Lucas Moura Transfer to Paris Saint-Germain Underscores How Soccer Spending Is Unsustainable

As a staunch Manchester United fan, I have waited with bated breath for the best part of a fortnight awaiting news that Lucas Moura, the latest teenage sensation from Brazil, has finally signed for the club and has announced his desire to wrest back the title from Manchester City. Imagine, then, my utter dismay of reading that Paris Saint-Germain have gazumped United in the bidding war and have agreed a transfer fee with Sao Paulo for the wonderkid.

On paper, it seems like a no-brainer for Lucas. On the one hand, there is Manchester United; perhaps the biggest football club in the world with a fierce tradition and strong European credentials who play in the strongest league in Europe. Then there is PSG, runners-up in the weak French league to Montpellier, fourth seeds in the latest edition of the Champions League and a history that stretches all the way back to 1970. The chasm between the two clubs on the pitch could hardly be bigger.

Now let’s talk figures. A controlling stake of PSG was brought by the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) in 2011. The QIA is Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which essentially means that everything the state earns is invested into this fund. Therefore, PSG’s owners have the potential to pump £100 billion annually into the club. This means that PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti can sign effectively any player that is willing to move to Paris, play in an under par league and be paid mammoth wages in return. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva have already agreed to do just that this summer. They join the likes of Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta amongst a pool of talent worth €200m.

Manchester United are at the other end of the financial spectrum. Financially, they are in dire straits. They are owned by the notorious Glazer family who seized control of the club in a leveraged takeover in 2005. Depending on what figures you trust, the Glazers have taken nearly £800m out of the club since 2005 and have saddled them with debts that currently stand at £420m. The highlight of the summer for the fans of Manchester United was not the unveiling of a marquee, multi-million pound signing, but the announcement that the club were to float on the New York Stock Exchange in order to raise funds to pay off the debts. Under the Glazers, the transfer strategy has changed dramatically. United used to dominate English football with big-money signings. Nowadays, young and talented players are recruited with the aim of selling them on in the future for a tidy profit. The likes of Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Nani are testament to this. United can however pay out when they want. Shinji Kagawa moved to Old Trafford for £17m last month, for example, but they simply cannot compete with the oil rich juggernauts of PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea.

With Lucas Moura moving to Paris, he will no doubt be earning wages that match his large fee. At 19, his potential is considered to be massive. He has represented Brazil 15 times already at such a tender age, and some consider him to be a better prospect than Brazil’s young darling Neymar.

The Moura deal just goes to highlight the importance money possesses in today’s modern footballing world. Just over a decade ago, Roy Keane shocked English football fans by demanding £52,000 a week to stay at United. In comparison, Danny Welbeck had a solid debut season last year, and was rewarded with a deal worth nearly £50,000 a week. One final comparison: Zinedine Zidane smashed the world transfer record in 2001 when he moved to Real Madrid from Juventus for about £45m. Zidane is considered the best player of his generation, and one of the all-time footballing greats. Today, that fee would probably get you a decent centre midfielder who is on the back of an encouraging debut season, or a goalscorer in a mid-level league who banged in a mighty 20 goals last year. One thing is for sure, Lucas Moura is under immense pressure to succeed when he moves to PSG. Should he be the next Denilson, however, then the €45m fee would merely be a drop in the ocean for the clubs wealthy owners. Or should that be a drop of oil?

The future of soccer is unsustainable. You know its morals are wrong when you watch Samuel Eto’o, a multiple Champions League winner and one of Europe’s most deadliest strikers, move to the war torn region of Dagestan to play for FC Anzhi Makhachkala for wages of £350,000 a week. Closer to home, Wayne Bridge, a one-time England international, cannot even make it to the Manchester City bench yet he takes home a reported £90,000 a week. Over the last two seasons, he has amassed twenty-three league games for West Ham and Sunderland, and in the process he has earned £8.6 million. Something has to change, and fast.

34 thoughts on “Lucas Moura Transfer to Paris Saint-Germain Underscores How Soccer Spending Is Unsustainable”

  1. yes, something has to be done, but the finanical rules we can all but forgett. there is no way fifa,uefa, will cut out barca, city,chelsea, real m, and all other big clubs that dont go around finacially. if they did, the sponsor money, and tv money would drop like hell. so it is in their best intrest to have them around CL. and by the looks of it there are nobody that takes it seriously. chelsea is spending on players, they have gone in minus the last 5-10years? i just pray that spurs get bought up, so we can compete with the money horses. because if not, city,chelsea, and the other money bags will dominate for years to come.

