Living In A Crazy Football World Where 100 Million Transfer Fees Are Run-Of-The-Mill
‘Money*, get away
Get a good job with more pay and you’re OK’
A 26-year old Frenchman joins Arsenal for £52 million and change. A 30-year old Argentinian renews his contract with the only club he’s ever really known, Barcelona, at an annual salary of £26 million per year, and a buy-out clause that’s in excess of £225 million. And the transfer fee being bandied about for an 18-year old wunderkid, who has only played one full season for Monaco, is over £120 million. £120 million! There was a time not so long ago that one could buy a football club for that price. Is this the real life or is this just Monopoly…
‘Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash’
Numbers in the millions are thrown around like what a farmer does when sowing his fields. And in the case of some clubs – as history has shown us often enough – agreeing to the asking price of selling clubs is like sowing the seeds for future disaster, especially if the ‘investment’ (and I use the word advisedly) made in a player turns out to be a dud. Money down the proverbial drain.
‘Money, get back
I’m alright Jack, keep your hands off my stack’
Just like India is the bedrock on which cricket earns its bucks, the Premier League in England is its footballing equivalent, particularly when it comes to broadcast fees. I, for one, am always left astonished how TV companies throw money at both these sports. A bit like throwing confetti at a wedding! But of course, brighter and more knowledgeable folk than me in both clubs and media companies crunch the numbers and justify the investments.
Two big differences exist between the sports. In football, buying clubs transfer much needed cash to selling clubs. The major benefit is that it levels the playing field to some extent, even if only financially. The bigger conundrum is if that money is transferred outside the buying club’s own league. That money is ‘lost’, and in spite of the ever-increasing fees being paid for broadcast rights – particularly in England – the EPL almost always has a net outflow to other leagues and countries. This works to the detriment of developing talent in their own country in the mad dash for immediate success.
So in football, the clubs gamble on the expectation of an ever-increasing future share of broadcast rights. As has been said often enough, to stand still in this game is to fall behind. So the footballing Pied Piper plays his tune, and all follow. The only unknown? When and where will they arrive at the precipice.
‘Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit’
Has the footballing world gone crazy? Yes and no! Some will argue it’s a sign of the times. Others baulk at inflated transfer fees for good, but not world-class players and hark back to a time when life was simpler. While it’s futile comparing across generations, to think that less than 15 years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson paid £12 million for a phenom from Portugal called Cristiano Ronaldo.
‘Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie’
To come back to the initial point made, Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe is apparently worth upwards of £120 million. Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were allegedly in the running for his signature. After Arsenal’s capture of Alexandre Lacazette, that’s one fewer club in the mix. The price tag seems to be putting PSG off, leaving the way clear for Real Madrid to make another big money signing, perhaps at a more realistic number.
As it is, Monaco’s team of last year has had its heart already ripped out. So while flush with the cash from player sales, they are a ‘poorer’ team, even if Mbappe stays for another season.
‘Money, so they say
It’s the root of all evil today’
Of course, Real Madrid will be very pleased with developments. They’ve been chasing Mbappe since he was a boy, and in him, they have a readymade replacement for the ageing, but still effective Karim Banzema in the No. 9 role. If Mbappe joins Real, one expects Benzema to look for pastures new. Crucially, Mbappe is himself keen to join Real, though he’d prefer to do so in a couple of years’ time. So for Arsenal, or any other club to pay an astronomical sum for him, knowing he’s likely to ask for a move to Madrid when in his early 20s, really doesn’t make sense. And I, for one, am glad that Wenger looked elsewhere. That money ‘saved’ can be used to build a stronger and more long-lasting base in players who will look to stay for longer than 2-3 years.
The major headache for Real Madrid will be to come up with a new monicker for a forward line that could consist of CR7, Gareth Bale and Mbappe. BBC (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) has a nice ring to it. KBC or BKC/BMC (perhaps?) will only mean something in India. And other abbreviations just won’t do justice.
* ‘Money’ written by Roger Waters from the album ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’