Paying over the odds for so-called ‘wonderkids’ that have yet to make an impact on the game has become commonplace in many of Europe’s top leagues. The newest member of the ‘Sport Is Everything’ team, Mark Maher from C’mon U Rs, discusses this alarming trend as it threatens to impact the economical future of football:
In early 2011, Chelsea confirmed that they had beaten off stiff competition from a host of other top European clubs by signing the young Brazilian, Lucas Piazon. At the time, Piazon had shown plenty of promise with a series of classy performances for the Brazil u-15 and Brazil u-17 teams but had never made an appearance with the Sao Paolo first team. Also at the time, Luis Fabiano – with 28 goals in 43 games for Brazil and at 30 years old, he was considered to be in his prime. Tottenhan Hotspur had declared a serious interest in the player, as had Sao Paolo, but the latter hit a stumbling block when they couldn’t afford the transfer fee. Up steps Chelsea, willing to offer the club a reported £5 million up front with the fee rising to £8-10 million pounds depending on appearances for Piazon – a youngster that had never kicked a ball for the Sao Paolo senior team. With this transfer Sao Paolo were able to snap up Fabiano for a bargain €7.6 million euros – snubbing Spurs in favour of returning to his homeland along the way.There is no doubt that Lucas Piazon has the potential to be a star, as he already draws comparisons to fellow compatriot Kaka, however how a kid that has never played a senior game can cost more than an established international in his prime – makes you wonder has the transfer market in football gone mad.
Fabiano, was selected by Brazil to spearhead their attack in the recent friendly against England at Wembley, while Piazon has yet to win his first cap….. Another example of this is Andy Carroll, who is currently on loan at West Ham from Liverpool: In January 2011, Liverpool shocked the football world when paying Newcastle a staggering £35 million pounds for Andy Carroll. At just 22, he had shown signs of a bright future after impressing in the Premier League with Newcastle and had just won his first cap for the England squad. However, this transfer fee made him the eight most expensive player in the world, a huge gamble when you compare this to the transfer fee of £28 million Barcelona paid for Spain’s all-time top scorer David Villa (51 goals in 82 games) only a few months previous. Since then, Carroll has failed to impress for Liverpool with 11 goals from 58 appearances, and has been loaned out to West Ham for the remainder of the season – with a reported agreement of an £18 million transfer fee in place. Obviously not in Brendan Rodgers plans, the club are willing to accept a £17 million loss, making him a massive flop for the club.
Other transfers that resemble this include Lucas Moura signing for P.S.G for £40 million, snubbing a £25 million offer from Man Utd along the way. In 2011, Moura showed he had immense talent by scoring nine goals and providing four assists in 28 appearances in the “Campeonato Brasileiro” and caught the eye of Alex Ferguson. Ferguson knew that he had to act quickly and offered a reported £25 million for the wonderkid, but Sao Paolo held firm as they knew other clubs in Europe were also interested so waited for a better deal. Up steps mega rich P.S.G, blowing all rivals out of the water with a mouth watering £40 million offer for the teenager. Upon signing, he was immediately loaned back to Sao Paolo until January 2013 and to be fair, the now 20 year-old has made an impressive start to his P.S.G career – starring in a 4-0 win over Toulouse at the weekend. Due to the successful careers of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and co – Brazilian clubs know that the major European clubs are desperately hoping to unearth the next generation of superstars, so are holding these clubs to ransom for their best young players. But for every Ronaldo, you may also get a Denilson – a player who broke the world record transfer fee back in 1998 when Real Betis paid Sao Paolo (surprise surprise!) £21.5 million. He never fulfilled his potential and by 2000, Betis were relegated and he was flogged back to Flamengo on loan.
Last but not least are the €95 million double signing’s of Hulk and Axel Witzel for Zenit: Although exceeding the age of “wonderkids”, these 2 players have caused a rebellion in Russia due to the extravagant transfer fee. Zenit’s owners presumed signing these players would guarantee success but couldn’t have wished for a worse outcome. Amid rumours of jealous teammates not passing the ball or even talking to these 2 players due to the massive wages they command compared to the rest of the squad, experienced midfielder Igor Denisov spoke out against the players after a series of below par performances. “Why would foreigners earn three times more than the best players in the team? That’s why I asked for a pay rise. But I was axed by the coach instead,” he fumed as he was demoted to the reserves instead of a new contract. Hulk in particular, has been considered the biggest flop and has also been the target of racial abuse from his own fans. Witsel, who actually has had a good start to his Zenit career, has been isolated by his team-mates due to his high wages. Since the 2 arrivals, Zenit have had a disappointing season crashing out of the Champions League and currently lying third in the Russian championship – showing money doesn’t necessarily buy success.
SPORT IS EVERYTHING. Mark Maher.
Mark Maher has recently joined the ‘Sport Is Everything’ team and is an avid Queens Park Rangers fan. Mark writes his own blog on all footballing matters, with an emphasis on his beloved QPR and it can be found at: http://cmonurs.blogspot.ie/