With Paris Saint-Germain having completed an astounding £200 million move for Brazilian superstar forward Neymar, more than doubling the amount spent by Manchester United on Paul Pogba last summer, it would be fair to say there is little else that could shock us in the transfer market.
The world-record transfer fees paid for footballers in recent years seem to follow an exponential growth pattern, and it is evidently difficult to gauge when, or if, such growth will cease to be sustainable.
With increased television rights royalties bringing new wealth to clubs across Europe’s top leagues, the inflation bubble is a problem that transcends specific clubs, or even countries.
UEFA’s FFP constraints?
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have generally been considered inept in recent years, failing to deal with the astronomical fees being paid for players in European football.
Broadly, the FFP rules dictate that clubs cannot incur more than a €30 million deficit over the course of three years. Other intricacies apply too, yet these are the loopholes that continue to be exploited by resource-rich clubs.
PSG, for example, could repay the £200 million fee for Neymar over the duration of his contract, an option which makes such deals feasible for a club of their nature.
However, the FFP rules have only lead to smaller clubs having to operate more carefully. Attempting to avoid heavy penalties for overdoing their expenditure, I would argue that there is less room than before for certain clubs to compete in the transfer market.
The consequences of Neymar’s move are inevitably going to be felt by all. While Neymar is undoubtedly an exceptional talent, the £200 million fee is quite the contentious issue.
Answering a direct question on the topic raised by Dublin’s 98FM in the Aviva Stadium following his team’s recent friendly match against Sampdoria, Manchester United boss José Mourinho responded, “When we pay that amount for Paul (Pogba), I am told that he was not expensive. Expensive, are the ones that get into a certain level without a certain quality. I think with Neymar, it’s going to happen the same. I don’t think he’s expensive, for 200 million I don’t think he’s expensive.”
Mourinho added, “I think now you are going to have more players of 100 million, and you are going to have more players of 80 million, and more players of 60 million, and I think that’s the problem.”
The aforementioned problem has already manifested itself in the Premier League, with Everton looking to poach playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea for an eye-catching £50 million price.
Sigurdsson would be a valuable addition to Everton’s already impressive transfer dealings this summer, however, would a player of his ilk really have been worth so much even five years ago? No chance.
There is a real danger for Premier League Clubs who are attempting to compete in this rat race, as highlighted by a recent report from financial analysts Vysyble, finding that Premier League clubs are losing, on average, £876,700 daily. It may not be too long before one of these clubs outdo themselves, and enter liquidation.
Has the transfer market lost all ethics?
One of the more depressing sagas of the transfer window this summer, has been the dismantling of the AS Monaco team, full of young talent, and reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season.
Having already sold many promising stars for big money, Kylian Mbappé looks set to become the latest in a long list to depart the club this summer for pastures new. Should Mbappé join the list, Monaco will recoup somewhere in the region of £300 million this summer alone.
While funds are aplenty for new recruitment, it would be difficult to obtain a fresh set of players that share the same chemistry as the previous batch.
I think there is a real need for the reinstatement of a code of ethics in the transfer market. Managers such as Arsène Wenger have received chronic criticism from fans over the years, unwilling to loosen the purse strings to the same extent as other clubs.
Wenger, himself a staunch critic of many clubs’ transfer dealings, should be commended for seeking to operate within a more financially rational sphere.
It is, after all, refreshing to see some that are willing to consider the long-term sustainability of professional football. Maybe others should follow suit?
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