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The Spiralling Cost Of Pursuing Success

Thu 10th Sep 2015 | Money & Finance

On the opening day of this year’s Soccerex convention, Henry Winter hosted a live forum with Louis Saha, Gaizka Mendieta and Prime Time Sport CEO Esteve Calzada, discussing trends in the transfer market and dissecting some of the details.

Calzada delivered a presentation picking out the key figures of the latest Soccerex Transfer Review by Prime Time Sport, highlighting that the findings were in terms of fixed fees (disregarding bonuses) and also assuming 100% ownership of the player (no third parties etc.).

It was revealed that €650m worth of players signed by Premier League sides over the last three seasons were used in 50% or less of the total minutes of their club’s season. The Premier League remained European football’s highest spending division by again surpassing €1billion - a 14% increase on last year and another record high spend. Serie A is also back in the top two with €579m spent on squad renovation.

Manchester City spent the highest amount of the summer across Europe (€200m) after their release from the Financial Fair Play limitations. Manchester United were second, spending another €140m (adding to €196m spent last year). Kevin De Bruyne becomes the fifth most expensive signing in football history and puts Manchester City in the top ten for the first time. However, splashing out on expensive new players does not guarantee immediate success - only five out of the ten highest summer expenditures resulted in domestic league or Champions League success.

The Championship also saw the biggest expenditure by country for second-division leagues. English Championship sides invested a massive €137m. Watford (€47m) spent more than every other promoted team combined in the second-tier leagues of Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Calzada commented on how he believes it will become standard practice for every top club to show up in the list of highest player sales. When asked by Henry Winter about the perception of Premier League spending from Spain he referenced La Liga president Javier Tebas’ comparison with the astronomical figures seen in the NBA and also added that Spain sees English clubs’ willingness to spend on their players as something to take advantage of.

The hunt for homegrown talent 

Premier League clubs are now spending an average of €6.7m on homegrown players – the highest amount ever and up 67% on last year’s average. Manchester City’s signing of Raheem Sterling made him the most expensive English player ever in the Premier League (€60m).

Gaizka Mendieta was asked about England’s lack of success at international level and whether there was a difference in the hunger of young English players when compared with their Spanish counterparts. Mendieta raised the point that Spanish players know how to play in a range of different positions and to understand the effect of each on the game, something he says he didn’t find when he came to play in England.

The former Valencia, Lazio and Middlesbrough midfielder also spoke in favour of B teams, citing the greater level of competitiveness they provide for players from the age of 16 and through into their 20s.

Louis Saha told how he sees the money in the Premier League as a factor which makes it ‘too easy’ for young players not to pursue ways to improve. The ex-France international suggested players have to leave their comfort zone to challenge themselves and to learn different ways of working, either abroad or at other domestic clubs.

As part of the closing section of questions from the audience, the breakdown of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid at the end of this year’s summer transfer window was brought up. Mendieta said he had no doubt over the professionalism his compatriot will show from this point on and also discussed the impact the speculation and subsequent failure of the transfer would have had on de Gea’s family and that of Real’s Keylor Navas, who was reported to be moving to United in the deal.

Saha expressed his disappointment over Angel di Maria’s lack of impact in his year at United while also stating his total belief that countryman Anthony Martial will give the Reds the qualities they need and prove a long-term success.

Having earlier said how he sees every English team having someone in a Director of Football role or similar in the future, Calzada predicted a similar rise next year to the 14% increase seen in spending from European clubs this time around.

Soccerex Transfer Review 2015/2016 - Written by Chris Brookes 

Listen to the full audio HERE

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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