Sunday July 16 2017
Transfer fee insanity

When Leonardo Bonucci is sold for €10m less than Kyle Walker, the market has gone truly mad, writes Greg Murray.

Earlier this week, Milan and Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta reaffirmed what many of us have been thinking this transfer window: fees are ridiculously high.

This is no new statement. In the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record breaking €94m transfer to Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti commented that “everything has gone mad”. The current Bayern Coach was not mistaken, as the record has since been beaten three times.

Where Nesta truly hit the nail on the head, however, is with his observation that rather than the fees themselves being higher, “the quality seems lower”.

The current Miami FC Coach was no cheap acquisition, costing Milan just over €30m back in the summer of 2002. But whereas Nesta is considered one of the best defenders of all time, this summer has seen the likes of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker sold for roughly €55m. Whilst undoubtedly a decent player, no one would mention Walker and Nesta in the same breath, let alone dream the former would be worth almost double the latter.

Across Serie A, clubs have been both buying and selling unremarkable players for remarkable fees. Milan and Roma in particular have lead the market in this regard, with the Rossoneri splurging €25m on Andrea Conti and €38m on Andre Silva. Whilst both of these players have bags of potential, neither has seen more than one season in the top flight.

On the opposite end of transactions, Roma have already sold the likes of Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger and Leandro Peres for €42m, €35m and €23m respectively. These were all good players for the Giallorossi, with Salah enjoying his two-year spell in Rome, and yet the fees that they are going for appear excessive.

To put these sales into context, 20 years ago Inter bought Ronaldo for €28m, whilst Juventus brought in Filippo Inzaghi and Edgar Davids for just €10m and €8m respectively.

This meteoric rise in player value is often attributed solely to financial factors such as foreign owners and increased club income. After all, the €2.82bn deal signed by Sky Italia and Mediaset has undoubtedly raised spending power throughout Serie A, whilst the financial impact of both Milan teams being taken over by new Chinese owners is clear to see.

And yet, to suggest that player value is unequivocally linked with club wealth would be misguided, as this summer has not been without its share of bargains.

Following the aforementioned trio of high profile sales, new Roma Sporting Director Monchi has brought in the likes of Maxime Gonalons for €5m and Lorenzo Pellegrini for €10m (albeit with the benefit of a buy-back clause negotiated by his predecessor). In doing so he has acquired two central midfielders, one vastly experienced and the other full of potential, for roughly a quarter of what Bayern Munich paid for Corentin Tolisso. 

Similarly, Inter managed to poach Borja Valero from Fiorentina for just €5m. Despite being on the wrong side of 30, the Spanish midfielder has been one of La Viola’s top players for half a decade and the man with the co-ordinates of Ponte Vecchio tattooed on his arm seemed destined to see out his career in Florence. Even without the deep-rooted problems at that club, €5m is a remarkably low fee for a rival.

Finally, with all the hype surrounding Conti, the transfer of Nicola Murru has gone under the radar. Operating on the opposite flank to Milan’s new right-back, Murru followed Conti through the Azzurrini set-up and spent four seasons in Serie A with Cagliari. Considering his tender age of 22, Sampdoria pulled off a coup to sign him for just €6m.

Evidently, although a market saturated with wealth facilitates high transfer fees, it does not necessitate it. Instead, avoiding obvious transfers and manipulating player-club relations is the modus operandi for the cash-strapped transfer guru.

This being said, during a summer in which Leonardo Bonucci has been sold for €10m less than Kyle Walker, we can agree with Ancelotti: the world has gone mad.  

