It’s time for the monthly dive into prices.
This is where I look at average prices on the market to try to answer these questions:
– how much are traders willing to pay for desirable players in each position?
– what exactly is it that makes a player desirable and drives up the price right now?
This helps us figure out:
– when a player has risen to a point we may want to consider selling.
– what price a lower priced player can realistically get to if they break out and become desirable.
Lots of factors go into what a player’s price “should” be. There is no one size fits all price for every type of player. But I find knowing the rough average is a helpful guide.
This is not a complicated equation – I simply look at players that I know are well regarded in the market and find an average of what traders are willing to pay for a known strong player in each position, whether on or off trend.
It’s my judgement and interpretation of who is considered good / on trend and has moved in price. It’s not just a raw reading of the numbers.
This is useful for determining when we might want to consider selling a player, or how much profit we might reasonably make if buying a cheap player who breaks out.
Lots of players, like the “Full Season Fit” players from Key Strategy can get away with being way above Guide Prices – but if a player is at or above Guide Prices – they need solid reasons why and we should make sure they stay true if holding.
On Trend Known Strong Player Average:
- Defender: £1.40 – £1.70 Change: +10p to 20p
- Midfielder: £2.30 – £2.60 Change: None
- Forward: £2.40 – £2.70 Change: None
Off Trend Known Strong Player
- Defender: 70p – 90p Change: None
- Midfielder: £1.20 – £1.40 Change: -10p to -20p
- Forward: £1.20 > £1.30 Change: -20p to -40p
Media Modifier: x2 to x3 value for players considered to have high media dividend potential.
On Trend Players
We’ve seen a lot of market movements in the last month as people increasingly switch on to the importance of players who have a shelf life beyond just this season.
But interestingly, what people are generally prepared to pay for a well regarded on trend player has barely shifted at all.
What has shifted is who is well regarded and lots of players have been changing places in the price charts.
For midfielders and forwards, most well regarded players end up in the £2.30 to £2.70 range. Many can go much higher, but they need something special to push them beyond £3+, be that media returns or potential, a hype transfer possibility, or exceptional performance strength.
Defenders have bucked that trend and do seem to have got a significant price bump for the desirable ones and I’ll cover that more below.
Off Trend Players
We have however seen significant dips for strong performance players who are coming off trend, mainly because they lack that key strategy full season fit. And this will generally be even worse if they are 28+ and particularly bad if they are 30+.
This reflects the increased importance of trend factors I’ve been discussing. Performance strength used to be enough on it’s own in early-season. Now they need performance strength and a trend fit to keep pushing upwards.
The highest performing off trend players, currently Ilicic, Immobile and Payet in my view, are making a manful fight of it. They are holding up fairly well, but they have to be smashing it out of the park to do it.
As soon as their consistency drops, and it will for all players, they take a beating. Look at the price charts of Parejo and Di Maria for example.
Interestingly though, Di Maria is now creeping back up. So what I discussed yesterday in State of the Market about opportunities opening up in elite veterans, particularly if they have the CL ahead, seems to have an early candidate.
I suspect more will appear if veterans keep taking a beating – that over pessimism can put them back in value range. Being off trend is fine if they have good qualities and a cut price.
Making Money Got Harder
Lots of players have risen and fallen in the last month due to the changing trends and good/bad performances.
But it’s not just raising the prices of the majority of top 200 players across the board.
In previous months we’ve seen market surges that are good for almost everyone. But we actually haven’t seen that since October.
That’s why many traders feel like it’s been a struggle in recent months. But really, we’re a bit spoiled by the crazy rises of recent years and it’s actually probably just been “normal”.
It’s been very possible to make good money in this period (though significantly less than October). But it’s required much more active trading to succeed and the old “buy and hold 10,000 Neymar plus any 10 from the top 50, open a beer” strategy is not working anymore.
This is normal as a market matures. And what we should increasingly expect going forward (although we still have plenty of those market surge “free money” days left most likely as new users come in and dividend increases etc are announced).
As FI establishes as a mainstream product and becomes more popular, it’s naturally going to get more competitive and we won’t be able to rely on these huge surges in the market to lift all boats.
This is nothing to fear provided we are skillful, thoughtful traders. If we plan ahead with a good strategy and pay attention to the performance ups and downs of players over the season we can keep making good money.
It is very much something to fear for bad traders, usually with gambling mentalities, whose multitude of trading sins has been glossed over by the rising market.
I think there are a lot of long standing traders out there who feel confident because they have made some money, when really they have been barely keeping up with the market. (I’m working on a collaboration piece with @FIMarketCap on Twitter later where I’ll be looking into what beating the market means).
