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Recruiting talent in a global sports market: appraisals of soccer players' transfer fees

Pedro Garcia-del-Barrio (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain)
Francesc Pujol (Department of Economics, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain)

Managerial Finance

ISSN: 0307-4358

Article publication date: 14 July 2020

Issue publication date: 3 June 2021




The main goal of this paper is to evaluate the players' contribution and economic value in the soccer industry. Media visibility records provide us with comparable metrics to identify talent and make hiring decisions – these records can jointly capture sport (on-field) skills and other attractive (off-field) abilities.


This paper presents a valuation method that applies media visibility appraisals to estimate “theoretical values” of the transfer fees paid for hiring soccer players. The estimations are performed by analysing the evolution over time of the media exposure of about 5,000 individuals of more than 200 clubs.


The study’s empirical results reveal that, along with sport performance, the players' media status also affects their economic valuation, which explains why the clubs – in search of greater economic returns – fiercely compete for the most popular players. The paper also identifies the main factors determining the players' economic value. In predicting the players' transfer fees, some variables are statistically significant: individual media visibility, media visibility share of the player within his team, contract duration, status of the hiring team, years of experience, player's age at the end of the contract and the domestic league of the hiring team.


Professional sports provide reliable measures on individuals' performance that may help in the hiring process of workers. This paper identifies gifted soccer players while taking into account their skills as media leaders and the economic implications. Insofar as players' talents determine their teams' sport and economic achievements, the transfer fees paid for players must then be seen as a crucial factor. Measuring individual talent and being able to translate this talent into productivity levels entail serious methodological and empirical challenges.



Authors are grateful to Javier Reguart, Bruno Montoro and Xavier Viñeta for valuable research work. Authors also benefited from comments made by Toni Mora, Tom P. Vandebroek and Pablo Agnese. In collecting data, Authors acknowledge the support given by: Adrià Canalda, Adrián Guerrero, Carlos Gramunt, Josep Maria Espina, Guillermo Sierra, Asier López de Foronda, Arnau Raventós, Nicolás Becerra and Jef Schröder. Any remaining errors are our own.


Garcia-del-Barrio, P. and Pujol, F. (2021), "Recruiting talent in a global sports market: appraisals of soccer players' transfer fees", Managerial Finance, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 789-811.



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