Okay, we know that soccer has gone insane in terms of the value clubs put on players in the transfer market today. Clubs like PSG, Real Madrid, and so on are spending money with reckless abandon paying anything north of £30 million for certain players whose overall ability levels place them in the £15-20 million range. And by the way the players I am referring to are those hyped up by the press due to really good performances. Of course any delusional person can tell you that Nicklas Bendtner is not worth £20 million (whether he’s worth more or less depends on if the person being asked is the player himself).
Every player hits a purple patch at some point in his career and the duration of this period of high performance is what separates a star from an average player. The mistake most clubs make is basing their value of a player entirely on this period of form. That’s why teams most often than not pay too much money to buy players who turn out to be one season wonders– or pre-contract wonders as in the case of Emmanuel Adebayor who seems to lose his ability to score whenever his security is guaranteed in form of a contract.
However, and back to the earlier point, this risk of possibly overpaying for players seem not to have discouraged clubs– especially those with limitlessly wealthy sugar daddies– from splashing insane amounts of cash at the latest flavor of the month or season. Only recently Real Madrid spent a whooping £100 million to prise Gareth Bale away from Tottenham. Granted, the Welsh star had been at the top of his game in the two prior seasons, but that amount was still too much for a player not named Ronaldo or Messi. Even Suarez was a better performer than Bale that season and lost, for the most part, the BPL best player award to the latter because he left a mark on one opposition too many.
Also, just when I thought I had seen it all with Real Madrid, PSG performed an even more bizarre transaction by signing David Luiz for £50 million. Oh, how Chelsea fans must have loved making a £50 million joke on someone else. As it turned out, the Brazilian was not quite a Fernando Torres, as he has had a solid Ligue 1 season so far and contributed one of the goals that knocked the blues out of the Champions League. What an unfair world!
So, at what point do these really wealthy teams consider an in-form player overly overpriced (assuming that financial fair play restrictions are not a concern)? That is, even though the wanted player in question can be afforded at the hypothetical inflated fee, can the club refuse signing the professional simply because spending that much on him would be a silly waste of money?
The answer to this question is difficult, but it looks like Manuel Pellegrini and one Rodney Marsh (ex-England striker) are bent on finding an answer to it. A short while ago, Pellegrini suggested in an interview that Raheem Sterling was worth £100 million. Now, I know the man has been having some problems with getting his star-studded team to perform and may be trying to play some mind games to unsettle the youngstar for the upcoming transfer window but come on, he has to do better than that. I don’t know how Manchester City’s owners operate but if I were the Sheikh and a coach who just recently got destroyed by Barcelona despite boasting such an expensively assembled squad made such a statement, any feint hopes he had of retaining his job would’ve been out the window.
But then again, his plan may have worked as Sterling’s representatives are still holding out for a new deal worth about £150,000 in wages. And who knows, maybe City’s owners may agree with him and fork out something close to £100 million next summer should Liverpool show a willingness to sell.
Regardless of what happens, Pellegrini has given us a very good opportunity to test the theory regarding the limits of wealthy team owners. Bravo Manuel!! Maybe next week, come out again and say that Sterling may be worth £150 million. Better still, suggest that Mario Balotelli is too good for Liverpool and should be starting at big clubs like Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Accompanying the Manchester City manager in testing the aforementioned theory is Rodney Marsh who not only tipped Harry Kane to be better than Alan Shearer, but also believes him to be worth £100 million in the transfer market. I mean, how much longer will this figure be thrown around before it is agreed that these guys are just trolling Real Madrid? Harry Kane has been a phenomenal player this season no doubt but placing such a price tag on his head at this early stage is why perceptions that English players are overhyped are unlikely to die out any time soon.
The England international just started playing regularly toward the end of last year and he’s already being compared to Shearer. Talk about premature hype. Even Gareth Bale who had two great seasons under his belt before his record breaking move is yet to fully justify the price the Spanish giants paid to bring him to Madrid.
However, this is soccer and anything can happen. Who would’ve thought that any team would pay a whooping £2.4 million for Manchester United flop Bebe (jokes aside, he’s proven a decent acquisition for Benfica so far)?
While we wait to see if Pellegrini and Marsh’s noble attempts to get an answer to our question yields any fruitful results, it is important to realize that a player’s worth is, to a reasonable extent, based on perception. So wealthy clubs without FFP concerns have no incentive not to buy seemingly “overpriced” players as long as they perceive that player worthy of the pricetag being paid for him. For instance, Real Madrid chose not to buy Radamel Falcao because he wasn’t worth as much to them. Contrast this with Manchester United who loaned him regardless of the huge amounts of money involved and the risk in terms of his fitness. It is obvious that his perceived value was higher for United, which were trying to prove that they could still attract world-class talent without the UEFA Champions League lure.
In addition, hindsight plays a huge role in determining which players are over-valued and those under-valued. In hindsight, Mangala is seen by many as being undeserving of the £32 million Manchester City paid to acquire him. And just some months back, everybody was caught in the hype of one young French international defender whose partnership with Vincent Kompany was going to be the most formidable in the Barclays Premier League.