Transfer fees and player value

Jordan Henderson joined Liverpool on 9th June for £20 million after making seventy-one domestic appearances for Sunderland. Four days later, Phil Jones signed for Premier League champions Manchester United for around £16.5 million after an impressive season for Blackburn Rovers.

Ashley Young soon followed Jones to Old Trafford (£17 million) while Ricardo Alvarez (to Arsenal for £12 million), Neymar(to Real Madrid for 45 million) and Alexis Sanchez (to just about every top club in the world for £45 million) are just some of the other players who have been touted for transfers this summer. All of these names have at least one thing in common: they have all prompted football fans around the world to state, “he’s not worth that amount of money”.
So-called ‘big clubs’ have been paying inflated fees for many years. The problem is that, once one team pays over-the-odds for a player, that becomes the benchmark. Cristiano Ronaldo clearly isn’t ‘worth’ £80 million but, as Real Madrid were happy to pay Manchester United this fee in 2009, other clubs took note; in football economics, if Ronaldo left Manchester for that much then surely someone, for example, who is half as good as he is should go for half the fee.
It obviously doesn’t work like that, because it is all about supply and demand in football (and the player’s contract has to be taken into consideration), but when Arsenal see Andy Carroll move to Liverpool for £35 million and Fernando Torres goes to Chelsea for £50 million after a torrid half-season at Anfield (and a poor World Cup before that by his admittedly high standards), it is hardly surprising that the Gunners scoffed at Barcelona’s £35 million valuation of their influential leader Cesc Fabregas.
The Spaniard isn’t ‘worth’ that – no human being is worth that amount of money – but this is the current state of the market. Fabregas is clearly a better footballer than Carroll, Robinho and Dimitar Berbatov, and they’ve each been bought for £30 million-plus in recent years, so common sense (or rather, footballing sense) dictates that Fabregas should be sold for more than this. Kaka went to Real Madrid for £56 million and I would imagine that Arsenal’s valuation of Fabregas would be pretty close to that.
Transfer fees have escalated because the big clubs are desperate to get their man but are not overly bothered about losing very little money, relatively speaking.
In the modern game we have the common issue of a player leaving a club at a young age and, because a side doesn’t want to miss out on millions of pounds which the player is predicted to be worth in the future, the buyer is forced to pay tens of millions of pounds extra. Henderson, Jones and to a certain extent Leeds United’s Robert Snodgrass – valued at £8 million by manager Simon Grayson last week – are all examples of this.
But do the clubs care? Of course they don’t. Ronaldo has scored sixty-six goals in sixty-three games at Madrid and the club are still doing well financially despite the obscene fee paid two years ago. They’re not going to care about the money if Ronaldo keeps producing the stunning performances that he is doing for the Bernabéu club.
Did Los Blancos worry about the £47 million fee they paid to Juventus in 2001 for three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane? What about Juve themselves when they bought their replacement for Zizou, Pavel Nedved, for £38 million? No, they were happy to pay it. No skin of their collective noses. They can afford it; it’s fine.
Except it’s not fine, because now, every time the transfer of a player is mentioned, the fee is one of the main discussion points. Dimitar Berbatov is rumoured to be leaving Manchester United for French side PSG for £11 million; it is not unreasonable to argue that last season’s Premier League top goalscorer is ‘worth’ more than this. But United are happy to accept it (allegedly) so why even bother debating it?
If football clubs are just going to treat transfer fees as digits on a screen, then that’s how transfer fees should be viewed. They certainly shouldn’t be used to rate a player or be mentioned every time a player hits a shot wide or misses the ball altogether (this is particularly prominent in the case of Fernando Torres); clubs don’t pay what a player is worth, they comply with the supply and demand-orientated market. Transfer fees, at the highest level of the game, have lost all meaning.
The fees are only going to get higher and higher, inflate further and further and so, with it, we should pay even less attention to them.

