Top 10 Most Valuable MLS Players in 2023

Top 10 Most Valuable MLS Players in 2023

High-profile transfers and inclusions have improved Major League Soccer’s quality, as it ranks among the fastest-growing football leagues in the world.

David Beckham’s recruitment into LA Galaxy in 2007 comes to mind as a ‘milepost in MLS history.’1

Nevertheless, iconic signings have followed up since then, some of which are still making things happen in the league in this day and age.

As they say, “The best things in life are expensive,” and some of these signings are a testament to that.

We will now review some of the most valuable MLS players in 2023, featuring former Barcelona prospect Riqui Puig and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

Most Valuable MLS Players

10. Brandon Vázquez

Brandon Vázquez
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $9.1 million
  • Club: FC Cincinnati
  • Position: Centre-Forward

Vázquez signed his first professional MLS contract with Atlanta United ahead of their inaugural season in 2017.

However, he would make his breakthrough five years later, in 2022, under Pat Noonan’s FC Cincinnati.

Featuring in his CV are two titles with Atlanta United.

He also boasts individual honors as a 2022 All-Star while leading the line in the league’s Best XI.

9. Jesús Ferreira

Jesús Ferreira
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $9.7 million
  • Club: FC Dallas
  • Position: Centre-Forward

Ferreira began his career in the MLS, progressing through FC Dallas’s youth system before breaking into the first team in 2019.

Despite being a home-grown player, the 22-year-old’s performances and individual awards have increased his stock and he now features among the league’s most valuable players.

Jesús Ferreira was named the league’s Young Player of the Year in 2022, featuring in the All-Star and entering Best XI that year.

He also won the CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Boot in 2023 and led the line alongside Panama’s Ismael Diaz in the tournament’s Best XI.

8. Cucho Hernández

Cucho Hernández
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $10.8 million
  • Club: Columbus Crew
  • Position: Centre-Forward

Known for his speed and goal-scoring ability, the Colombian has grown to become the Crew’s star man after joining the club from English Championship’s Watford FC.

The 24-year-old forward joined Columbus Crew for a club-record fee of $10 million in June 2022.

Despite not establishing himself in Watford, Cucho Hernández scored 20 goals in 69 appearances for Spanish second-division club Huesca.

He also had European top-flight experience in Getafe and Granada before moving to the MLS last year.

The Colombian’s European spells have refined his skills to succeed in the United States, evidenced by his G/A record for the Crews.

Cucho scored his first league Hattrick against CF Montreal on September 3.

7. Talles Magno

Talles Magno
Spurce: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $12.9 million
  • Club: New York City FC
  • Position: Winger

MLS fans may find it challenging to remember that Talles Magno is just 21 years as he has been around for a long time.

After winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Brazil and making The Guardian’s “Next Generation” in 2019, many would have expected the youngster to pen a deal with one of Europe’s top clubs.2

However, MLS’s New York City FC wasted no time in getting their man from Vasco Da Gama in 2021.

Mango helped the Eastern Conference side to win the MLS Cup in 2021 and the Campeones Cup in 2022.

He also finished the later year as CONCACAF Champions League’s Best Young Player and appeared in the Best XI.

Despite his value dropping this season due to a lackluster run of form, his worth is enough to feature among the league’s most valuable players.

6. Hany Mukhtar

Hany Mukhtar
Source: Wikimedia
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder
  • Club: Nashville SC
  • Market Value: $12.9 million

Hany Mukhtar completed a move to Nashville SC from Danish side Brøndby IF in 2019.

Being the club’s first-ever designated player, much was expected from the German.3

He went on to repay their faith in him after scoring the franchise’s first-ever hat trick against Chicago Fire FC in July 2021 and performing outstandingly every week.

Mukhar’s signing could not have been as iconic as Lionel Messi’s or David Beckham’s, but he has placed himself among the league’s best after making it to the MLS Best XI in 2021 and 2022.

He also won the MLS Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player Award in 2022 and made the MLS All-Star Team in 2022 and 2023.

5. Riqui Puig

Riqui Puig
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $12.9 million
  • Club: LA Galaxy
  • Position: Central Midfielder

Despite not succeeding at FC Barcelona as he struggled for playing time, the La Masia product’s talent is indisputable.

