CRAIGE: Transfer Market Sees Record Transactions
The Beautiful Game

The wildness of the summer transfer market appears to be in full swing once again in our beloved soccer world. With rumors swirling around at all hours of the day, it can be very difficult to tell which ones are accurate and which ones are just far-fetched fantasy. Some of these deals, such as Mario Götze’s move back to Borussia Dortmund or Manchester United signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer, come as no surprise. Others, such as Brazilian forward Hulk’s staggering £46.1 million move to Shanghai SPG, leave all of us scratching our heads in wonder.

Something that has always bothered me about the transfer market is the astronomical figures that clubs are willing to pay, oftentimes for players who are not worth nearly that amount of money. Don’t get me wrong, Hulk is a very fine forward indeed. He is a very consistent goal scorer who has not gotten the credit that he deserves. To be fair, many of these goals came in the Russian league, which is not exactly the same caliber as a Premier League or La Liga. He is just not £46.1 million-fine.

Thanks to Shanghai’s willingness to fork over colossal amounts of money, Hulk will be making a mind-blowing £384,000 per week—more than three times the weekly salary of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, one of the world’s premier goal-scorers. Hulk’s transfer to a Chinese club was worth slightly more than French great Zinedine Zidane’s move from Juventus to Real Madrid. To go even further, Raheem Sterling’s move from Liverpool to Manchester City was for £49 million. As much as it pains me to say, Sterling — despite his wildly inconsistent play — should be valued a great deal more than Hulk.

The sad thing is that Hulk’s move will not even end up being the biggest transfer of the summer. Thus far in the transfer window, the biggest moves have been N’Golo Kante to Chelsea (£30 million), Michy Batshuayi to Chelsea (£33 million) and Sadio Mané to Liverpool (£34 million). It seems ludicrous to say that these have been relatively small deals so far, but that is the reality of the soccer transfer market.

There is just over a month left in the transfer window, which could be a potential reason as to why we have not seen any truly insane deals yet. It is rumored — in fact, it is looking more and more likely — that 23-year-old French midfielder Paul Pogba will be the biggest catch of the summer.

Pogba has been a target for Manchester United for the last two years. This is pretty ironic considering that Manchester was where Pogba’s career got underway, until the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson decided that he was not worth the trouble – apparently, Pogba disrespected the club – and shipped him to Juventus.

In the last three years, Pogba has scored 34 goals for Juventus. This is a fairly respectable number for a midfielder. Coupled with his relative consistency, it is easy to understand why Pogba was named the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player in 2014 and how he made the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year.

In previous years, Pogba has also shown his worth while playing for the French national team. He was easily one of France’s best players at the 2014 World Cup. At this year’s European Championship however, Pogba was inconsistent at best. It was his fault that Republic of Ireland was able to take the early lead in that Round of 16 match and he was practically invisible during the final against Portugal. One could make excuses for him based on his youth and relative inexperience, but this excuse fades away when you consider that Renato Sanches, who is just 18 years old, was critical to Portugal’s success.

The key question, then, is: if Pogba is inconsistent, what possible reason is there for Manchester United to be making a rumored £100 million – according to some reports, it could even go as high as £120 million – bid for him? Yes, you read that correctly. Manchester United is so desperate to sign Pogba that they will hand over at least £100 million to Juventus.

This is exactly what is wrong with the transfer market. It is ridiculous that a team would pay out that much money for a player who has attitude problems and who has scored a mere 34 goals. When you consider that Real Madrid paid £85 million for Gareth Bale, who has scored 47 goals in three years alone, and £80 million for Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a staggering 61 goals within a single season, this is especially ridiculous. Another fact: Championship side Wolverhampton was just bought for £45 million. Pogba is apparently worth more than double the value of a historic English club.

Pogba is talented, there is no denying that. But there is absolutely no scenario in which Pogba is worth more money than Ronaldo or Bale. For a comparison, consider that the top ten hockey players in the NHL, including superstars like Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, were making a combined $124 million in 2015. That could end up being just $4 million more than what Pogba will be worth. Certainly, there is a slight difference because the soccer world — with the exception of the MLS — is not restricted to a salary cap in the same way that the NHL is. The principle, however, remains very much the same. If you need any more proof, think about this: Leicester City’s championship winning squad was worth £57 million.

If this deal goes through, which it almost certainly will, Juventus will have pulled off one of the greatest business deals that Europe has ever seen. It is a transfer that could prove horrific for Pogba career-wise, as I find it hard to believe that he will not clash with Jose Mourinho. Whatever ends up happening, we can all shake our heads in disbelief and daydream about what we would do with that much money.

VanessaCraige-150x150Vanessa Craige is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. The Beautiful Game appears every Tuesday and Friday.

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