The summer transfer window is well underway, and for me, the summer window is one of the most exciting things about the forthcoming season; it’s like a big two month festival. Fans gather outside their clubs’ home stadium to welcome new players in – the unveiling of a new signing to bolster the ranks is something every football fan enjoys. Every supporter wants to see their beloved club strengthen significantly, show ambition and intent as well as keeping hold of their already pivotal figures. It’s this nail biting, bone shaking “will they won’t they?” love story between player and club that keeps us as football enthusiasts on the edges of our seats.
Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate the transfer window for more than just an Only Fools and Horses style market of buying and selling, players are looking for the best deal whilst clubs are looking for the cheapest option in which to advance. I see the sense in certain clubs buying certain players and why certain players turn down one club to sign for another: it’s his boyhood club, he’s worked with the manager before and so on and so forth, the endless reasons are strangely beautiful.
However, in this world dominated by wealth and power it’s hard to ignore those other reasons players jump ship and join the rich kids right across town. Remember when leaving a club to join their sworn enemies was seen as the ultimate sign of betrayal, spitting on the code of ethics your previous club installed in you. I’m sure we’ve all seen what happened to the great Luis Figo when he left Barcelona to join their nemesis Real Madrid, nowadays it’s not seen as such an issue, it’s the classic case of “that’s football”. Remember when players would be labelled a mercenary for leaving a club to join what is seen as a club with a lower reputation because their contract had a few more commas on it, nowadays, getting £100,000 a week is a modest contract.
The point I’m trying to make is that money has a strangle hold over players, chairmen, managers and agents alike. Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed that new Chelsea signing Eden Hazard was vastly overpriced; – at £34 million the Blues’ man certainly has a lot of expectation resting on his shoulders. Manchester United where heavily linked with the player, however United refused to meet Lille’s asking price, thus, Hazard is now a blue with his agent collecting a cool six million in agent fees.
It seems that players and agents will be as ruthless as they like in order to achieve the best deal. One of the seven deadly sins always comes to light in the transfer market: greed. Wesley Sneijder’s proposed move to Manchester United last summer fell through after the player and club hit a dead end over wage demands, clubs in Russia and the Middle East are now offering jaw-dropping amounts of money to try and tempt some of the world’s best to come join them.
As with everything, football is about progression and to get the best you must pay a heavy price, having said that, a price tag is not always an accurate indication to how good the player is. Liverpool paid £35 million for a certain Andy Carroll and now he looks set to be playing his football elsewhere this season. Pressure mounts on every player with a steep price tag, suddenly the media cross-examine every aspect of their game, elation if the player comes up trumps and despair if he puts in a few rotten performances.
We’ve all seen great players fall from grace and the general consensus is the overwhelming price tag got the better of them: Andriy Shevchenko cost Chelsea £30 million in 2006, he failed to impress and was shown the door three years later with a loan spell at his former club A.C. Milan wedged in their also. Barcelona paid £40 million and Samuel Eto’o in return for the services of a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 12 months later the big Swede was on his way after an unsuccessful spell with the Catalan giants. And who could forget Juan Sebastian Veron, Sir Alex paid 28.1m for the Argentine and was sold to Chelsea just two years later at a cut price of £15 million where again he failed to show the Premiership his talents.
All these players are great footballers and have all achieved success elsewhere, but it seems that many big money players are daunted but the fact that they have cost so much yet deliver so little. Any time a player with a monstrous value is brought to our attention we expect fireworks every time they take to the pitch and in some cases we get something similar to a sparkler on Bonfire Night, shines for a little while before they fade and are eventually thrown away.
This transfer window promises much of the same with sought after players such as Luka Modric and Robin Van Persie under the radar of some of Europe’s biggest and wealthiest clubs and with the spending already beginning to gather momentum we’ll all be keeping a watchful eye over all the dealings and seeing which players flop and which players light up our television screens with sublime skill, masterful defending, great goalkeeping and tremendous goals for years to come.