Sunday, August 31, 2014 will mark the end of this season’s transfer business for football clubs. I have written about the rich business culture of Real Madrid on this column in the past. Today, I’m going to take a look at the strategy employed by football clubs especially when signing a new player.
For one thing, Real Madrid have paid the most for football players in history. I used to think that Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest transfer they ever made. I was wrong. In actual fact, it is Gareth Bale.
According to Wikipedia, ‘On 1 September 2013, Bale was transferred to Spanish team Real Madrid for an undisclosed fee. The Spanish press and Real Madrid TV reported £77 million (€91 million), while the English press reported a world record transfer fee of £85.3 million (€100 million), which would be above Cristiano Ronaldo‘s transfer record fee of £80 million (€94 million).’
In spite of the story above, it is widely accepted that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most expensive player, when we talk about the transfer market. Ronaldo’s contract with Real Madrid, under the terms of which he is paid €21 million per year (after taxes), makes him the highest-paid footballer in the world, and his buy-out clause is valued at €1 billion.
The question is; why do some players get sold for more than £50m while others who may appear to be excellent players get sold for much less?
Before we answer that, be reminded that transfers can function in different ways, as teams can offer another player on their squad as part of the compensation.
Another transfer strategy is that of clubs buying 50% of the rights of players’ contract for one year and paying the wages, while also deciding which of the two clubs he will play for. At the end of the year, both clubs can choose to place a bid in an auction, where the highest bid wins. A journalist once referred to this transfer strategy as the ‘the cattle market’. A club could also take ownership of a player’s economic rights from third-party sources, such as football agents, sports-management agencies. Some expensive players have been signed in this way.
Another method of transfer is a loan. This is where a player is allowed to temporarily play for a club other than the one he is currently contracted to. Loan deals may last from a few weeks to all season-long and can also be for a few seasons.
Why do some players get transferred for very high fees, while others go for very low fees? One thing that necessitates the increase in sale prices of players during transfer windows is that the frenetic hurrying to sign a player during the last week of the window, such as we have now, can lead to a player being sold for double the normal asking price, if the buying club really need the player. Angel Di Maria’s sale for example, drew close to the end of the transfer window, if not, chances are, he won’t be that expensive.
But for others, their football professionalism ensures that they be transferred in big deals. Bale and Ronaldo are a good example.
So, you won’t be surprised when you think of Bale or Ronaldo. Gale for example, has been described as a footballer with “tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities. As such, no club that is able to afford him will renege at the thought of doing so if the opportunity comes up.
A quick look at major transfers in the past
· Zinedine Zidane was the most expensive player in the world for eight years.
· Edinson Cavani is the most expensive player purchased by a French team.
· Angel Di Maria is the most expensive player purchased by an English team.
· Hernán Crespo is the most expensive player purchased by an Italian team.
· Javi Martínez is the most expensive player purchased by a German team.
· Hulk is the most expensive player purchased by a Russian team.
· Diego Maradona is the only player to twice be transferred for world record fees.