The Liverpool and England international came out on top of a Soccerex study by Prime Time Sport of European football’s best under-21s.
The news comes as Manchester City are rumoured to be preparing to table a £ 50m bid for the youngster. Sterling is valued at around £ 35.5m in the study, well ahead of second-placed Marquinhos of Paris St. Germain, who remains a target for both Real Madrid and Manchester United.
In third place is Memphis Depay, who was recently bought by United for £25m, just slightly more than his valuation.
The Soccerex 20 U-21 report has been commissioned to commemorate Soccerex’s 20th anniversary as the industry’s leading global football business event.
The Football Value Index was compiled by Prime Time Sport and takes into account the player’s age, position, current club, contract length, market value perception, international caps, minutes played, goals, injuries and technical quality from a variety of sources to arrive at a final valuation. The Football Value Index is used by football clubs and the sport industry, to have an independent and accurate valuation of football players.
The report underlines the appeal and resource-potential of England’s Premier League. Of the top 20, seven ply their trade in England, although just four are actually English – Sterling, Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton) and Callum Chambers (Arsenal). A total of 17 of the top 20 were born in Europe.
The report also discovered that England has the lowest percentage of homegrown players – just 33% – eligible to play for the national team.
The top 10: 1 – Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) 34.5; 2- Marquinhos (PSG) 27.8; 3 – Depay (PSV) 23.5; 4- Berardi (Sassuolo) 21.4; 5 – Gimenez (Atletico Madrid) 21.1; 6 – Çalhanoğlu (Bayer Leverkusen) 19.2; 7 – Kovacic (Inter) 18.3; 8 – Gaya (Valencia) 18.1; 9 – Shaw (Man. Utd) 17.8; 10 – Laporte (Bilbao) 18.8.
Soccerex Chief Executive Duncan Revie – son of legendary Leeds United manager, Don – said: “This report demonstrates the hugely talented pool of players under the age of 21 available to our European clubs. Ultimately, the lifeblood of any successful club is the players they are able to develop and nurture and the report identifies the premium that clubs place on this kind of exciting young talent.”
The survey includes all footballers who were 20 years old or younger on January 1, 2015 and includes only players registered with European clubs.