Football

Christian Benteke's £32.5m move makes it impossible to determine player valuations

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Christian Benteke completed a big money move to Liverpool this summer and brought a total for Belgian transfers in the Premier League to a whopping £250million, signing a long-term contract for a fee of £32.5m, a figure that has caught the eye of a few.

Many fans out there were shocked by the price tag and felt, as has become typical of Premier League spending, it was a tad over the top.

Comparisons were made with that of Ronaldinho's move to Barcelona in the sense that ten years ago that same amount of money could have bought you Brazil's most exciting player ever and that inflation in football has finally come a head.

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Today's transfer market

This is in no way a jibe at Benteke, who is a very young, strong and ambitious striker experienced in brushing shoulders with the top scorers in the Premier League for the past three seasons. So bearing in mind he also played for Aston Villa, it's not - in today's market at least - a necessarily big price to pay for a proven league goalscorer. 

However that's the problem, it's today's market. Prices often inflate, that's just how the world works, and football is no different. However, rarely do we see such rapid changes in value than what we do in football, and in particular the elite leagues across Europe.

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For me, there's been a collective of transfer deals that have finally ensured the collapse of the whole system. There is no way to know the 'proper' value of a player and the deals that saw Raheem Sterling and Benteke move for a combined £80m pound odd were the straw that broke the camel's back.

Player valuations

These two moves aren't going to be the ones where we finally say: "OK, enough is enough, lets try cap the spending a bit and maybe drive the value price down, because frankly it's getting ridiculous." They're just another brick in the wall. 

If that was going to happen it would have come when the finely tuned athletic machine that is Cristiano Ronaldo made his move to Real Madrid for a whopping £67m, or the prodigy Gareth Bale moved to the same city for £80m.

Perhaps when PSG splashed out a combined £50m for Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or when Manchester United broke the English transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria last summer, or when Chelsea spent £50m on Torres... You get the point.

The valuation of footballers has fluctuated at ridiculous rates over the past five years and it has gotten to the stage that even a player's form isn't exactly a reliable factor in his transfer tag. It's impossible therefore to know if anyone is getting value for money.

Who benefits?

Looking at the big moves over the years, it's obvious that signings like Andy Carroll for Liverpool or even Bale for Real have all had their own benefits to each party. 

For example, Aston Villa will surely benefit from the big fee they're getting for Benteke, just as Spurs did from the Bale sale, bringing in a flurry of signings to try and fill the void. However, it's safe to assume it's not simply the squad that benefits from inflated transfer fees.

When Real broke the transfer record they set themselves for Bale, it was clear that the money they spent would be quickly recouped, which is partly their justification for spending so much on the Welshman in the first place.

Shirt sales, merchandise and TV deals are all factors to be considered when buying a new product such as Bale, who was ultimately worth it when he won the Champions League in his first season, scoring the decisive goal in the final.

However, the impact varies from club to club. The smaller ones who quite simply need the money to survive differ from those on a different scale who use massive support networks and marketing to claw back big transfer fees. In that sense, it's swings and roundabouts, and is in some way the justification for big transfer fees.

What next?

No doubt that when Trevor Francis became the first £1m player in England that there were calls for money in football to be more carefully monitored and no doubt he was labelled overpriced. Yet it's never stopped the steam train of the transfer market increasingly hiking the prices of footballers, and who knows when it will come to a point where the money is completely worthless.

It's a gradual thing, the increasing prices each year. Just an indicator that there is more and more money in football and that the Financial Fair Play system is completely obsolete. Naturally the implications down the line could be a lot more dangerous than we even realise.

Smaller clubs are being robbed of their best players, grass roots football is dying because there is always the money to bring in someone abroad. 

Lower league teams are the real sufferers of an inflated market, not having enough to pay big transfer or wage fees, not being able to nurture their own talent. More and more often do teams slip into administration, and the transfer market is part of that problem.

Vicious cycle

Again, this may all be a cycle, repeating itself in football as the call for more nurturing and club loyalty becomes more important for some players. However, like before, it's clear that every man has their price and with more money in football it's not difficult to see how loyalty is easily bought.

Transfers like that of Fabian Delph and even Sterling show that loyalty in football is a thing of the past, and, although both cite personal development, the English pound had a lot more influence in their decision than we will probably ever know.

The transfer market goes to show every year that money is much more important than football, and at a rapid pace it's starting to show that the transfer period is the most important part of the game.

Football fans, do you agree? Should there be a cap placed on spending in the market? Let us know in the comments box below.

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Topics:
Transfer News
Christian Benteke
Liverpool
Premier League
Football

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