for the services of the man who is seen by many to be the best overall footballer in the world. A teammate of his who is also in the top-four of the list of the most valuable players of 2015 is also staying put for the foreseeable future. The same may be said about the individual who begins this list, a front man who may soon be featuring for a Premier League side.
1 Karim Benzema: €44.6-49.1 million
All indications are that the French forward is set to be shown the door by Real Madrid, as the Spanish giants are believed to be shopping for younger options at the position. Karim Benzema turned just 27 years old last December, and thus it is not a stretch to suggest that he still has plenty left in the tank as the summer of 2015 approaches. The Premier League could soon come calling, with two teams in particular being linked with the forward. Manchester City and Manchester United could both be planning offers that could be made for Benzema as early as July of this year.
19. Oscar: €47.5-52.3 million
The months of the year that lead up to and that also include the summer transfer window are often referred to as the “silly season” of the footballing calendar because of the rumors that often pop up during those times. It is not crazy to suggest that Chelsea would be willing to move Oscar if offered a historic amount of money, but the Premier League champions do not appear to be interested in making such a deal at this time. Jose Mourinho can be eccentric, sure, but selling such a talented midfield maestro to a side such as Juventus just to do it does not make a lot of business sense on paper.
18. Thibaut Courtois: €50.3-55.3 million
Thibaut Courtois is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and in the professional game today, a 23-year-old budding phenom who should only get better the more that he plays top-flight football and the more that he participates in competitions such as the Champions League. One would imagine that you can file those “Courtois to Real Madrid for £100m” transfer rumors as being stories that are more out of a video game than reality. No club should spend that much on a goalkeeper, and Chelsea have no business in looking to make a downgrade at that position.
17. Philippe Coutinho: €50.4-55.5 million
There should not be much controversy about what is going to happen with Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho during the summer transfer window. While Coutinho did suffer a thigh injury when training with the Brazil Men's National Team, that is not expected to at all affect his standing with the Premier League outfit. Coutinho was a bright spot during what was a disappointing campaign for manager Brendan Rodgers and his side, and the outstanding midfielder who turned 23 years old in June 2015 is expected to play a big role in the Reds attempting to once again return to the Champions League.
16. Gareth Bale: €51.3-56.4 million
The shine has evaporated from the apple that was Gareth Bale making that historic move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid two summers ago. Following a season that saw the former Spurs star net match-winners in the Copa del Rey Final and Champions League Final, Bale was the recipient of boos from home crowds after not living up to the hype during multiple matches. There have, for months, been rumors swirling about that Bale could be on the verge of making a return to the Premier League, but it is believed that he would like to give it at least another season at the Spanish outfit.
15. Harry Kane: €53.5-58.9 million
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy has been called many things by critics and by Tottenham supporters over the years. “On the run” may be the latest description for Levy if he even contemplates taking offers for the services of Harry Kane during the summer of 2015. The Spurs striker had a breakout year while playing in the system utilized by manager Mauricio Pochettino, so much so that he has been praised as England's best forward. Spurs have a history of selling their stars to clubs such as Real Madrid. Kane wearing anything other than Tottenham Lilywhite during the upcoming Premier League could lead to a fan revolt.
14. Isco: €57.2-62.9 million
That status of Isco remains very much so up in the air with the summer transfer window about to open. Real Madrid are believed to be once again looking to make upgrades to the club's squad, which could leave the young attacking midfielder as surplus to requirements. The 23-year-old should have plenty of suitors if it becomes known that Real are fielding offers for his services. Juventus and Manchester United are just two sides rumored to be interested in signing Isco, who may, in the end, choose that he wants to fight for his spot in the current Real team.
13. Cesc Fabregas: €58.7-64.5 million
Remember, Arsenal fans, that you can always remember the good times. Cesc Fabregas first made his name at the professional level while with the Premier League side, where he featured for close to a decade before joining up with Barcelona. That marriage would only last a handful of seasons before Fabregas returned to the England top-flight, agreeing to join Chelsea in June 2014. The 28-year-old midfielder is expected to stay put for the time being after lifting the Premier League trophy as a member of the Blues earlier this year. Fabregas will have multiple chances to again break Arsenal hearts in 2015-16.
12. Antoine Griezmann: €59-64.9 million
The 24-year-old who has worn multiple hats during his professional career is expected to be one of the top targets of the 2015 summer transfer window. Atletico Madrid are believed to be looking to cash in on the sale of the attacking player, and the La Liga side may, if certain reports are to be believed, have already received offers for Griezmann. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are two sides that could benefit from acquiring Griezmann, but Atletico may choose to wait another year if the club believes that Griezmann can help the “other Madrid” side lift a trophy over the next 12 months.
11. Luis Suarez: €60-66 million
Oh, how things can change in only 12 months. It was back during the summer of 2014 when Luis Suarez was Public Enemy No. 1 after he bit an opposing player for at least the third time of his career, most recently when performing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. That incident did not prevent Suarez from getting his dream move to Barcelona, and Suarez ultimately paid back the Spanish giants with performances that helped the club win the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles. Suarez will once again have the privilege of playing for one of the best clubs in the world; because life is often not fair.