Have your say...
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on the 25th August, 2017 at 3:01am
I think Juve is doing great in this regard of transfer activity, although Higuain capture sounded like madness and ROI over him has been achieved only 50% so far. Anyway, this is one of the clubs to be taken as an example. Very Good Management!
on the 24th July, 2017 at 5:56pm
There are reasons for insanity with no doubt "income increase", "marketing" etc. You can't just buy the best asset of another club for reasonable fee. They also have to make some profit. When there is a competition fees are going higher automatically. Important thing is that when you invest on a player it must repay what you have spent through (merchandising, gate receipts, winning matches, etc.) C. Ronaldo is a good example of good investment. Clubs spending big are at high risk for bad ROI.
on the 24th July, 2017 at 5:48pm
There are reasons for insanity with no doubt "income increase", "marketing" etc. You can't just buy the best asset of another club for reasonable fee. They also have to make some profit. When there is a competition fees are going higher automatically. Important thing is that when you invest on a player it must repay what you have spent through (merchandising, gate receipts, winning matches, etc.) C. Ronaldo is a good example of good investment. Clubs spending big are at high risk for bad ROI.
on the 24th July, 2017 at 5:47pm
Juventus fee paid to Arsenal for W. Szczesny was incredible bargain.
on the 24th July, 2017 at 1:28pm
@Milanista pretty sure Pippo Inzaghi would be your archetypal "limited number 9" and yet I think it's fair to say Milan got more than their money's worth on him.
on the 23rd July, 2017 at 6:02am
Erm why is Kessie or anyone getting a positive review after the Dortmund game. Kessie was terrible because he doesn't pass. He dribbles. It's basically Kucka again but a little bit more talented. I checked him out on YouTube and the one thing that jumps out is the extra touch or touches he takes every time he gets the ball. It absolutely kills the game. The biggest problem at Milan is the slowness of the play. That's why se can't beat Carpi. He needs to seriously speed things up.
on the 19th July, 2017 at 11:53am
Here's more transfer madness. Milan are playing a friendly atm and there's players starting who won't be at the club this season. So why are we bothering playing them? What do we get out of it? If some players aren't ready, why not play youth? It's just frustrating watching players that you're no longer allowed to like, like Niang and Bacca.
on the 18th July, 2017 at 11:28am
Good luck to Milan, they may be naive but I dont begrudge them. It is corrupt Platini's FFP that is at fault not Milan. I have been saying this for years. It is the 4th CL spot that has given them confidence to spend $$$$$.
on the 18th July, 2017 at 6:30am
Kyle Walker is one of the best RB's in the world, which makes it sad he's gonna get a ton of pressure...deserved. Naturally, a player moving within CL clubs in the same league, from the country in which the league is exists, is gonna cost a little extra...and he's one of the best, in the argument for best in his league at his position (and was the best over this past season)...and yet, damn...that's a lot of money.

Still don't get why Bonucci was so "cheap".
on the 18th July, 2017 at 3:06am
FFP is idiotic like someone said here. What it is needed is a salary/transfer cap limit for all european clubs, or at least those who participate in the UCL. Otherwise, with the different rules/taxes across countries, FFP has non-sense at all
on the 17th July, 2017 at 6:52pm
Oh the irony in this articles and opinions.Afraid of a giant awakening? Maldini's Heir: Juventus does not need to buy a lot because its core is great, they can buy a world class, a couple of players here and there and they are good to go. Except, of course, they sell a world class player from its team, which automatically put them in the market to replace him.
Last season Milan was horrible.Let's see how all the new people in it goes first then we talk-The pitch says if a player was cheap or not
on the 17th July, 2017 at 6:23pm
With these rules how van a team like roma or a team like milan ever compete with a team like madrid or man city. Those teams have almost billion dollar debts and yet every year other not so big teams have to sell their best player to balance the books and follow FFP. It is the craziest rule and they need much improving to it so all teams have an equal chance. End of the day were better off not having this rule because the big teams only get stronger and the less financial teams get smaller
on the 17th July, 2017 at 6:22pm
FFP is the most flawed thing ever and it's only a money grab. They should either totally change it or take it out completely. I mean teams like Barcelona man utd man city real Madrid bayern can buy whomever they want because they make it back, while serie a team's and other leagues have to sell to balance books. Look at roma, they have to sell their best players so they don't get sanctioned. While real can afford to keep James Rodriguez on the bench.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 6:18pm
We lived in days when the likes of Trezeguet and Shevchenko were valued at 22-24 Millions. Not to forget Cannavaro by paying a couple of millions + Carini. Or even getting Barzagli with less than 1 million (to be paid in installments).

50 Millions could get 3 Nestas and 4 Cannavaros 20 years ago.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 5:58pm
MHeir's theory sounds fantastic but I don't think Milan would be that audacious... I simply think they're betting on the great potential of their players, if the players do well they make it into the Champions League, and they are banking on the fact the players' valuations will rise and they can sell one or two for $100m each! Will they gel?

