Transfer Market Madness

For those of you who don’t follow European soccer, this first paragraph is going to be a brief explanation of the absolute chaos that is European soccer’s summer transfer window. Imagine a system where the only salary cap is how much money ownership is willing to spend and players are bought instead of being traded. This is how soccer works in every league across Europe. If you are interested, a more in-depth explanation describing how transfers work can be found here.

Since the turn of the century, the amount of money spent in the transfer market has increased rapidly — especially over the past five years. This rampant spending is most prevalent in the English Premier League. The Premier League’s brand new television deal has given its 20 clubs a massive £8.3 billion ($10.9 billion) windfall to split. While this is fantastic news for the Premier League, it has the potential to be disastrous for the rest of Europe. This season, even the team that finishes last in the Premier League is projected to receive nearly £100 million ($130.8 million) of extra income from the television deal. With this money, even middling Premier League teams will be able to outspend almost any other team in Europe — excluding super clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

What does this mean for the rest of Europe? It means that English clubs will be able to poach the best players from teams across the continent by enticing players with wages their clubs can’t match and transfer fees these smaller clubs simply can’t refuse. It also means that England’s elite clubs — Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool — should be capable of buying nearly any player they want.

Paul Pogba, currently the world’s most expensive player.

This summer has marked a change in the transfer market and the world of soccer. When Manchester United paid Juventus £89 million ($116.4 million) for French midfielder Paul Pogba, it was the first time in 20 years that an English club bought the most expensive player in the world. Even though the Premier League’s best players will still leave for teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, Pogba’s signing signaled that it is no longer a one-way street.

It will be incredibly interesting to see how everything plays out both this season and the seasons beyond. The increased money in England should eventually lead to more parity in the Premier League. Historically less competitive teams will be able to buy players who wouldn’t have given such teams the time of day in the past. However, this will happen at the expense of parity in the German, Spanish, Italian and French leagues. As the lesser teams in these leagues can no longer afford to keep their best players, the aforementioned super clubs will rise even further out of sight.

Sources of information:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/07/30/sports/30iht-soccer.t_3.html

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