The Most Full-On 'Off-Season' Ever!

The Most Full-On 'Off-Season' Ever!

With the transfer window now officially open; we are already well into full-on ‘silly season’ mode. Here at 2Upfront, we look at all the rumours currently circulating and more widely, how we as football fans, find ourselves in this crazy world of multi-million pound transfers, obscene wages and ludicrous transfer speculation.

How Did We Get Here?

The 2017 summer transfer window is the culmination of many factors that we have seen building over the last few years. Firstly, the latest television rights deals have continued to plough obscene amounts of money into the European game & most especially the EPL. 2016/17 saw the 20 teams share a pot of £2.4bn, up from £1.6bn in 2014/15. The 3 relegated teams alone share just under £300m! Unlike most of the other top flight leagues; the English Premier League negotiates its tv rights deals collectively and revenues are shared – proportionally if not equally. This makes even mid-table teams the financial equals of many more illustrious teams from around the continent. Teams like Southampton, West Ham & Everton have resources that only the teams at the very top of the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, or La Liga BBVA can rival. And how they’ve flexed that financial muscle!

At its formation in 1992 the average player wage was £75,000/year by 2009 it had reached a staggering £1.1m/year (£21,000/wk) and has since soared way beyond that level. At the league’s inception, Alan Shearer was the record transfer fee at £3m. Last year Juventus sold Paul Pogba back to Man Utd. for a world record £89m fee! And all of this has lead us to the craziest & most extreme of summer transfer windows.

£100 Million Teenagers & £60 Million Full-backs

So, here we are, it’s summer silly season & ‘tout ça change’. It seems likely that the 2017/18 season will start without two of last season’s top scorers in the league – Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears to have run his course at United and at Chelsea, Antonio Conte seems to have sent Costa a ‘dear Diego’ text message! That leaves United chasing Real Madrid’s 3rd string striker – Alvaro Morata, with the Castilian side seemingly unwilling to part with the 24-year-old front man for much shy of £80m. At Stamford Bridge, Conte, in an apparent power play, is insisting the club re-sign Romelu Lukaku – also 24 – even if it means stumping up the near £100m Everton are apparently demanding before they release the big Belgian.

Speaking of the champions, they are also strongly rumoured to be pursuing Juventus’ highly rated Brazilian left-back, Alex Sandro (26) in what would be a world-record £61m fee for a defender; should they prise him away from Juve. It is also rumoured that a deal to take midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko (22) from Monaco for another £50-odd million is all but complete.

Over at the Emirates, Alexandre Lacazette (26) has concluded one of the summer’s most bizarre stories by completing a move to Arsenal. This comes after he released a statement saying that he was leaving Lyon to join Atletico Madrid – so he could play with his pal Antoine Griezmann (26) – even though he seemed (at the time) bound for Man United & Atletico Madrid were banned from signing anyone (since upheld by Court for Arbitration for Sport). When that plan fell through Lacazette said he might wait until the ban ended (January 2018). Then he decided he only wanted to join a team that had Champions League football. And so we find him about to don an Arsenal shirt! Just to be clear, Arsenal Don’t have Champions League.

This only scratches the surface! Liverpool have signed Mo Salah (25) for £36m and (allegedly) made an illegal approach for Virgil Van Dijk; who Southampton claim is not for sale at any price… except maybe they’d take £70m. Manchester City have signed Bernardo Silva (22) from Monaco for £43m and goalkeeper Ederson (23) from Benfica for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper of £35m. Clearly, Joe Hart will only be stopping at Eastlands from Torino to grab his bags before heading somewhere else – but not on loan!

But so far, Everton are the real winners of transfer one-upmanship! They’ve spent a British record £30m on Jordan Pickford (23) despite his single Premier League season ending in relegation with Sunderland – not that anyone doubts his talent in goal; they’ve made a shrewd deal for forward Sandro Ramírez (21), and splashed out another £30m on new England centre-back Michael Keane (24) from Burnley. If they do lose Lukaku for £100m they might end up about £4m in profit still! Is Lukaku worth £100m? In these times when Kylian Mbappé (18) of Monaco is reputed to be worth £120m of Arsenal’s/Real’s/PSG’s or even Liverpool’s money, then who knows what’s what.