The transfer market absurdity

In the 2016 season, Paul Pogba to United was the only transfer that crossed the £50 million mark. This season, Lukaku, Morata, Lacazette and Walker have already strolled past the number and they could still have company!

Chelseas’s latest signing, Alvaro Morata is surrounded by fans as he he arrives at the Changi International Airport ahead of the International Champions Cup in Singapore.   -  Getty Images

I’m working hard on my vocabulary for this one, but I’m stuck with absurd, outlandish, ridiculous and bizarre. The European football transfer market is all this and more. And it’s come to a point where I don’t know what to make out of it any more!

To say that managers are handed treasure chests to shop is an understatement. They’re handed vaults, very big ones. In my attempt to make sense of the way things work, I came across an interesting insight that said the moment a player is linked to a move to an English club, his value is upped by anywhere between 40% to 50%. In the 2016 season, Paul Pogba to United was the only transfer that crossed the £50 million mark. This season, Lukaku, Morata, Lacazette and Walker have already strolled past the number and they could still have company!

Walker, in becoming the world’s costliest defender, drew some Twitter-ire from Gary Lineker, who had this to say — “Fullback, Kyle Walker becomes the world’s most expensive defender at £50m plus. Imagine how much he would cost if he could cross the ball.”

But while the debates rage on — on whether the prices tags players are commanding and clubs are shelling out is justified or not — let’s fast forward to the football side of things once these deals are done. Does an exorbitant price tag bring along with it a noose, one that tightens with every average game the player has? Does it come with the threat of pushing him on a downward spiral, one that he will never recover from?

In 2011 Chelsea smashed the British transfer record fee when they paid £50 million for Fernando Torres from Chelsea. The striker, of who I am a very big fan, went on to say that he’s joined a club that’s fighting for everything. But he soon realised that he was only fighting for form and goals. It took him 903 minutes to get his first goal for the Blues. But the slide was never arrested. We all know how things went from there on for the Spaniard, who is trying to fix his bruised career at his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid. No one now speaks of Torres as much as they used to.

The press isn’t kind to such players and the burden of your price tag keeps wearing you down. It sure seems like a scary place to be in. It’s going to be interesting to track James Rodriguez. The young Colombian striker set the 2014 World Cup on fire, ending the tournament as the top scorer. Real Madrid wasted no time in throwing money (£63 million) his way and he grabbed the headlines. He’s in the news again, but this time as part of a two-year loan deal to Bayern Munich after struggling to find his feet and chances at the Santiago Barbnabeu. There are many like Rodriguez, who carry the burden of price tags that hang around their collars, and sometimes it stops being about the football. A club like Everton don’t blink before shelling out £30-40 million on a player, which — with all due respect to the club’s financial muscle — should tell you how crazy the transfer market is today.

I’ve often seen social media leave no stone unturned in mocking, debating or bringing up Paul Pogba’s record transfer of £89.3 million every time the midfielder has had a bad game for United. The ridicule is out there on every possible platform. You must have even heard of players suffering a momentary lapse of understanding and responding to fan abuse with some hard words of their own. The pressure can be telling. But somewhere I think modern day footballers are aware of the perils the fat cheques bring with them.

In all of this, you’ve got to also remember that Real Madrid has reached an agreement to pay Brazilian side Flamengo a whopping £39.6 million for 16-year-old Vinicius Junior, whose rights they will start owning from July 2018, while the youngster continues playing in Brazil. If you wonder what the future looks like with regard to the transfer market, Madrid has just shown you a glimpse. The madness will only grow. I just hope it doesn’t come at the cost of decline of footballers who did so much more with so much less.

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