10. James Rodriguez: €62.5-68.8 million
While Luis Suarez did further harm to his reputation at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it was on that stage where James Rodriguez became a household name. The Colombia midfielder was one of the breakout stars of that competition, and his play there helped push his move to Real Madrid following the tournament. The 2014-15 season was a letdown for a Real side that is not accustomed to having trophy-less campaigns these days, but does change the fact that the 23-year-old is expected to be in the club's plans for the upcoming season if not longer. Rodriguez was a welcome star of Real's lackluster season.
9. Alexis Sanchez: €67.8-74.6 million
It was an up-and-down campaign for Arsenal, as the Gunners routed Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final but also failed to keep up with Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League table. What was a bright spot for Arsenal for much of the campaign was the play of Alexis Sanchez. The forward agreed to terms with Arsenal in the summer of 2014, and he was a hit right out of the gates in his debut season in the Premier League. Sanchez, a star of Arsenal and Chile, will not be making a departure from the Emirates at any point during the 2015 summer transfer window.
8. Diego Costa: €69.9-76.9 million
Those who would defend Diego Costa would say that he is an emotional footballer who sometimes gets a bit carried away while out on the pitch. Others, however, would point to situations of Costa stomping on opponents as examples of the Chelsea star being a dirty player. It would be unfair to say that Costa has not enjoyed great successes with both Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. There have, since the end of the Premier League season, been rumors that Costa could be looking to make a return to La Liga after one season in the England top-flight, reports that he rejected in June 2015.
7. Paul Pogba: €70.3-77.3 million
One cannot seemingly go an entire day without hearing a transfer rumor regarding 22-year-old Juventus midfielder who can feature in the attack and in defense. Pogba has been linked with moves to numerous sides, including massive clubs such as Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid. Some have deemed Pogba to be the top in-demand player heading into the start of the summer transfer window, with Juventus seemingly at the point of accepting the inevitable Pogba sale. Juve should, considering the amount of teams interested in Pogba, be able to make an impressive amount of money off of that transaction.
6. Raheem Sterling: €73.7-81 million
Choose your favorite Raheem Sterling transfer rumor before the start of July 2015 arrives. There are plenty out there. The 20-year old attacker is said to be eying a Liverpool exit, with Champions League football and also the wages that come with playing in that competition calling his name. Respected ESPN commentator Ian Darke referred to Sterling attempting to force a move from Liverpool this summer as “sad and disgraceful.” It is also a sign of the current state of the sport. Sterling could find himself wearing Manchester City blue before the start of the 2015-16 Premier League.
5. Sergio Aguero: €78.2-86 million
The Manchester City player was the best striker in the Premier League for the 2014-15 season, winning the league's Golden Boot award. Sergio Aguero has been a key contributor for City, and the top scorer playing in England could have a massive move in his near future depending on the outcome of other transfers. Real Madrid, among other teams, are looking for another goal-scorer to add to the squad during the summer. Real can offer Aguero Champions League football, top wages and also life in beautiful Spain. That could prove to be tempting for the 27-year-old.
4. Neymar: €89.6-98.5 million
It is often wise to avoid making guarantees as it pertains to the world of sports. Wacky events occur in competitions, and careers and rosters can be forever changed due to one misstep or other occurrence that leads to a serious injury. With that said, there is no reason to believe that Barcelona would even consider moving on from Neymar at any point in 2015. The 23-year-old superstar is in the early stages of growing his brand, and he is also developing while playing in one of the best leagues in the world. Neymar had a bit of a rough summer at the Copa America, and he will be looking to rebound from that starting in August.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo: €113.3-124.7 million
Somewhere out there exists Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain fans hoping that there is smoke to the fire that is those transfer rumors regarding Cristiano Ronaldo that continue to pop up. It would not be a year without there being some story about Ronaldo being unhappy at Real for one reason or another, and it is likely that he will not he retiring as a member of the club in the future. Anticipated switches to the Premier League and ultimately to Major League Soccer could be coming for Ronaldo down the road, but do not be shocked if he remains at Real for another season.
2. Eden Hazard: €135.4-148.9 million
Some would consider it to be nothing more than a hot take to suggest that Eden Hazard is worth more on the transfer market than Cristiano Ronaldo. Unlike Ronaldo, who has likely hit what has been a historically-high ceiling, Hazard will turn 25 years old in January of 2016. The creative midfielder who would be a mainstay for any Champions League side has only begun to show what he could be capable of while playing in the world's top competitions. Hazard continuing to improve at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho is a scary thought for the rest of the Premier League that could have to face him for years to come.
1. Lionel Messi: €255.3-280.8 million
Remember when Real Madrid were on the verge of a golden era of football in the spring of 2014, one that would leave Barcelona in a supposed “crisis?” Lionel Messi and his teammates had replies to those statements during 2014-15. Barca completed the treble this past season, winning the Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League. Messi has thus emerged as a favorite to once again be named the best overall footballer in the world, and the superstar who will be 28 years old at the start of the upcoming season will not be on the market at any point over the next 12 months.