The last time Miles Robinson and George Bello played for Atlanta United, Gabriel Heinze was still the manager.
Feel old yet?
While the team has struggled in the results department since seeing some of their most talented players leave the squad for international duty weeks ago, the performance of one Miles Robinson in the 2021 Gold Cup perhaps salvages what has been a rough period for the club in the league.
Robinson’s goal in Sunday night’s Gold Cup final against the United State’s rivals Mexico marked just another chapter in what has been a stellar rise for Robinson since his professional career began in 2017. The Syracuse and Boston Bolts product has gone from MLS hopeful his rookie year, to sporadic first teamer in 2018, to MLS Best XI in 2019, to the near top of the US Men’s National Team center back depth chart after his recent showing on the international stage.
All of this asks the question as to when he will eventually leave Atlanta United to play at a more elite level in Europe. But that question will ultimately be answered by knowing how much he’s now valued on the transfer market after such a display in front of a national audience.
What makes Robinson’s theoretical value an interesting topic for debate is that there isn’t a past transaction that would help set a marker. After being drafted by Atlanta United out of the college ranks, there’s never been a financial benchmark set in Robinson’s career. But the level of his play — and where that level will take him in his career as potentially a regular starter in next year’s 2022 World Cup — means Atlanta United will surely value his transfer fee at a very steep price. As they should.
How much is an American best XI player worth in Europe on branding and marketing alone? Certainly quite a bit. And apologies if that question sounds like putting the cart before the horse, but it’s only because myself and all Atlanta United fans are surely convinced he’s an elite player that would be well capable of jumping to a team in the Premier League, Bundesliga, or elsewhere and performing with the same combination of composure, strength, and humility we’ve witnessed since his breakout under Frank de Boer in 2019.
So let’s go back to the question proposed (and I hope can be a lively discussion in the comments): What is Robinson’s value? Or, to maybe be more specific: If you’re Darren Eales, what’s the number you’re hoping to get?
Coming into the season, I’d tabbed Robinson’s value at $10 million. Honestly, the main reason I probably landed on it is because it’s a nice and round number. The more I think about the situation, particularly with the way Robinson’s performance in the Gold Cup final really broke through in a way we haven’t seen before, I think the price has to be much higher. Like, maybe double the amount I’d previously thought.
The other top U.S. center back, John Brooks, made a $18.7 million move from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg at a similar age to Robinson, 24, in 2017. At that time, Brooks had broken through for the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup and was looking likely to start for the team yet again in 2018 (cue sad trombone).
But in the wake of COVID-19, the market has changed in terms of what certain teams are able to spend. To get a better sense fo what the landscape looks like now, here are the top fees paid for CBs during the current summer transfer window:
Notice the age range of these players, which just goes to show that even at a relatively young age of 24, Robinson’s age is on the high end of this group.
What do you think?