In the modern era it is not so much football that matters, but oil. Black gold fuels the wheels of football industry and that is never more apparent than when the game takes a break and money takes over.
The bane of some, the lifeblood of others, the summer transfer window in particular is where those with the capabilities to spend big flex their financial muscles ahead of the new season in the hope of buying their way to glory.
And never has that been more apparent than in the current window. Less than a month remains until the 2012/13 campaign kicks off and two of the clubs owned by wealthy investors from far away lands have already made their moves.
Chelsea’s signing of Brazilian star Oscar mean they have now spent a cool £70 million in this transfer window.
The 20-year-old’s arrival at Stamford Bridge comes after Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and his brother Thorgan all signed on the dotted line as owner Roman Abramovich continues to inject cash to propel Chelsea’s assault on the Premier League next term.
Now, this is far from the biggest load Abramovich has ever blown since he took control of Chelsea in 2003 – in his first two years at the helm he spent a combined total of around £300 million as he looked to drive the Blues to their first ever Premier League crown - but it is certainly a renewed assault on the transfer market after a few quiet summers.
What is interesting to see is the combined average age of all the players he has signed thus far in this window is around 20 – the golden generation of previous years is slowly being phased out.
It was also interesting to listen to Roberto di Matteo suggest today that while he will have something of a clear out, he expects further two players to arrive at Stamford Bridge – a centre-back and a striker are perhaps on the agenda for the Italian.
It comes as no surprise that the biggest spenders thus far in the summer transfer window are Paris Saint-Germain who, fuelled by money from the east, have pulled off a stunning double deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva from AC Milan for a combined fee of around £55 million pounds. Who said Financial Fair Play would curb spending?
Overall in the Premier League this summer £189 million has been spent while only £37 million has been recouped by English clubs – meaning the top tier of English football has so far made a net loss of £151 million.
So far business in England has been a little slow compared to previous windows; last time round clubs splashed over half a billion in transfer fees in order to boost their prospects going into the 2011/12 season – with just over a month to go until the window snaps shut the 20 Premier League clubs have some way to go before they match the astonishing £820 million spent in the summer of 2007. What can be assured though is that Premier League spending will eclipse all others – the most business in terms of accumulative transfer fees has been done on these shores every year since 2003.
Despite that Italy lead the way in the spending charts this summer at the moment, with Serie A clubs spending a huge £205 million on 409 players to date – although the biggest deal thus far has been Eduardo Vargas’s £10 million switch to Napoli. AC Milan's current financial troubles may be impacting up on that.
The fact that Italian clubs have recouped a massive £222 million, which represents a £17 million profit on players, gives weight to the claims that Serie A is currently in the midst of a major talent drain – the potential arrivals of Kaka and Carlos Tevez at Milan could all change that however.
All is quiet on the Spanish front it seems so far this summer, especially when it comes to the two traditional heavyweights of the transfer market, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Just £49 million in total has been spent by Spanish clubs with Real Madrid and Barcelona currently having spent a combined total of £12 million – and that was covered entirely by Jordi Alba’s switch from Valencia to Barca.
The general trend this summer appears to be one of prudence, at least when it comes to most clubs; new money being pumped into a handful of teams displaying scant regard for the current economical crisis and Financial Fair Play shows there are two very different approaches to the market.
The rumour mill is in overdrive and plenty of deals have been done but the big money moves of the past appear to be off the agenda for now, that is, unless you are Paris Saint-Germain or Chelsea; even Manchester City have changed their ways and are yet to spend a penny. One thing is certain - there is a huge divide opening up between the few clubs with extraordinary spending power thanks to their super-rich owners and those trying to do it the 'proper', cheaper way.
Plenty of the Premier League clubs at the sharp end of the table are expected to do more business before August 31; Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto di Matteo, Andre Villas-Boas, Brendan Rodgers and Arsene Wenger have all spoken of their desire to spend in the next couple of months – just don’t expect many of the huge deals doing the rounds in gossip columns up and down the land to go through.