Inter are playing clever, lots of wonderkids already signed, and waiting and seeing which players are surplus to requirements at Real, PSG, Chelsea, etc
on the 17th July, 2017 at 5:42pm
If you want to show madness, then talk about Belotti's price tag, 100 million for a useless troll who is going to be the next Immobile, he too had a good year at Torino and then sold, both are the same, classic limited Italian number 9's.

Even Morata is worth 90 million when he's just a sub at Real, crazy times in football no doubt.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 4:52pm
Inter and Suning have done it the right way. This path will only hurt milan long term, when their owners are investigated, and their squad underachieves. Future forecasted revenues in FFP doesn't work, and is not it's intention in the wording. Save the salty comments, this is called perspective. Your outlandish spending isn't impressing anyone.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 3:39pm
Milan are setting themselves up for a big investigation by Fifa. In May they were speak with Fifa about their FFP, they didn't, then they were to present their FFP proposal to Fifa and didnt' and asked for an extension. Cooking the books so they can keep buying players at an unprecedented pace. Now they talk about Belotti and or Morata for 80 million and 70 million?. Renato Sanches for 40 million?. With out ZERO new revenue streams, you tell me how they can afford this outlandish spending.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 3:19pm
@ Amit - 50 quid, minus tax, retailer mark-up and Nike's cut.

For sure it is a hugely profitable revenue stream, but those numbers need adjusting.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 1:10pm
The only way Milan can get decent players is by paying 3 times what they're worth and giving them wages of 10+ million.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:43pm
Locatelli become a milan legend? What's more satisfying? The only way this madness can end is by restricting transfers. No team should be able to or need to sign more than 3 players in the summer and 1 in the winter. Squads should be limited to 23 with the balance made up of youth team. There should be restrictions on loans: a player should be loaned more than twice. This raise the level of the game because teams would be tighter. The real secret to Juve's sucesss was longevity and consistency.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:25pm
I'm expecting any day not to read that Locatelli has been sold. There's no room for him now we've signed Biglia. So as fans we're supposed to forget those moments last season: the goal against sassuolo and the tears; the goal against Juve. And we're supposed to embrace Biglia who couldn't even get the name of the club right? Is Biglia a better player?
Well he's older and he's been in the World Cup final. He's not the best in the world but he's solid. But who cares? Don't you want to see Locatell
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:20pm
Someone got a cut on each one of those transfers. As a result of this circus nobody is performing at their potential. Nobody. If I changed jobs every few months I wouldn't reach my potential. It takes about 3-6 month to settle into an office job. How the hell are players supposed to combine in a split second at the top level of football if there's changing job so often? Milan certainly needed improvement but can this number of signings gel? And what happens if they don't? Do we go again?
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:15pm
the problem with capping players wages or transfer fee is that encourages clubs and individuals to deal under the table. If you want to stop this nonsense just insist on a law which no club is allowed to sign a player at youth or senior level who is born 30 miles away from the home stadium that would stop this nonsense.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:15pm
The transfer figures are ridiculous. However what's even more ridiculous is number of transfers. Last season the top 5 leagues in Europe (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue - 98 teams) moved about 2,500 players or about 25 players each. Milan this summer have already signed 10 players and could end the summer with about 12 or 13. Now imagine any other professional organisation changing that many of their staff every few months? It's madness. And the only justification is money.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 12:12pm
Please stop comparing transfer fees from 10, 20 years ago to today. There is something in economic called time value of money, $1 20 years ago is worth way more today. Just a thought!
on the 17th July, 2017 at 11:19am
Clubs make next nothing from shirt sales so they wont cover the costs of the player, kit providers pay a lump sum to clubs each year as part of the kit contract, but the industry standard is for the kit provider to receive 85-90% of all revenue from shirt sales...
on the 17th July, 2017 at 10:03am
Listen you not taking into account inflation with the financial market in general into account over the years or the fact that the revenue of football has exponentially increased as has the demand round the world to see top level football as mad as the current transfer fees seem its inevitable...
on the 17th July, 2017 at 9:25am
Revenues paid by UEFA for small bunch of Champions League clubs are too high, while they are too low for many many clubs playing in European Ligue.
on the 17th July, 2017 at 9:06am

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