Looking Ahead: Peak Performers

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They’re the faces of their clubs. They hoard the gossip columns. And they bring home the returns on Football Index.

A new generation is coming – think Jadon Sancho (£13.70), Kylian Mbappe (£10.20) and Mason Greenwood (£9.73) – but the present still belongs to a core group of stars at Europe’s top clubs.

But what does their future hold in the short-term?

We assess the top five over-25s on the Index…

Bruno Fernandes (£10.83)

FI rank: 2

Manchester United

25 years old

The Premier League has a long history of individuals transforming clubs.

And not just talismanic French forwards – Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry, Christophe Dugarry – but Portuguese midfielders now too. One of Cristiano Ronaldo’s (£3.11) many legacies at Old Trafford was to inspire a new generation to emulate what he achieved.

But even he didn’t start his Manchester United career anything like Bruno Fernandes. Granted the latter is an older, more refined player than Ronaldo was when he arrived, but the expectation is the same.

It hasn’t daunted Fernandes one bit though, and his seven goals and seven assists from just 10 Premier League games is a quite remarkable return.

Perhaps even more so than that, his incisive passing and determined approach has brought the best out of others around him, particularly Anthony Martial (£2.95) and an altogether sunnier Paul Pogba (£7.48).

It’s hard to believe that Fernandes was valued at just £5.07 when he joined United at the end of January, since then he has risen 114%.

And yet there’s a feeling there’s still so much more to come.

Neymar (£9.46)

FI rank: 6

Paris Saint-Germain

28 years old

Perhaps it’s a sign of the levels Lionel Messi (£5.06) and Ronaldo have reached, but why do five domestic titles and one UEFA Champions League not feel like the ceiling of Neymar’s career?

Going to Paris Saint-Germain was meant to herald the coronation of the Brazilian as the aforementioned duo’s successor, but it hasn’t really turned out like that – unless perhaps further Champions League success arrives this summer.

We won’t have long to find out, with the competition set to restart in August.

The big question is, will the long break – Ligue 1 was the only one of the major five European leagues to be abandoned – help or hinder PSG?

For a side that have traditionally been undercooked due to weak domestic opposition, the latter is more likely to be true.

But let’s not forget Neymar has the likes of Mbappe, Mauro Icardi (£1.51) and Marco Verratti (£1.29) alongside him, and if he helps bring home a maiden Champions League crown to Paris, expect his already global star to wax further.

Paul Pogba (£7.48)

FI rank: 10

Manchester United

27 years old

Paul Pogba has been gluttonous in his dominance of Media Dividends on the Index, but perhaps in a sign of his increasing contentedness at the Theatre of Dreams, he has seen a small downtick of late.

However, there is news and then there’s Pogba news, and rumours of his new contract at Manchester United have once again seen him top the media pile in recent days.

If you know what you’re getting on a media front, then Share Price value is altogether different with the Frenchman.

For example, last November he was as low as £5.77, yet by March he was up at £8.22.

In a similar way that his profile works in his favour for Media Dividends, it seems to work against his Share Price for negative news, just because it’s him.

But if he becomes part of a title-challenging United side next term, then he could become a bona fide Index triple threat – a candidate for both Match Day and Media Dividends, as well as Capital Appreciation. 

Harry Kane (£6.41)

FI rank: 11

Tottenham Hotspur

26 years old

With every Spurs game that passes, it feels like Harry Kane’s loyalty to his boyhood club must be ebbing away.

Was their zenith that run of top-four finishes and a Champions League final?

Jose Mourinho was meant to be Daniel Levy’s managerial icing, providing the elusive next step that Mauricio Pochettino couldn’t.

But with Spurs’ anaemic displays coming sooner than anyone could’ve imagined into the Portuguese’s tenure, what does Levy do from here?

Notorious for his cost-effective dealings, he surely won’t countenance paying off Mourinho, certainly not for another season at least.

So where does that leave Kane? Can he tolerate another trophy-less season of underachievement, after which point he will be 28?

The looming decision will not be easy for him, or for his suitors. Real Madrid are one of them, but three things make that an uneasy marriage from the outset: 

1) The injury-ridden season of their last similarly-aged, similarly-priced Premier League recruit, Eden Hazard (£3.49).

2) Gareth Bale’s (£2.00) lack of integration creating an impression of British players abroad.

3) COVID-19 realities, which means they will have to sell before they can buy, particularly Luka Jovic (£1.76), who – it was thought – would become Real’s long-term central striker.

Lots of water to go under the bridge for Kane then, but with a career-defining move (possibly) and a home Euros to come next summer, now could be a good time to snap him up.

Raheem Sterling (£5.78)

FI rank: 14

Manchester City

25 years old

If the closing weeks of the interrupted season have not seen Raheem Sterling back to his glittering best, they have at least seen him back in the goals – three since the June resumption.

Before that, it had been – by his lofty standards – a famine, going seven games in the Premier League without scoring or assisting, from late December to early March.

His Share Price climbed as high as £7.11 in November last year, but dipped in line with his form, and is now at its lowest in nearly a year.

But with the Champions League culmination ahead, and that home Euros at his Wembley in the longer-term, could now be a good time to buy?

*Prices accurate at time of writing.


About Author

Rob is a football writer who has featured on MARCA, Crystal Palace and Mundial.

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