The top 10 most valuable players outside Europe’s big five leagues in 2023
The most valuable players in world football are typically at Europe’s most prestigious clubs, the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and PSG – but life does exist outside of Europe’s top five leagues.
Discarding La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Premier League, there is real talent emerging, particularly in Portugal and the Netherlands.
While the continued emergence of the MLS, alongside the rather more abrupt arrival of the Saudi Super League, ensures there’s a diverse roll-call on this list of the top 10 most valuable players outside of Europe’s top five leagues in 2023.
Note: all the valuations come from Transfermarkt.
10. Pedro Goncalves (Sporting Lisbon, €32million)
Sporting were one of Europe’s most underrated sides last season, knocking Arsenal out of the Europa League and playing some thrilling football – with Goncalves orchestrating things from midfield.
English fans will remember his stunning halfway-line effort at the Emirates and it’s certainly impressed Unai Emery, with Aston Villa heavily linked with the 24-year-old.
Pedro Gonçalves 🤩
— UEFA.com em português (@UEFAcom_pt) June 28, 2023
=5. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami, €35million)
=5. Otavio (Porto, €35million)
Having been at Porto since 2014, it’s only in the last few seasons that Otavio’s qualities have been widely recognised in Portugal.
Tough in the tackle and blessed with a radar-worthy passing range, the midfielder is at the heart of everything good about the Portuguese giants. The 28-year-old has been tentatively linked with a move to Saudi Arabia this summer.
=5. Ibrahim Sangare (PSV, €35million)
For a country that has failed to reach the last two World Cups, Ivory Coast have a midfield trio that would match up to any side in world football.
Lining up alongside Seko Fofana and Franck Kessie, Sangare has blossomed at PSV and has attracted attention from some of Europe’s richest clubs. It’d be a surprise to see him in the Eredivisie next season.
=5. Edson Alvarez (Ajax, €35million)
In a disappointing season for Ajax, Alvarez was one of their few shining lights with his composed performances in midfield.
But the Mexico international still suffered a dip in the second half of the season as the Dutch giants finished outside of the Champions League places for the first time since 2015-16.
Alvarez has been linked with a move away this summer and is expected to be Jude Bellingham’s replacement at Borussia Dortmund rather than Declan Rice’s at West Ham.
=5. Orkun Kokcu (Benfica, €35million)
Benfica have an enviable track record of signing hidden gems and their capture of Kokcu for €25 million looks to be another canny purchase.
Fresh from captaining Feyenoord to the Dutch title last season, the 22-year-old Kokcu is Benfica’s record purchase. But nobody will be surprised if they sell him for a profit in the next year or two.
=2. Ruben Neves (Al-Hilal, €40million)
Neves was linked with Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester United this summer, but chose the Saudi coin instead. A real shame.
=2. Mohamed Kudus (Ajax, €40million)
One of the most exciting young talents at the World Cup, scoring twice for Ghana in their three group matches, Kudus has turned heads in the Premier League with his thrilling directness and end product at Ajax.
Both Brighton and Manchester United have been strongly linked with the 22-year-old and he has all the attributes to shine in England should a move come to frutition.
=2. Xavi Simons (PSV, €40million)
Simons shone last season as PSV finished second in the Eredivisie and qualified for the Champions League, leading PSG to activate their €6million buy-back-clause on the Netherlands international.
Intelligent, skilful and fearless, we’re sure Simons would shine at the Parc des Princes, but we wouldn’t blame him for deciding that staying in Eindhoven would benefit his career more in the longer term.
1. Diogo Costa (Porto, €45million)
At €45million, Costa is the highest-valued player outside of Europe’s top five leagues and has already established himself as Portugal’s first-choice goalkeeper.
Linked with the poisoned chalices at Chelsea and Manchester United, the 23-year-old could demand around €75million (£64.2m) to sanction an exit from Porto.
That would make him the second most expensive goalkeeper of all time, behind Kepa Arrizabalaga. He could be worth it.