CIES is the International Centre for Sports Studies, located in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Federation Inernationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchatel, the City and the State of Neuchatel.

The CIES Football Observatory was set up in 2005 under the name of the Professional Football Players Observatory. Since 2011, it is one of the cornerstones of the vast CIES observatory project, dedicated to the statistical analysis of sport in all of its diversity.

The CIES Football Observatory lauched the 2013 Annual Review on the 13th June, 2013 in Neuchatel-Switzerland. It presents a comparative analysis of clubs and players in the big-5 European Leagues at demographic, economic and pitch performance levels. Review notably reveals that Lionel Messi would largely break the 94 million euro transfer fee record. Estimated on the basis of an exclusive econometric model, his value is between 217 and 252 million euro. With estimated value between 102 and 118 million, Cristiano Ronaldo would probably break his own record also.


At club level, the analysis shows that Barcelona holds the greatest assests from a player economic value perspective: 658 million euro. This figure is 3x higher than that spent on signing the players used during the 2012/13 season. This reflects the extraordinary ability of the Catalan side to train, launch and add value to home-grown players.

Lionel Messi is not only the most expensive big-5 League player, but also the most decisive one for the 2012/13 season. The ranking is based on the performances for 5 key indicators: shooting, chance creation, take on, distribution and recovery. The Argentinian outranks Champions League winner Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Most decisive young player was Mario Gotze. The new Bayern Munich signing is followed by two promising young Belgian players belonging to Chelsea: Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

Performance Analysis at club level shows that Bayern Munich’s fantastic season was the result of the unmatched balance between attack, distribution and defence. The Champions League winner tops the German Bundesliga for the 3 key team performance indicators, covered by our analysis: defensive solidarity, grip on the game and attacking incisiveness. No other champion was able to do so.


The 2013 Annual Review also investigates the evolution in competitive balance within the leagues since 03/04. With the exception of Italy, point gaps between teams are on the increase. This trend is particularly marked in Spain and Germany. Over the last decade, 3 most successful clubs achieved more than 60% of podium ranks in all the leagues, up to 80% in Spain and England (24 out of 30).

In 2012/13, money spent in transfer fees to sign 1st team players was highly correlated to club results in all leagues. All the champions were among the 3 biggest spenders in their respective leagues. This confirms the strong influence of money on success.

Without new regulatory measures/mechanisms to improve income distribution, competitive balance will be further jeopardised by the transformation of top level clubs into global brands, their regular participation in the increasingly lucrative Champions League and investments made by wealthy owners.