With the transfer window slamming shut just a few days ago I decided it was as good a time as any to give my opinion on the transfer window, and more specifically, the extreme rise of player prices over the past few windows and what effect I see this having on clubs in the future.
For the second successive summer the world record transfer fee has been broken, and that is the true sign of the times. Player prices are rising at exponential rates. And I am not here to pretend as if rising player prices is a new thing, however, the rate at which these prices are going up is something that we haven’t seen before. Neymar was sold to PSG for 222 Million Euros. That, simply put, is absurd. That is a crazy amount of money considering just 10 years ago the most expensive player was Zinedine Zidane for 75 Million Euros. Going based off of those two figures that means over the past 10 years the average increase in player prices is just under 15 million euros per year. However, in the summer of 2016 Paul Pogba was bought for 105 Million Euros. That means that in one summer, the rate of most expensive player went up by over 100% and 115 Million Euros. I understand that is far from science and really isn’t the best way to make an argument, but it is indicative of how the transfer market is acting at the moment. Just a few seasons ago a good player would cost you anywhere from 20-60 Million euros, depending on how ‘good’ they were. But now we are seeing these same players requiring upwards of 100 million by their clubs to be let go. The prime example of this is Coutinho and that transfer saga of the summer. Countinho is a great player, world-class depending on if you ask Liverpool fans or Brazilians. However the fact that Liverpool were asking for a supposed 200 Million Euros for him is a farce. There is no way Coutinho is worth that much money, however with the state of the current transfer market, that is what it will take to buy him. Players are no longer being bought for the amount of money their skill as a player is worth, it is more about how much that player is worth to their club. And being one of the star players in a team, especially one in the hunt for trophies, it is going to take a lot of money for that club to let him go. I think that this is not a good sign for where the sport is headed in this regard, and I think that there is a possibility to be discussed of what clubs may do to counteract this, or if these crazy prices will just continue to soar.
I believe that with these insane prices and the decreasing will clubs have to sell their players, that we will hit a peak and after that peak start to see less and less transfers every summer. That is because a few years ago a team could sell one of their players, and then proceed to buy an adequate replacement, for a similar amount of money. For example, Tottenham. When they sold Gareth Bale they bought 7 different players with that new cash. However one of the problems they faced was that since everyone knew they had all that Gareth Bale money, they made them overpay when buying their players. Some of the players Tottenham signed such as Erik Lamela and Vlad Chiriches seemed a bit overpriced, especially when the ever-shrewd Daniel Levy was negotiating. But this problem, has increased drastically too. As seen by the Coutinho saga. Liverpool know the Barcelona have plenty of money to spend, so they are telling them there is no reason you can’t pay this much if you really want him. That is a huge problem for Barcelona. But let’s say that they decide to go for it and do pay the asking amount. Liverpool will then face the same problem. Maybe they try to replace to replace him with Aubameyang. Dortmund will know that they just cashed in and can tell them to pay up 200 Million as well. This is a problem that will continue to spread unless clubs do something about it. The main way I could see this being counteracted is if clubs just focus less on selling and buying players, and more o producing them. Instead of Barcelona going out and getting Coutinho for 200 Million, they look for a youngster to bring into the fold. It may not yield instant results, but in the long run this approach may really pay off. Teams who already focus on their youth may start to benefit from this sort of market. Ajax, Southampton, Monaco, and Dortmund all already have this sort of ideal and maybe as more teams become more reluctant to buy and sell players this model will become the norm. It has many positives to it as well. It is much more cost efficient to develop a youth player than it is to buy a player in their prime. The future cost benefit is there as well, if the club do eventually want to sell the player the profit will be much higher. Some believe, maybe myself included, that young players coming through the clubs youth ranks are more hungry for success and will play harder for the club. And also fans love to see players come from the academy and do well. They love to see ‘one of their own’ out their representing the fan base. Will clubs will see the situation similarly and try to start developing their own youth to counteract the huge issue in the transfer market at the moment? We will just have to wait and see.
The transfer market is at an all time high right now in terms of player prices. Maybe this trend will continue and nothing much will happen to stop it. That may just be the way the economics of the game are headed right now. But maybe teams will get frustrated of the constant struggle of dealing with these immense prices and look for other alternatives. And no matter what your opinion o all this transfer nonsense, I think we can all agree on one thing. We love football!