There are not many times in modern football when you think that players are paid what they are worth. In this day and age, where transfer fees resemble a blue whale in comparison to the sardines that everybody else is paid, maybe Sir Alex Ferguson was right when he said that there was no value in the transfer market.
But, time and again, there is proof that, if you look search hard enough, you are bound to strike gold. Last year, when Swansea purchased Michu for £2m from Rayo Vallecano, not many would have predicted what happened next. After scoring a goal every two games, Michu was one of the hottest properties in the Premier League, right until the moment he decided to sign a four-year contract in January.
This year, there seems to be one player from La Liga making all the headlines, not just for his ability but also for the amount he was bought for. How much you ask? The whopping sum of €1.20 - not millions or billions, but just one euro and 20 cents.
Cedric Mabwati isn’t a name that is likely to have rung bells to anyone but the most ardent Numancia fans before the start of this year. He was after all, a 'nobody' in footballing terms, a Congolese international who moved to Spain and joined Atlético Madrid's youth system at the tender age of just 13.
Only three years later he made his senior debut and went on to spend two full seasons with the B team in the Third Division.
Cedric was then loaned out to Numancia during the 2010/11 season, before he even turned 18. After the loan spell ended, he made his deal permanent and went onto become a regular fixture in the Numancia line up and his blistering pace was no match for those around him.
In just his first season at the club, the pacy winger scored nine goals and went onto play a starring role in the club’s otherwise listless season. It was here that things got a little interesting.
When Mabwati re-signed with Numancia, he inserted a clause which stated that if any La Liga teams offered him a trial he could leave for free. Numancia were forced to accept it because they realised that it was the only way he'd agree to sign with them for another season.
When Real Betis came in and offered him a chance to play in La Liga, he was free to go. The €1.20 was nothing but VAT, required to buy him out of his contract. So, Betis managed to get the player for free.
And on his debut for Betis, Mabwati came on to the grandest stage of them all, at the Bernabéu against Real Madrid on 18 August 2013. Things don’t get much bigger than that and to his credit, without being in awe of the occasion, Cedric was instrumental as Betis almost snatched a point. He also provided the first assist for his new club and gave Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal all sorts of problems.
If Cedric continues his Betis career the way he has started it, he will surely be worth a whole lot more than €1.20.
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