  2. From what i’ve read it was utd who backed out of the deal because of the agents demands of close to six million pound. Six million pound to do nothing more than make a deal for the players wages. Just like the Hazard deal Utd and City refused to be ripped off and while it sucks to miss out on a top prospect we will simply move on to another target.

  3. Ici, C’est Paris!
    Ici, C’est Paris!
    Ici, C’est Paris!

    This is actually a loot for me to say, given that I do love FCGB and Ligue 1 second only to City and the EPL.

    But I am kind of starting to warm to PSG a bit IF ONLY because outlets such as Le Monde are taking the same shots at PSG as people around the EPL have been at Chelsea and City.

  4. This article is terrible. What is unsustainable? Clearly they are trying to build a good team at PSG and do it quickly. Just because Lucas goes for 45M doesn’t mean Everton can’t finish in the top half of the EPL with no money, which they have proven pretty good at.

  5. I find it funny that Man U fans are starting to complain and moan about transfer prices when only a few years ago they were blowing all teams out of the water with $31M for Berbatov, $30M for Rio, $28M for Veron, $27M for Rooney, etc.. And Rio and Veron were over 10 years ago…Those prices 10 years ago were outrageous.

    I don’t remember them complaining about large transfers when they were getting the top players by simply outspending every other team out there. Now that there is competition from Chelsea, PSG, City, etc, all of sudden its a problem.

  6. Totally agree with Joey that Manchester United splashed the cash long before most other teams. Why was it OK then but not OK now? Seems like sour grapes to me.

    1. As a Man Utd supporter even I have to agree with Mike and Joey on how this article read.

      To be honest it does read like a supporter is upset because the team didn’t have their way in the transfer market and in order to justify that complain about other teams taking away players that the team targets.

      Now if you want to make an objective argument out of it, one could discuss if Fair Play rules would help or hinder getting transfer targets at their proper value vs overpaying for players who wind up being busts.

      How many players over the years coming to Man Utd (and the EPL) got paid for far more than they were worth?

      There is more than enough evidence that shows sometimes spending tons of money on players doesn’t always equal titles no matter what sport you are referencing.

      1. Other than bebe our homeless wonder kid I can’t think of many utd players who have been overpaid. We have never needed to pay inflated wages to attract top players.

        We have had players who we paid top money for like Veron and berbatov who havnt worked out but they were never paid wages that could be classed inflated. Veron was one of the best midfield players in the world when we got him from lazio and he was paid accordingly. We have also had some very average players like DJ2, kleberson and miller but they were never on the so called “big money”.

        Andy Carroll is perfect example of a inflated transfer fee and salary. 35m and 80k a week if the papers are to believed is inflated any way you look at it. So yeah Utd has always paid top money for transfers and salary but the times we have paid inflated salarys are extremley rare.

        1. Here are some Manchester United players who cost a lot of money that failed:

          Jose Kleberson, Diego Forlan and Juan Sebastian Veron — just to name a few.

          The Gaffer

          1. Like said gaffer we have paid big money for top players who didn’t live up to the hype like veron but at the time we didn’t pay some stupid money for a player who had done NOTHING in football he was one of the best midfielders in the world at the time so the 29m we paid isn’t that far off the mark.

            Can’t remember what we paid for kleberson but I bet he was getting a wage that was on par with his standing in the game not some stupid money just to convince him to join us.

        2. You or ‘we’ don’t have the slightest idea what any of these players wages are, all there is is speculation and nothing more. The same goes for what has been paid, near enough every buy is now undisclosed leaving the media to give a price they think appropriate and some people just take it as fact.

          1. ‘we didn’t pay some stupid money for a player who had done NOTHING in football’

            Really? How do you explain an estimated £22m for Anderson then?

  7. If a club’s transfer policy is unsustainable it will provce itself so like Leeds United a few years ago and Malaga right now. I don’t see a need to flip out because the guy you wanted went to another club with deep pockets. If they have the money to spend let them spend it.

    Personally I don’t think anyone should pay 30million for a teenager who isn’t even in the first 11 on the olympic squad.

  8. welcome to the world of the gooner: earth. if he continues to get outbid and has to find, mold, and retain quality players while billionaires steal his products at their prime, we will finally see if sir alex is really a better coach than the professor.

    1. Who has been stolen from utd while in their prime?

      Ronaldo wasn’t stolen. 85 million for a player who wanted to leave for 18 months is good business. And if you think wenger is a better manager the SAF you got serious problems.

  9. You are all missing the point – this article is saying that the obsession with money in football is the root cause why this player has chosen financal gain over career success, disturbing in a player of such a young age.

    1. Jane, I wouldn’t mind a bet that PSG win a lot more than Utd over the next five years. And I’ll also bet the the wage wasn’t that much different.

