The nature of sport means we will always value the spectacular, a home run, slam dunks, and in football, the long range screamers or mazy dribbles entertain the fans and stay engrained in our minds.
This is why we highly value the players who can provide these moments of brilliance, because at the highest level, it is rare someone can constantly deliver such moments.
And while an appreciation of the spectacular is understandable, it seems there is an over valuation of attacking players in the game today.
While goalscoring is important, scoring a goal does not guarantee your side points, not conceding a goal does however. We often call prolific strikers match winners, but how often do you hear such a statement said about a defender?
A reason for this biased towards attackers is down to the visibility of their end product, if a striker scores a match winning goal, we notice this straight away, if a defenders positional sense cuts out two through balls to prevent goals, this intervention is not as noticeable, thus there seems to be a negative valuation on the ability of players that do their best work in a less prominent fashion, even though the result of their actions still help their team to victory.
The likelihood that Real Madrid would pay £90 million for a defensive full back, or defensive midfielder is unlikely with the way players are valued in the modern game. While Sergio Busquets is calm and collected on the ball, no one will ever try to break a world record to sign him.
Valuation of players should focus on the fundamentals of the game, pass completion rate, goalscoring, ground covered, and will his style of play fit into the teams tactical make-up. These simple statistics will always be overshadowed by a player who can hit long range free kicks, or has searing pace, remind you of a certain Welshman?
Not that Gareth Bale is not a wonderful player, but I believe the spectacular nature of his attacking game has led to his over valuation as a player. Everyone remembers his destruction of Maicon against Inter Milan a few years ago, but that does not happen every game, and if he hits a slump in form, which is sure to occur given his brilliance in the last year, are the other aspects of his game good enough for him to retain his place in the starting line-up?
There are obviously players that combine the fundamentals with their brilliance. Messi and Ronaldo are assured on the ball, and will fit into any teams style of play. However there are some occasions, when flashes of attacking brilliance overshadow the flaws in a players game.
Think of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's move to Barcelona that failed due to his inability to fit into Pep Guardiola's style of play, obviously the Swede had huge amounts of talent, but he was lazy, would not press like his teammates, he didn't move to help the team attacking, he only made runs for his own benefit, he was greedy, and his penchant for the extravagant moment of footballing brilliance could not even mask his other deficiencies.
So the rise in transfer fees in the modern game, may possibly be attributed to flaws in how we value players. This maybe why we so many big money signings flop, because we are drawn to the spectacular.
Chelsea noticed Fernando Torres goalscoring excellence with Liverpool, but they failed to notice his decline in form and increasing injury problems. When clubs sign players, they must look beyond the highlight reel, and study the cold hard facts about who they sign, if the likes of Gareth Bale and Neymar truly are worth the money. It should be based of the consistency of their play, not the flamboyancy of it.
Think of Borussia Dortmund's excellent buys in the transfer market in recent years, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, not well known at the time, but Dortmund saw potential, and how they would suit their style of play, now they are household names worth triple the money they were signed for.
If this type of economic shrewdness is used by more clubs in the future, then maybe the exorbitant fees we see in todays game will decline, so that the destination of trophies will be dictated by what happens on the field, and not the financial power present in the boardrooms of elite clubs.
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