Matt Derbyshire signs on loan for Birmingham City

English youngster returns after useful spell abroad

After a disappointing World Cup for England in which many players were unable to adapt to anything other than the norm, it is refreshing to see an Englishman return after a strong period in another country.

Matt Derbyshire joined Blackburn Rovers as a seventeen-year-old after impressing whilst at local club Great Harwood Town. Derbyshire turned down the chance to play for Manchester United because he thought that his first team opportunities would be limited at Old Trafford. The striker scored ten goals in sixty-three appearances for boyhood team Blackburn, whilst also scoring ten goals in seven appearances for Wrexham, where he spent the 2005/06 season on loan.
Feeling that his chances would be limited at Rovers, with Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz and Jason Roberts in front of him in the pecking order, Derbyshire made the decision to go out on loan, with Greek giants Olympiacos the destination. On his home debut for the Greek side Derbyshire scored in extra time to secure the club’s progress to the semi-finals of the Greek Cup.
Derbyshire played a key role in the Greek Cup final in May 2009. With Olympiacos 2-0 down at half-time the striker was brought on. Derbyshire scored after three minutes of being on the pitch and, after the game had gone to 2-2, AEK Athens seemed to have scored the winner late on. With the final touch of the game, though, Derbyshire powered home a header with six minutes of injury time gone. Olympiacos went on to win the match on penalties and Derbyshire was rewarded with man of the match.
The forward moved to Olympiacos on a permanent basis in June 2009. The Greek fans had warmed to Derbyshire, nicknaming him the English Killer. The twenty-four-year-old has played fourteen times for England at under-21 level, scoring six goals, and will now be looking to help Alex McLeish’s side steer clear of relegation.
Derbyshire is one player from a list of English footballers to ply their trade abroad. A move abroad can do wonders for a player as they can learn new cultures and new ways of playing the sport, whilst also getting to grips with the style of another nation’s play. Former Liverpool midfielder Jermaine Pennant is currently playing for Spanish giants Real Zaragoza, while former Aston Villa forward Darius Vassell is currently a free agent after leaving Turkish side Ankaragucu at the end of last season.
Derbyshire passed his medical today and the Brum have an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the loan deal, which will be at the end of the season. The striker has earned the reputation of being an impact substitute but will be looking to break into the first team for Birmingham, with James McFadden, Cameron Jerome and Gary O’Connor his main foes for a place in the front-line. Derbyshire had a very good relationship with the Greek fans and will be hoping that he can maintain that at Birmingham, whilst also looking to put in some good performances in the Premier League, with half an eye on the England national team for sure. 

Hodgson Loses Star While City Continue Spending Spree

Roy Hodgson could only watch on as one of his new side’s finest midfielders departed the club for major rivals Chelsea. Yossi Benayoun, who joined Liverpool from West Ham in 2007, has signed for the Premier League champions, with the fee reportedly in the region of £5.5 million.
The Israeli captain told Chelsea’s club website: “I am very excited to come to a club like Chelsea, it is a big club and I think it is a dream for every player.”

           
A Liverpool spokesperson confirmed that the deal had been agreed when former manager Rafa Benitez was in charge, while Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti praised the new signing: “Yossi has a lot of quality in midfield and can play in lots of positions. I like his behaviour on the pitch and he will do a great job for us next season.”
           
The attacking midfielder scored 29 goals in 134 appearances for Liverpool and will surely by a great acquisition for the Blues, who already boast a strong midfield.
           
Another midfielder, this time of the more defensive-kind, signed a big-money deal today. Ivory Coast international Yaya Toure has signed for big-spending Manchester City for a fee of around £24 million. Toure joins his brother, Kolo, in the Eastlands squad. The transfer comes just days after Roberto Mancini’s side announced that a deal had been agreed between themselves and Spanish giants Valencia over the acquisition of David Silva, and a few weeks after the signing of German defender Jerome Boateng from Hamburg. It looks like it’s going to be all change in the blue side of Manchester this summer.