As per usual, at the start of the Premier League season I think about junior economists (and junior economists at heart) by calculating the range of prices fans pay to get a footballer’s surname printed on the back of their shirt.
Over the years, we’ve seen different players hold top spot as the most expensive name to have printed. For the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 season Jussi Jääskeläinen’ claimed top spot. The West Ham United stopper was the most expensive player due to the diaereses above his name. In 2015/2016 Bastian ‘Schweinsteiger-31', at 14 letters and double digits topped the list. Last season another Manchester United player was most expensive - Cameron ‘Borthwick-Jackson–43'.
Once again, we apply the same cost structure to all names - £4 per number and £1 per letter. All hyphens, accents etc. are considered letters. For simplicity I'm assuming that the shirt is a fixed cost but that the name is a variable one. The players are sourced from the Official Premier League website and only first team players are considered (i.e. they must have a squad number according to the Premier League).
Liverpool’s Trent ‘Alexander-Arnold – 66’ tops the list for the 2017/2018 season coming at £24. The joint second most expensive are also all double-barrelled surnames: ‘Calvert-Lewin-29’ (Everton), ‘Choupo-Moting-10’ (Stoke) and ‘Walker-Peters-37’ (Tottenham) would all come in at £21.
If we overlooked double-barrelled surnames, West Ham’s attacking midfielder Sead ‘Hakšabanović-23’ comes out on top at £22.
All of these names are still somewhat off Jan 'Vennegoor of Hesslink-29' (Hull), who remains the most expensive in Premier League history.
In terms of a giveaway, while 3 lettered names such as Emre ‘Can’ and Jordan ‘Ibe’ have double digit squad numbers, you could pick up Tottenham’s ‘Son – 7' for approximately £7 or Burnley’s Ben ‘Mee – 6'. Both players are on the list of Premier League bargains along with former players such as Ruel 'Fox-7', Rob 'Lee-7', and David 'May-4'.
There’s some other material on this website that might be useful when thinking about using concepts from sport to introduce children to economic ideas. Previously, I’ve written about sticker collecting here. The book, Johnny's Decisions: Economics for Kids: Tradeoffs by Jeff Felardo might be another useful resource.