That Manchester United are willing to sanction the transfer of a footballer for approximately £45 million to Paris Saint-Germain when only last summer the club paid Real Madrid almost £60 million for the same Angel Di Maria arguably suggests a lack of respect for money in the current financial climate. The Argentinian was affected by an attempted burglary at his home in February and then moved to an apartment, but the fact that Manchester Utd are quickly willing to write-off approximately £15 million on a player who appeared in 27 Premier League games and netted 3 league goals in his first season suggests a mistake in their scouting or vetting system. Alternatively, it could be simply a case of there being too much money circulating among the teams vying for Champions League glory.
Manchester United have already spent a vast amount of money this summer with the purchases of Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin and so have needed to recoup some that expenditure by selling Di Maria. Yet a £15 million loss in value for Di Maria over just 12 months begs the question as whether football clubs are securing value for money in their current transfer dealings.
Winning silverware on both the domestic and European stage does attract its financial rewards but the quest to remain among the leading football clubs now appears to induce an eagerness to pay inflated prices in the hope that a player does justify his extravagant fee.
Seemingly gone are the days when much groundwork was required to establish whether a certain player would fit into a certain type of system and a way of life, with the emphasis now directed towards trying to accommodate a new acquisition and should that be a failure, then just accept the mistake and the financial loss.
This cycle may not change in the near future as agents and players continue to earn their share of money from expensive transfers while the fans of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, for example, will demand new recruits for exorbitant fees.
£15 million may also be the combined transfer budget of teams competing in several other European leagues and raises the issue as to whether football revenues should be shared more equally rather than the richer teams dominating with Champions League finance a prime reason for this imbalance.
There have been other cases of expensive flops, with unforeseen reasons often materialising, but at a time when the subject of austerity has been prevalent in European news bulletins, the actions of football clubs in accepting such heavy losses on their transfer acquisitions does not create a favourable impression especially when it appears that a portion of the money is absorbed by the agents.
With a month still remaining for the current transfer window in Europe, the recent relaxation of UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules to allow a period of ‘accelerated spending’ is likely to encourage the conclusion of many more deals in the coming weeks. Added to this scenario is the availability of increased television revenues in England with £500 million already spent this summer by Premier League teams.
Yet how many of the players involved will be trading at a substantial loss by the advent of next summer.