Puig joined LA Galaxy on a free transfer in August 2022.

However, he quickly increased his market value with a stretch of commendable performances.

Puig is tasked with playmaking, directing the game’s motion through his great attacking prowess reminiscent of Andrés Iniesta.

After averaging over 75 passes per 90 with a high completion rate, the 24-year-old featured in the MLS All-Star in July.

4. Facundo Torres

  • Market Value: $15.1 million
  • Club: Orlando City
  • Position: Winger

Following consecutive appearances in Uruguayan Primera División’s Team of the Year in 2021 and 2022, Torres completed a club-record $9 million fee from Peñarol in January 2022.4

His first season with Orlando City saw him score nine goals in 33 MLS appearances and win the U.S. Open Cup.

Such an outstanding season received more than mere praise as the 23-year-old recently put pen to paper for a new long-term deal that may see him leave for a league-record fee.

Torres was only over a year into his initial four-year contract with Orlando City.

However, he has now agreed on a long-term contract extension to raise his stock further.

With his first International goal against Cuba in June, the City man has attracted interest from Premier League side Arsenal FC, who appreciate him as a backup to their superstar Bukayo Saka.

3. Sebastián Driussi

Sebastián Driussi
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $16.1 million
  • Club: Austin FC
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

Despite being left out of the history-making Argentina squad of 2022 that won the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Driussi made it to the MLS Best XI and All-Star that year.

The 27-year-old midfielder played top-flight football in his home country, featuring for River Plate before moving to Russia.

He became a four-time Russian Premier League winner with Zenit Saint Petersburg, adding one Russian Cup and two Russian Super Cups to the trophy tally.

Driussi’s European spell might not ring a bell as some players who have featured in the continent and the MLS.

Nevertheless, he will be remembered on the club level as the first Austin FC player to hit double figures in goals for the club.

Sebastián Driussi recently agreed a new 3-year contract with Austin FC, keeping him at Q2 until 2025 with an option to stay until 2026.

2. Thiago Almada

Thiago Almada
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $29.1 million
  • Club: Atlanta United
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

Stocks soared when the 22-year-old became the first active MLS player to win a World Cup, replacing injured Joaquín Correa only five days before Argentina’s first game against Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, Almada’s previous performances were enough to price him highly.

He scored 15 goals in 42 matches from the middle of the park in Argentina’s Primera División under Mauricio Pellegrino in Vélez Sarsfield.

Thiago Almada was also named the MLS Newcomer of the Year and appeared in the MLS All-Star in 2023 to justify his $29.1 million market value.

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
Source: Wikimedia
  • Market Value: $37.7 million
  • Club: Inter Miami
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

$37.7 million is measly to price away the man who made many fall in love with the beautiful game.

Lionel Messi’s transfer will go down in history as the most iconic MLS transfer, surpassing David Beckham’s in 2007.

Soccer’s greatest player of all time brought his arsenal of skills and wealth of experience to the MLS, immediately reversing Inter Miami’s misfortune since his debut.

Following a 20-year European spell that saw him win 42 trophies, the Argentine announced his presence in the MLS with nine goals in his first six games, including a goal in the Leagues Cup final against Nashville SC.

Messi handed Inter Miami their first-ever trophy within a month in unfamiliar territory.5

His arrival not only did wonders to the performance of Inter Miami but also gave strength a bit of credence to the Premier League vs. MLS conversation.

Messi, 36, is MLS’s most valuable player with a two-and-a-half-year contract, which he signed only in July.

Wrap Up

As the MLS continues to attract more talents and established players, the list of the most valuable MLS players fluctuates as new prospects emerge and existing players continue to excel or experience instabilities in form.

References & Notes

Facts Sources:
  1. EXCLUSIVE: David Beckham transfer to LA Galaxy “defined MLS history” and transform US soccer. The Mirror
  2. Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football. The Guardian
  3. Mukhtar honoured to be Nashville’s first ever designated player. Goal
  4. MLS wonderkid snubs transfer interest with record-breaking new Orlando City contract. The Mirror
  5. Inter Miami defeats Nashville: Messi wins Leagues Cup after penalty shootout. USA Today

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