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Has The Transfer Market Really “Caught Fire”?

Was I dreaming or did I really see Sir Alex on television this week, complaining about the high prices of players in today’s transfer market? This man once helped set the standard for the ÜBER-BIG SPENDING. He would never hesitate to bring in enough top players for nearly two starting XIs worth of winners. He was always willing to go over the top to get what he wanted. (Inspiring the 2006 hit single: £18m for Michael Carrick, are you serious?) We are in trouble if it’s gotten so bad Sir Alex is upset. It’s like your severe alcoholic uncle suggesting you organize an intervention for someone else in the family. Well, my God… how bad is Aunt Sadie doing if Uncle Ted thinks she needs help?? Alarm bells galore.

And yes: Florentino Pérez is Aunt Sadie.

Pérez has pushed the roof of the market so far into the stratosphere, the £7m Sir Alex spent on Andy Cole in 1995, a record at the time, seems like bargain basement prices and even the £29m spent on Rio Ferdinand in 2002 can now barely raise an eyebrow. Pérez is out to make Roman Abramovich look like a pre-holiday Ebenezer Scrooge. He has made it clear: no price it too high, and no club debt is too deep. (I just hope he loses interest in Xabi Alonso soon. That saga is getting staler than a horny drunk following the cute waitress around the restaurant.)

Surely, when Real Madrid agreed to pay out £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo, Sir Alex had expansive plans for the new cash.  It wasn’t so long ago such a heap of funds would be good for three or four world class players. In this market, he’d be lucky to get two out of it. And, ironically, the bundle he got for his star number 7 helped cause the price hike now causing his transfer window migrane.

I hate to be caught agreeing with Sir Alex: but this market is insane.

The money one would need to shell out for a David Villa or an Ibrahimovic… it hurts my head just to think about it.

Of the English clubs, nobody outside Manchester City seems to be making big moves. I know it’s early but this transfer window seems to be lacking the usual buzz. Is everybody waiting for that perfect move? Or are they all as frustrated as Sir Alex? They must be.

It’s always been money. We’re always shocked when the prices go up. But the record-breaking amounts this time around are beyond staggering. There’s a jump in the curve. The train is about to fly off the tracks.

Hopefully, these recent moves are merely spikes in the transfer market’s heart rate. Not signs of cardiac arrest. Hopefully, the fees of Ronaldo and Kaká are brief anomolies and not signs of a new standard. I’m hoping most of the big clubs turn their backs on these ridiculous kinds of prices, and as a result the prices won’t sustain. Real and City can’t buy everybody. They don’t have room. 

Transfer fees have skyrocketed because the clubs with the best wares think United, Liverpool, Chelsea, etc are willing to pay (that or they are overpricing through the roof to hold on to their goods). If the English clubs turn to inexpensive lesser-knowns over the pricey sure bets, then perhaps the market will shift back to relative sanity in future windows.

However, if these high prices insist on kicking their stinking feet into the winter and next summer, I hope (perhaps naïvely) that the backlash will see English clubs turn more and more to their youth systems. Like a giant market reset button. Bring up the kids and give ’em a chance. You can’t afford the next Cristiano Ronaldo? The next Thierry Henry? Make one.

Well, that’s an exaggeration. But Ronaldo himself was not a sure bet when he first came to United. His world-classiness came later. The next cheap genius could be out there somewhere. The winning lottery ticket. Liverpool  just bought Chris Mavinga from PSG. United have signed Mame Biram Diouf from Molde FK. And Arsenal are always going after the young and the unknown—(well, they may have gone too young at once last season, but when this crop ripens, who knows?) Point is any of these players could blossom into the next superstar. With the proven talent getting too expensive, it may be the best time ever to give new players a chance. 

Through a combination of taking risks and developing youth, clubs could undermine the current demands of the market’s top shelf. Otherwise, if enough clubs give in to these ridiculous fees, £60m+ will soon become the new standard for the best players and Ronaldo won’t be the last to hit the £80m mark. And £100m is just around the corner…

Where will it end? (Wait… I’m really not sure I want the answer to that question.)

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  1. Gunjack

    July 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

    i thnk ethan armstrng shudn’t be allwed to write articles fr dis site……he’s too liverpool biased….turns a blind eye to evtrythn else….let him write fr da lfc site or smthn

  2. Lyle

    July 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Not really, I’d say. Sluggish is more like it.

  3. Pompey Canuck

    July 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    The problem for me isn’t the Kaka or Ronaldo transfers or the Beckham transfer of the past. They made sense in off the field gains etc. The problem is with Benzema, Bellamy, Bridge, Carrick, Barry, Bent and numerous other decent players getting transferred at big money and obscene wages. Not many players will say I am as good as Ronaldo give me the money that he got. However a lot of players will say I am better than Bellamy or Bent and look at the money that they are on. It is the overpaying for mid-level players that is what is really killing the transfer market. None of this is new, the numbers have just gone up. To hear Rafa & Fergie complain about it, I only hear “I got priced out of the player I wanted” or ” I can’t afford new players because my club is drowning in debt”. The amount of debt that some Premier League clubs are saddled with at the moment is a much larger concern for me, than the inflation of wages and transfer fees. There are a lot of things very wrong with the business side of most premier league clubs and I would like to see them addressed before some of the great clubs are in a lot of trouble.

  4. Tyson

    July 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    He’s right to complain about the way the market is going right now.

    Ronaldo sold for 80 million pounds and it is a lot of money but stop and think about this for a moment.

    How much will Ronaldo be worth to Real Madrid in merchandise for the next 6 years? How many shirts will he sell for 6 years?

    Ronaldo is extremely unlikely to be a loss for Real Madrid so it isn’t a bad investment.

    It’s not the transfer fees that are a problem though its the wages.

    Take for example Eto’o telling Manchester City to stick it when they tried to get him to sign.

    His transfer was 25 million pounds if rumours were to be believed and thats a lot of money but a few teams can afford that.

    What few teams can afford is the apparent 180K to 250K a week they were willing to pay him!

    It’s the same with John Terry. City have been throwing around figures that a few clubs in England can afford to pay when it comes to transfer fees but the wages they’re offering him are something few clubs can afford.

    Paying for footballers isn’t a big deal anymore in terms of transfer fees. So much money is involved in football nowadays getting a footballer and marketing him for 5 or 6 years can pay dividends and usually younger footballers do end up being worth more as they blossom whether they end up world class or not.

    The real issue here is the wages for some of these players are ludicrous. If you buy Eto for 25 million and pay him 250 thosuand a week on a 5 year contract its not long before the transfer fee and the wages add up to make it very difficult to get back some money on the deal you made.

    I don’t mind big transfer fees but wages are a pain.

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