They will get a shock when things toughen up and it’s another reason why establishing good habits now is a good idea (it also makes you more money now).
In fact, it’s probably many veterans who can be vulnerable to sloppy habits rather than newer traders who are learning in a tougher market. Rough seas makes for good sailors as they say.
I see a notable increase for on trend, well regarded defenders like Reguilon and Upamecano. They’ve shown quality and done something to deserve it.
And we’re now seeing defenders like this push into the £1.40 and £1.70 range fairly easily and hold the price. It was quite difficult to get a defender over £1.50 not long ago and this is a change. People are now willing to pay a bit more for defenders.
However, it has to be the right defenders.
Note the drops for the obvious garbage like Brandon Williams, Fikayo Tomori who join previous failures like Wan-Bissaka. Again, all were the hype kid of the day at some point and I highlighted their weakness in Scouting. All taking thrashings because their weakness is exposed over time.
Even relatively good players like Hakimi and Theo Hernandez suffer if they hit a hot streak then fade slightly after reaching a price higher than they can really support.
But note there is no real reason for defenders to be worth more now. None have shown the consistent ability to win dividends. There isn’t enough to distinguish one decent defender from another. And they are trading wins and spreading the dividends between a lot of good but not spectacular players.
Alexander-Arnold and now Van Dijk are the only two to have won with consistency. And for Alexander-Arnold, it’s nowhere near enough to warrant a £7+ price tag. Van Dijk can just about get away with it. I was keen on him in recent months at £2.50 but as he creeps up towards £3.50 that will start to get questionable too.
This is why the “flying fullback” nonsense peddled on social media is just that, and I said that when it started in October. Yes crosses and assists help but we knew that already. Here’s a quote from my analysis of the performance scoring changes last July:
“Creative defenders who have a high number of passes and convert them into assists and key passes should perform very strongly this year, particularly from dominant teams who keep clean sheets.
With the way you can stack up points now for just one assist, a good creative high baseline defender might have enough to punch through a weak defender who scores a game winning goal now.
This could further hurt the high baseline defender who does a lot but does not regularly score or assist.”
This is a full 3 months before social media manufactured the flying fullback craze. Then you get people popping up in October with “analysis” claiming to have invented the concept of the creative full back.
I won’t complain because obviously if you spot it first you’ll make the most money once it is popularised. But it’s still silly and we shouldn’t take the flying fullback thing literally and start overestimating players.
A lot of the “flying fullback” defenders are not really as good as many people think (i.e Chilwell). We can buy the type to try to take them up to a high price and exploit the trend.
But we don’t want to hang onto any overpriced/hyped ones too long. Certainly not the Brandon Williams car crash waiting to happen type.
When they have performance suitability and prospects like Upamecano, Reece James or Reguilon we can generally hang on a bit longer but at £2+ they really have to do something special to keep that price.
Midfielders and Forwards
Whilst the average price of forwards is still £2.40 to £2.70 and comparable to midfielders, it’s notable how many higher priced outliers there are in this group.
Good forwards clearly have a much higher chance of breaking into the premium £3-4 range than midfielders do. They generally have higher price ceilings.
My theory is that this is primarily media related. When it really comes down to it, the media generally talk about goalscorers, the majority of which are forwards.
Forget the chatter about regular media dividends for England full backs like Alexander-Arnold, it’s just not going to happen that often outside of rare one off big stories.
There are a few exceptions. Pogba has been because he’s such a huge personality and at Manchester United. Bruno Fernandes is a midfielder who can do well for media, but again, he’s got that Manchester United bias and is a goal scoring midfielder.
But the common trait that £3+ players midfielders and forwards share is either being Neymar or Messi, or the hope that one day they will have the media pull of Neymar or Messi.
Another reason would be that the midfield category is much more competitive. You generally need higher scores to win it. That’s why players like Kroos, De Bruyne, Fernandes can be so valuable. And Alcantara, Parejo too (trends depending for Parejo). Their consistency and potential for 300+ scores gets their head above the competition.
But when you can find a very consistent forward, who is also capable of regular 250-300 scores, they are rightly more valuable than a midfielder. There is just a greater chance of them winning in a less competitive category.
When you combine that with forwards generally scoring more goals and increasing their chance of winning media, it makes sense that the best forwards should be pushing high prices.
This is why I highlighted in Key Strategy the potential for FI to open up to new territories and what a big impact that may have on media payouts and therefore player values.
There is a huge EPL bias caused by two factors:
– The vastly increased likelihood of the UK centric media highlighting EPL players and transfers.
– Most traders watch far more of the EPL, notice even minor good performances, and feel more comfortable holding players they know.
