Despite transfer fees spiralling out of control at a rate that would give most stockbrokers heart attacks, there are still some bargains to be had.
Manchester City have led the way in terms of spending this summer, handing over more than £200m for the likes of Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Ederson Moraes and Bernardo Silva. The Walker and Mendy deals stand out on particular, as both players cost more than £50m are now the first and second most expensive defenders in the game’s history.
However, not every player is being priced out of the market – some have had price tags slapped on them that are, for one reason or another, actually far lower than they should be given the current state of transfers in the game.
Chris Smalling (Manchester United) – £10m
Look, nobody is saying that Smalling is Franco Baresi reincarnate, but in a world where Arsenal can hold out for £20m for Calum Chambers then surely an England international centre-back is worth more than £10m.
Granted, Man United haven’t been particularly good at recouping large fees for their unwanted players but with every Premier League club now swimming in TV money, they could easily demand around double that reported £10m asking price from West Brom and Newcastle and still expect to get it.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) – £15-20m
Sampdoria have already chanced their arm with a pretty meagre £6.5m transfer bid earlier this summer, and Turkish side Antalyaspor would be unlikely to offer much more than that – but even allowing for the fact that Wilshere only has one year left on his contract and his record with injuries, anything less than £20m would be a bargain for the England international (again, please note what Arsenal are demanding for Chambers).
Andy Robertson (Hull City) – £8m
This deal has already happened, as Robertson completed an £8m move to Liverpool earlier this month. Although it might not look strange in isolation, consider what Hull demanded for Harry Maguire. The 25-year-old moved to Leicester in a deal that could reach £17m, and yet they allowed Robertson – two years younger, a full Scottish international and arguably better player for Hull last year despite the relegation – was allowed to leave for just under half of that figure.
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) – €35m
Technically Bayern Munich haven’t paid that for him yet, but €35m is the reported optional fee that the German side have to buy James at the end of his two-year loan spell should they want to.
From demanding €80m from English clubs earlier in the summer to accepting less than half that (two years down the line too) from Bayern shows how desperate they were to get rid of the Colombian playmaker – and if Premier League sides had been offered similar terms then one of them would surely have taken that up.
Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen) – £16m
For Leverkusen to include a low release clause when they signed Hernandez from Man United was understandable, chances are the player insisted on it, but to then not try to increase it after he scored 26 goals in his first year at the club is just irresponsible. Still, their loss will almost certainly turn out to be West Ham’s gain once Chicharito finds his feet in the Premier League once again.
Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea) – £5m
For a club that often gets great deals on the players that they sell (case in point, Nathan Ake was sold to Bournemouth for £20m), they sometimes get one badly wrong.
Antonio Conte might not have felt that Chalobah was good enough to command a starting role at Stamford Bridge (they offered him a new contract that, knowing them, would also have seen him go out on loan) but he was still worth more than the £5m transfer fee they sold him to Watford for. It’s one they’ll regret should he make the step-up from England under-21s to the senior side.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football podcast, we caught up with Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor ahead of their move to Preston, and review the League of Ireland clubs’ European campaigns.