  10. Have to agree with others here. This reads a little too colour-blind for my liking. I don’t think the author would bat an eyelash if it were United paying that much for the young player.

  11. I find it hilarious that people have miss read this young lads oppinion, as a staunch Liverpool fan I tend to agree with the scum fan on the basis that it no longer is about playing for a team with historical reference and is more about the Pound note you pick up, he clearly states that the manc scum have been known to dip their hands in their pockets to their advantage but that times are clearly changing… longer is it about representing a historical heritage…Liverpool, man utd, ac Milan, bayern Munich, Ajax, Celtic, juventus, benfica to name but a few but rather young average players are chasing the opportunity to earn money….as joe clearly states that Denison once a wonder kid of Brazilian football that got relegated with real betis and dropped of the face of european football as a ominous warning to young talent chasing money.

    I have zero sympathy for man utd and the glazer situation….I place it down to bad shareholders and executive greed….the wool was pulled over their eyes and the harsh reality of dawn is upon them….lits not about being a big club any more and is the new breed….similar to the the country club where lords and barons sit and smoke cigars with gangsters and celebs… talks bull shit walks, my only criticism to this article is that whether utd,liv etc else like it or not but current finances dictate that these boys are aloud to sit at the big boys table…whether their money was earned on decades of success or in sovereign wealth…money is money…

    1. Liam,

      Why do you hold such a different opinion of sports than you do of every day life? BP is a proud company with a rich tradition. Would you take half the wages to work there when a younger startup company will offer you double?

      View it from the professional’s perspective and your thoughts may differ.

    2. Liam, go back and look which clubs have paid by far the highest wages over the last 30 years and then tell us again about all these players playing for ‘a team with historical reference’. Even better see how Utd’s ‘historical reference’ was less of than that of Everton’s, Villa’s and Arsenal’s in the late 80s yet they still had the highest wage bills!

  12. “Even better see how Utd’s ‘historical reference’ was less of than that of Everton’s, Villa’s and Arsenal’s in the late 80s yet they still had the highest wage bills!”

    Hmm, well that’s lie. In the late 80’s, before Ferguson came in and dominated English football, Man Utd were still the most well known football club in England bar Liverpool. Have you forgotten the Busby Babes and the Munich air crash? That disaster made the club known the world over and the crash was responsible for thousands deciding to follow united. Then the likes of George Best and Bobby Charlton followed. You don’t need a history lesson im sure, but the short of it is that by the late 80’s, “United had significant historical reference” compared to Everton, Villa and certainly Arsenal.

    i.e Utd’s “high wage bills”: United were by definition still a big club in the 1980s. They had consistently higher attendances than Liverpool throughout the 1980s, and had the league’s highest attendance for six seasons between 1980-89. Martin Edwards was the forerunner to the owners of today’s football clubs- he was in it for the money. Utd’s revenues in the late 80’s were amongst the highest in the league so they had disposable cash. But no, they did not have the highest wage bills. Liverpool outspent them on a regular basis throughout this period, and fair play to them as they were the greatest team in the world during that decade.

  13. That must mean that Torino are also one of the biggest teams in the World as well then or had you forgotten The Superga air disaster where every player and all the coaching staff were killed after winning the league for three years on the trott! You never heard of it did you? Ignorance or is it something else? Hmmm.

    What you don’t think Villa, Everton and have legends as well, All these club had won more than Utd in the late 80’s FACT. As here most seem to see winning trophies as history these clubs had a bigger ‘historical reference’ but paid less wages than the team who paid the most right throughout the 80’s (another fact for ya!).

    ‘Utd’s revenues in the late 80′s were amongst the highest in the league so they had disposable cash.’
    How have you come to that conclusion? Because your mate told you? LOL. To go to a game of the late 80’s cost around a pound! So Utd’s average attendance from 88/89 was 36,847, so that’s 36,847 times £1 = £773,787 but I’ll give you a Million! Guess what it doesn’t even pay for even near half of what Palister cost alone never mind wages!

    Utd were in massive debt in the late 80’s they spent money they didn’t have Edwards was trying desperately to sell but nobody wanted to know with the exception of a skint nutter called Micheal Knighton is his desperation Edwards nearly let the club go to a man with out a pot to pxss in! The were mortgaged up to the hilt and had NO ‘disposable cash’. I love to know where you got this from.

    Liverpool out spent Utd when? You’ve made that up completely! In 1989 Liverpool won the league against Fergie’s expensive flops. That Liverpool team cost £6m, while Utd’s (that Finished 13th) an unprecedented £18m!!! Try reading Manchester a football history by Gary James, it may help you get out of that fantasy World that so many Utd fans seem to live in!

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