Commentary

Is EPL Transfer Spending Really That Crazy?

The transfer window in England remains open for just six more days, but if reports across the continent are to be believed, there is much business to be done before the window closes.

There are some crazy figures being thrown around, too. Late Wednesday, the Guardian reported that Manchester City has agreed a 58 million-pound ($83.5 million) fee for Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, taking the Citizens’ total spending this summer to a monstrous 162 million-pounds ($250.5 million).

Not to be outdone, Chelsea is reportedly hot on the heels of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba as well as Everton center-back John Stones, whom the Blues have been chasing all summer. According to the Independent, coach Jose Mourinho is “convinced” he can land the duo before the Monday deadline at an estimated total cost of 100 million-pounds ($154.7 million). That would take Chelsea’s total spending this summer to a whopping 157.8 million-pounds ($212.5 million). 

Meanwhile, Manchester United, which has already spent 76.1 million-pounds ($117.5 million), is apparently willing to offer several hundred million euros for either Barcelona star Neymar or Real Madrid star Gareth Bale. However, the former, who expressed interest, is probably using United to get a more lucrative deal with Barca (which appears to be happening), but regardless, the real story is that the money is apparently there.

Indeed, the lofty figures being thrown around by the EPL’s biggest clubs have struck some as alarming. In fact, recently, Bayern Munich duo Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller -- whom United reportedly tried to lure to Old Trafford for 85 million-euros ($96.2 million) -- described the EPL’s transfer activity as “crazy” and “madness.”

Well, you can say that again.

While some of this talk is absolute, no-question-about-it madness, let’s take a look at the actual numbers for a second, just to see if the Bayern players are proven right.

If you look at the summer transfer activity of the EPL’s top six clubs so far, the net spend (players bought minus players sold) of each is actually not too outrageous -- not yet, at least. According to the British Web site Transfer League, Man City (unsurprisingly) leads the pack with a net spend of 55.4 million-pounds ($85.7 million), but this of course does not include the massive De Bruyne deal, which is not yet completed. In actual fact, City’s net spend thus far is actually pretty close to Bayern’s own net spend of 69 million-euros ($78 million).

This doesn’t mean that Boateng and Mueller are necessarily wrong, by the way, it just means that they aren’t exactly right, either. The main point is that there’s a lot of turnover at big Premier League clubs, which might be helping them inflate the transfer market.  

For example, thanks to Liverpool’s sale of Raheem Sterling to City, which it took 35.2 million-pounds ($49.5 million) from the Reds’ net spend this summer comes down to 37.3 million-pounds ($57.7 million), which is actually on par with its net transfer market spend over the last five seasons.

The Anfield club, which is second to City in net spend during the current window, is followed by Chelsea, which has thus far spent a total of 26.5 million-pounds ($41 million), then Manchester United with 20.9 million-pounds ($32.3 million), Arsenal with just 8.2 million-pounds ($12.7 million), and finally, Tottenham Hotspur, which is the only big six club currently running a surplus of 12.9 million-pounds ($20 million) from its transfer market activity.  

Of course, Bayern Munich’s players might be more concerned about player valuations being “crazy” because rich Premier League clubs are jacking up player prices. It’s hard to argue that that’s not happening, especially when you consider that Man United’s $200 million-plus offers for Neymar and Bale.

On hearing this news, Bayern defender David Alaba replied, "That's not exactly a steal." Added teammate Arturo Vidal, who arrived at Bayern for a hefty 37 million-euros ($41.9 million) this summer: "You have to score three, four goals every match, when you are that expensive.”

Perhaps, but EPL clubs have shown that, for the most part, they are willing to quickly dispense with those players that don’t meet expectations. Former Man United winger Angel Di Maria’s 44.4 million-pound ($68.7 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain is the clearest example. Which means: though the De Bruyne-to-City deal looks certain to happen, the window is still open and City will likely have to sell one or two players to offset some of the cost -- if for no other reason than UEFA’s financial fair play.

Meanwhile, Mourinho has shown that he has no problem dispensing with players that are not performing to his standards, and one or two big departures are a near-certainty if Pogba and Stones arrive at Chelsea.

While other EPL teams are likely to follow suit in the event of any big arrivals, Man United is the outlier here, as rumor has it that sponsor dollars could come into play with their spending plans. There is no precedent for this, but it should open the pioneering club up to massive spending power, which it’s apparently ready to use. Of course, it needs to settle on a firm target first.

In any event, it will be interesting over the next six days to observe the ripple effects if any more of these enormous deals actually go through. 

1 comment about "Is EPL Transfer Spending Really That Crazy?".
  1. ROBERT BOND, August 27, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

    what's crazy is for Wenger not to get another striker, & maybe a CB......

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