Honestly, What’s Going on with Football’s Transfer Evaluations?

For the past few weeks, Have Hope and I have debated the nature of football’s transfer evaluations.

I think we’ve come to the conclusion the game has lost its collective mind.

Maybe one case of egregious overspending could be explained away as an overeager club pushing the boundaries of common sense, but the repetitive, copious nature we are currently witnessing (and have witnessed) speaks of a larger — more systemic — problem.

Juventus paying Napoli €90/£75.3 million, via BBC Sport, for Gonzalo Higuain’s services being the primary example in our discussions.

I can’t speak for Have Hope but, if I had to guess, he probably thinks along the same lines: I’m having an inner conflict. On one hand, I feel if a club has the money to spend, and it makes fiscal sense (no matter how large the transfer figure), then who am I to refute or besmirch them purchasing any footballer at any price?

I’m just a curmudgeonly football writer who knows next to nothing about the inner-workings of economic structures. I got an English degree at university, not an MBA. That said, using the common sense scale — something we should all start using more — knowing when a fee is (or isn’t) commensurate with a player’s age, talent and position isn’t that difficult.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

In a way I’m caught between my wish to give people freedom, and the intuition that tells me allowing such freedom can only cause trouble or — in this case — a march towards a football landscape so unrecognisable, I can’t conjure an example.

Fifteen years ago, £47 million could by a then 28-year-old Zinedine Zidane.

Converting 2001 money to 2016 money, £47 million is roughly £71 million (if this online inflation calculator I’m using is accurate). That makes Higuain £4 million more expensive than (the word “arguably” should go here) the greatest midfielder football/Earth has ever produced.

Something is wrong with that picture. Infinitely wrong.

Then when you consider Juventus could be receiving upwards of £100 million for Paul Pogba (23) from Manchester United — a club who allowed the prodigious midfield talent to leave Old Trafford for free five years ago — it further boggles the mind.

Don’t even start me thinking Pogba, even after an inflation adjustment, is worth £30 million more than Zidane. I might lose it.

Where this process evolves will be interesting to monitor over the coming seasons. More money is being pumped into football’s infrastructure by the passing television deal, and when would-be lesser clubs have the economic wherewithal to spend £30 million on a single player, it only ups the ante for the understood superpowers to flex their considerable muscle even more strenuously.

I can’t and won’t pretend the game was ever about love, it was always (and will continue to be) about money. It’s just in 2016, that fact seems more blatant than ever.

See you guys next week,


Listen to this week’s Talking Tactics: E06 | #ShirtNumbersMatter and Lionel Messi’s Transformation