But when/if we see FI opened up to Germany or Spain, that all flips on it’s head.
Foreign league players are going to start to pull in more media. EPL players will automatically pull in less. It’s a competition.
German or Spanish traders will also naturally favour their own league as they watch it more.
Should new territories happen, and there is a good chance they will, there is every reason for foreign league players to increase in value and EPL players to decline or stagnate.
It’s good to put ourselves on the right side of this. Especially because the foreign leagues offer best value as it is. I rarely hold EPL players at all anyway, certainly not after the initial price rise.
Fernandes is the exception as I’ve highlighted previously. As a case study, let’s discuss why would I hold Fernandes after a rise and not someone like Braut-Haaland.
It’s about the price ceiling.
Price Ceilings Example
As a goalscoring, creative midfielder, Fernandes is capable of winning performance even at Manchester United. The first game had encouraging signs, but it’s early days and we need to keep an eye on that. But he’s got a great history of performance suitability and until proven otherwise in the coming games, I’m happy to bet on this.
Now, as an EPL Manchester United goalscorer he is very likely to be contending for media dividends too.
So, whilst he’s £5 now, I would comfortably judge his potential price ceiling to be £7, and that’s possibly conservative. He’s also pulling in huge dividends right now as raw profit on top.
That gives me solid reasons to hold, and was why I didn’t care when he recently dropped to £4.78, he’s now back to £5.22 anyway.
Now we look at Haaland. He’s been pushed to £6.25, now coming down to £5.95.
He’s shown nothing in his career except awful performance statistics. Betting on this improving enough to matter is a fool’s errand. Performance wins are likely to be rare and there is zero evidence to the contrary. Never has been.
He is a good goalscorer, and could score enough hatricks in a season to bag a win or two. And he’ll return IPD, although at £6+, IPD is negligible. The very best of these goal scoring, FI unsuitable players typically hang out in the £2 to £2.50 range eventually once things settle down.
Had he come to Manchester United, things could have been different. The media pull if he succeeded could have been considerable, and you might fairly peg him at £4-5 if that had happened.
But it didn’t. He’s squirreled away in the Bundesliga, which for now at least, is going to net him very little media except perhaps on rare Champions League nights if he has a big game.
So add all that up, and there is really no reason for Haaland to do anything but drift down to £3.50 or even lower eventually. It’s always possible – he might dramatically change his style. Or he might score hatricks every game for a month. But I think you’d have to be crazy to bet on that for £6+ a share.
Now, if we did see a market open in Germany and Bundesliga media opened up… that will improve things for him. That £3.50-£4 range might become a sensible value.
But he’s still well over that. And Haaland won’t be the only one to benefit – it’s pretty clear that having lower priced Bundesliga players at Bayern or Dortmund would likely deliver greater profits from this.
Some interesting price movements and we’re really seeing the impact of trend factors and needing a reason to hold a player into late season and Summer.
We’ve known that for a while and indeed been preparing for that in Key Strategy since October but it’s really getting obvious to most people now.
It will only really get worse, at least until the players who took price drops as a result hit rock bottom and become value again. Because the veterans at 30+ took the toughest beating, I suspect it will be them who hit value range again soonest.
We’ll need as many positive factors working for our players as possible as we head deeper into 2020. And obviously, we need to avoid the negative pulls (age is an increasing factor, lack of Euros, lack of Europa/CL increasingly an issue too).
This is what will help us benefit from the “funnelling” effect I discuss often. As some players come off trend and lose traction, that money will tend to go to those with real reasons to be at high prices in the months ahead.
When our players go above the Guide Prices – that’s fine – but we need to satisfy ourselves that there is a very clear story behind that high price.
And if the story is right and they are ticking all the boxes yet are currently undervalued and well below the Guide Price, we can reasonably expect them to increase in price just as soon as they do something to get attention.
In the coming month I expect the Europa and CL knockouts to be a major factor.
Whilst the CL matches are just bronze days, there is a lot riding on them. A knockout can remove one of your full season fit reasons to hold. Not a disaster if they have other reasons like a Summer transfer or Euro 2020 to back it up. But if the CL is a big part of the reason to hold them they will be vulnerable to a knock out.
Be on the particular look out for upsets. An unexpected knock out can crash the price of a whole team. See Juventus last year.
On the other hand, players who are expected to be knocked out generally go in there with a free hit. It will surprise nobody when they go out and the selling should be light.
And if they win… they can rocket.
So if a player is sold in the build up to the game because they are expected to be knocked out, picking them up can be a great move especially if there are good reasons to hold them apart from that game.