The Transfer Window: Rip Off Britain

The months of speculation are over. The “will he or won’t he” sagas, the haggling over price tags and back page rumours are gone.

Well, actually, of course they’re not. But the transfer window has finally closed and English clubs have spent a record £870m this summer.

Yes, that is correct – eight hundred and seventy million pounds.

And just to put a bit of context to that, it is more money than the cumulative fees spent by clubs in La Liga and Serie A combined.

It is an absolutely staggering amount of cash, and if you add everything shelled out during January too, spending for 2015 is past the £1bn mark.

I suppose we should not be too surprised, given the amount Premier League clubs are receiving just to have their matches broadcast live on SKY TV.

But as a fan of a lower league club, I also think it is difficult not to feel slightly aggrieved when you see figures like that slipping so easily from bank account to bank account for the latest hot property.

Down in the Conference, you are hard pushed to find any kind of fee being spent for a player.

Of course, some clubs have money (I’m looking at you, Forest Green!), but it is often spent on wages instead of transfers.

When you put that kind of cash into comparison to what is being thrown around in the Premier League…well it just does not compare does it!

I guess, once again, you are getting back to that age-old argument of looking at how much some clubs lower down the ladders are struggling financially, no matter how clever they are with their money.

Then you look a bit higher up, and Manchester City are signing Patrick Roberts, a lad who has only made a handful of league appearances for Fulham, for £12m.

Basically, throwing it around like there is no tomorrow. It is no wonder so many people have become somewhat disillusioned with the top of the game.

There were two transfers that I found particularly staggering.

I will start with Kevin de Bruyne, who I genuinely cannot believe Manchester City have paid so much to take to the Etihad Stadium.

The Belgian spent 18 months with Wolfsburg, having joined them from Chelsea for £18m in January 2014.

Fast forward to August 2015 and City were spending over three times that amount to sign him. £55m!!

I mean, he did okay in Germany. He scored 13 goals in 51 league games (according to Soccerbase), a decent record for a midfielder, and weighed in with his fair share of assists too.

There can be little doubt that during his time there, he improved Wolfsburg as a team and individually took his game to a new level.

But the club must have been rubbing their hands together with glee when they negotiated that fee.

One reason for that is they spent the money on two better players – bringing in defender Dante from Bayern Munich and Schalke’s midfielder Julian Draxler as replacements.

The second transfer that somewhat shocked me (and many others) was Anthony Martial signing for Manchester United.
Now, I must admit, I know very little about the lad. In fact, very little is an overstatement.

So, any French football experts reading this, feel free to shoot me down, but a fee of £36m for a relatively unknown teenager seems like a ridiculous overpayment.

Martial could of course go on to be an absolute star. He must certainly have potential for Louis van Gaal to spend so much cash.

But when did we move into a world where it was thrown about so easily?

Genuine world class players have switched clubs for less money than that – and in the last eighteen months.

I am looking particularly at Cesc Fabregas joining Chelsea for around £25m or Petr Cech going to Arsenal for £13m.

These players are genuine game changers, something Martial may too be. But on top of that, they are proven in the Premier League. They have shown they can do it right at the top of the game. Has he done anything outside of Ligue 1?

And if you combine the money it cost to get the both of them, it is only slightly more than what United have spent on Martial.

It just seems like a complete absurd amount of money and, at that, a very “Un-Manchester United” thing to do.

Anyway, good look to the lad. He might turn out to be an absolute world beater.

For that amount of cash, you would kind of hope he will be, because the pressure of such a large fee hanging over his shoulders will surely start to get to him if he does not hit the ground running.

One person who was left somewhat unhappy on transfer deadline day was Saido Berahino.

There was plenty of interest in him during the window, as Spurs attempted to sign him but saw four bids rejected.
The striker wanted to leave though and submitted a transfer request asking to swap the Hawthornes for White Hart Lane.

That too was turned down, so at the time of writing, West Brom are set to meet with the striker because he is refusing to play for them again.

What a way to alienate yourself from your fans – the same ones who have supported the lad through his entire career.
It is such a shame that loyalty continues to drip out of the game, and this is just the latest example.

Berahino signed his first professional contract with the Baggies in 2011 but he really made his name last year, netting 20 goals.

He put pen to paper on his current deal with the club two years ago, so whether or not he deserves a wage increase could be argued given his stature in the game now compared to then. But the two parties have held talks – they just have not been resolved.

However, after all that the club have invested in him, he has thrown his toys out of the pram.

West Brom have paid him for years, moulded him into the footballer he is today and given him the chance to perform in the Premier League against some of the world’s greatest players.

But that all suddenly gets forgotten when another “better” club comes calling.

If the lad was out of contract, you could understand him wanting to move on. It is part of the game, players leave on free transfers.

They want to better and further their careers, perhaps increase the chance of winning a trophy and earn more money at that.

John Stones put in a transfer request at Everton. Chelsea had three bids for him rejected and he wanted to move on.

But when Roberto Martinez told Jose Mourinho where to go and firmly informed Stones he was going nowhere, the defender did not kick up a fuss. He got on with his job like a professional.

A similar situation to Berahino happened at the Etihad Stadium this summer as Manchester City finally completed their long, drawn out move for Raheem Sterling.

The winger was under contract at Anfield, but made is clear he wanted to leave and refused to sign a new deal, despite talks lasting for nearly the entire 2014/15 season.

Liverpool were well within their rights to tell Manchester City where to go.

But I guess in the end, the money was good enough and they felt Sterling could be replaced.

West Brom on the other hand – if they can get Berahino firing on all cylinders, will not be able to bring in somebody who can do as good a job.

The same goes for Everton with Stones. Even if Chelsea had paid £40m for him, given the time left to bring in another centre-back, the defender was practically irreplaceable.

So player power, overall, has taken a bit of a knock during the window. It is refreshing that we are no longer in an age when anybody can push through a move to an interested club, regardless of whether or not they are under contract.

And perhaps, even hopefully, when the next big thing is wanted by a Chelsea, Manchester City or Arsenal in the next window, he will follow John Stones’ lead, instead of Saido Berahino.

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