Transfer Window 2017: If everyone is expensive, is anyone expensive?

In an era of crazy hairstyles and crazier fees, it's much harder to view transfers as good or bad purely on their price.

Transfer Window 2017: If everyone is expensive, is anyone expensive?
Money, Money, Money. It takes a lot of £20's to get a Premier League footballer. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES / CARL DE SOUZA)

As the transfer window officially opened on July 1, familiar screams came from around the footballing world regarding transfer fees.

Look at the replies of any tweet, confirming a transfer, and you'll see a plethora of "too much money", "overrated and expensive" or "how much?!" kind of tweets. 

Thinking about football in the most simplistic way possible, everyone is overpriced. All the above claims are valid. When you pay, on average, £20 to fuel your car for a few days, how come millions of pounds are spent on a human being using some leg muscles to kick a ball?

Football is obviously a little more complex.

Still, fans - in general - do feel that transfer prices in the game are going above and beyond what many expected them to ever do. Paul Pogba moved to Manchester United for a world record breaking £89,000,000 last year. The wait for a £100million footballer seems to be one that won't last long.

Perhaps it's not the amount of money being spent that causes uproar, but the way it is spent, with many fans seeing players as overpriced. 

"How much!"

Take Jordan Pickford, for example. The young goalkeeper was transferred from relegated Sunderland to Everton, a team that have finished in the top four once this century, for a deal that could reach £30million pounds.

When fans look at what £30M has bought you in previous years, such as Manchester City's purchase of Sergio Aguero in 2012, it looks staggering.

However, football is a live organism, ever-changing. Inflation is the buzz-word here, player values are ever-changing.

Continuing to use Pickford as an example, perhaps it's better to look at young goalkeepers. Craig Gordon was a hot Scottish prospect when Sunderland spent £9M on him in 2007.

Five years later, Manchester United swooped to buy David de Gea for double that, £18M. Jump forward another five years and you get Pickford at 30M. 

All were/are young goalkeeper's touted to be one of the best in the world in the future. Gordon didn't turn out to be, De Gea is, Pickford could be. 

If Everton get 10 years out of Pickford and progress as a club with him as their no.1, they've done well despite a huge fee. Similarly if, apologies to Toffees supporters, they flip him for a profit in a few years time.

Find a player to improve you, then look at price

After Joel Robles' comical performance in the Merseyside Derby last season, it's not hard to find evidence that Pickford is an upgrade for Ronald Koeman's side. 

Therefore, it's fair to suggest that the real argument by footballing fans is that club's have such riches, but aren't using it correctly. 

When Liverpool spent £30M on Sadio Mane last summer, many scoffed at the price (and another purchase from Southampton), only to be proved wrong as the Senegalese winger proved to be an inspired buy from Jürgen Klopp. A year on, Mane is worth double that. Reds fans will be hoping they can say the same this time next year about Mohamed Salah, signed recently from Roma.

The point being, in a time of huge prize money and astronomical television deals, any signing that improves a football team may well be worth the money. Just ask United fans about Pogba, Liverpool fans about Mane or Everton fans about Pickford.

Of course, spending such money in a bid to improve can be a risk that backfires. Tottenham Hotspur were left faced after their £30M purchase of Moussa Sissoko, who they clearly spent too much money on after a terrible season. However, did Spurs spend too much money, or was spending any money on Sissoko the problem? The transfer was a bad one, regardless of the price. 

Poor transfers have been made for years. However, it's all in relation to price of the market. Andriy Shevchenko was a £30M flop in 2006 as Chelsea bought him, scoring just nine goals in 48 games. Looking back, it's seen as a gamble that didn't pay off. Were a striker bought for £100M today and delivered a similar return, it would be mocked much more. 

Is the gap widening?

The rising TV deals and demand for instant success has only made football prices continue to grow, with many suggesting that the gap between the rich and the poor in the Premier League is becoming too big to make success like Leicester's anything other than a miracle.

So, we did some delving into the statistics. 

Although the sample size isn't large, it does tell a story that might not be the one many suggest. 

In the 2016-17 season, the teams that finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City) spent a total sum of £346M the summer before. Those that were relegated (Sunderland, Hull City, Middlesbrough), spent a total £80M in the same time-frame.

Going back 10 years, to the 2006-07 season, the top three were Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. They spent £100M combined the summer before, whilst the relegated trio of Sheffield United, Charlton Athletic and Watford had splurged £30M.

In 2016-17, the bottom three spent 23.1% of what the top three spent. 10 years prior, they spent 30% of what the top three did. Is the gap really shifting?

Another way to view transfers

Nowadays, with Bosman deals becoming less frequent thanks to nine-year-deals and the like (hello, Saul Niguez), club's are spending similar amounts of money relative to each other than they did years ago, but with much higher figures.

With the amount of television money, sponsorship money and prize money now on offer, surely any signing that helps a club reach their goals is a good one, regardless of price.

If Crystal Palace do pay £30M for Mamadou Sakho this summer, a high price for a player that has essentially been thrown out as scrap by his club, many would suggest that they could have found a better deal. However, if he helps keep them in the Premier League - and all the riches that come with that - he'll have paid back his price-tag easily.

If Liverpool do manage to complete a club-record deal for Naby Keita, critics will suggest that they've paid an extortionate fee for a player who had had one season in a 'top five' league. But if Keita's talents help the Reds into the Champions League once more, the decision will be a good one.

Chelsea are set to test Everton's resistance for Romelu Lukaku, with a world record deal being muted in some corners. Of course, Lukaku may not be 'worth it', as fans would put it. However - you guessed it - his fee would be quickly forgotten were the Belgian to fire Chelsea to another title win.

In the modern age of transfer fee's reaching ten's of millions without anyone batting an eyelid, it's very easy to criticise nearly ever transfer. 

However, at this time in football's history, it may well be wiser for fans to wait and see before they tweet, facebook or scream from the stands about a player. 

Because however costly a player is now, the costs are only going to get higher. 

 


Share on Facebook