What sort of price-tag can be placed on the head of a world-class footballer in the modern game? £80million? £90million?
Of course it’s an unanswerable question; the figure fluctuates on an annual basis and seems to increase year by year as clubs become increasingly determined to get the absolute maximum for their prized assets. It’s why there weren’t too many eyebrows raised when Luke Shaw was sold to Manchester United last month for over £30million - he’s not world-class, we know - and why the news of Luis Suarez moving to Barcelona for £76million will come as little shock if indeed it does go through.
That’s why it’s surprising when clubs balk at paying large sums for the very best players around when they evidently have the money to comfortably afford it. Supposedly Manchester United refuse out of principle to pay over the odds for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, whereas Chelsea won’t break the bank to land Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala… you get the gist.
Getting to round the focal point of this piece, neither can afford to pass up the chance to land Sami Khedira in the wake of Real Madrid’s most recent demands being made public.
Whereas at one point the German midfielder was said to be available for a poultry €20million, Carlo Ancelotti appears to have come to his senses and today’s edition of Spanish publication Marca claims that the Italian has now resolved to double that figure. Put simply, any clubs wanting Khedira’s services are going to have to outlay at least €40million to acquire them.
Despite having already seemingly beaten United and Chelsea to the signing of Toni Kroos, Los Blancos remain determined to boast the deepest vat of midfield talent in Europe, and Khedira, though just one of a host of defensive midfielders on the books at the Santiago Bernabeu, isn’t deemed an expendable talent.
Far from being put off by the new amount suggested, Louis van Gaal must surely realise that Khedira is still worth €40million? Though the deal may not be nearly as appetising as the prospect of landing him for half that figure, the Madrid anchor remains perhaps the best natural defensive midfielder in the world, and he would most certainly complement the attacking traits of Ander Herrera.
That, in a nutshell is why Van Gaal should be more than ready to pay big to land him. Getting the best out of Herrera, and therefore dramatically strengthening United’s midfield area, leaves the club with the best possible shot at ensuring next season is far more prosperous than the last. €40million might be a hefty price for a player who spent much of the 2013/14 campaign being nursed through injury, but Van Gaal has plenty of money left to play with and in Khedira he has a certified world-class ball-winner.
Competition from Chelsea
Much in the same way as United, Chelsea are looking for one more piece to form a perfect midfield puzzle. Whilst Jose Mourinho no doubt sees Paul Pogba as the ideal candidate to complete his triarch which currently consists of Francesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, Khedira is likely to be around €20million cheaper, and possibly more suited to the task at hand given the fact that Chelsea already have a surplus of attacking talents.
For the Blues the ex-Bundesliga star could spend his time playing in his preferred role literally just in front of the back four, and a partnership alongside Matic would make Mourinho’s defensive unit incredibly water-tight from the outside looking in.
Once again one would assume that Roman Abramovich has money lying around to spend on players who would increase Chelsea’s chances of success, and Khedira - particularly given the fact that The Special One has a heightened understanding of his game - would duly do just that.
Though it’s often said that clubs pay far too much for average talent in today’s climate; a point driven home on an annual basis, sometimes it truly is in the best interests of certain managers to bite the bullet and simply cough up what they’re asked for. When it comes to Khedira, wouldn’t both Van Gaal and Mourinho inevitably be making a mistake if they chose to turn their backs?
Chelsea and United fans, let us know what you think in the comments box below...