Written by Rhys Paul
We are now firmly in the midst of the 2016 summer transfer window and there have already been several high profile moves. Mario Gotze most recently completed his return to Borussia Dortmund for £18.3 million (plus add-ons) and it is a move which has the potential to be one the signings of the window. From a British perspective, the fee involved seems too good to be true. We live in an age where £30 million signings are no longer as eye-catching and big as they once were. Thanks to lucrative TV deals, these signings are no longer restricted to just the likes of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, meaning the market is more competitive than it has ever been. The downside to this, unfortunately, is that some owners now possess more money than sense and this has seen player’s values skyrocket over the last few years with clubs willing to pay ridiculous sums to sometimes bring in average players. There have already been a number of these deals made in the first month of this transfer window, but it is also worth noting that there have also been some very shrewd deals completed in the same period. I’ll be looking at some of the worst value-for-money signings that have already been completed as well as some others that are yet to be completed or have been rumoured, but whose fee will be nothing short of hyper-inflationary.
Paul Pogba (£100 million) – Juventus to Manchester United [Fee yet to be agreed]
Pogba is widely expected to re-join the club he left for free in 2012. No fee has yet been agreed between Juventus and Man United and it appears the latter are still trying to sign the central midfielder for less than the £100 million valuation. The latest offer is rumoured to be £92m, but add-ons would take the fee beyond the £100 million barrier. Any agreement reached would see Pogba become the most expensive player in history, but is he really deserving of that title? There is no denying how far he has developed and at only 23 years old, it would appear that he can only get better. Physically he is the complete midfielder and his ability on the ball goes without saying, plus United do lack somebody with Pogba’s presence in their midfield. But for £100 million? He hardly set Euro 2016 alight and the fee itself is one that should only be reserved for the best player in the world (which Pogba is certainly not).
Georginio Wijnaldum (£25 million) – Newcastle to Liverpool [Completed]
On the surface, it is easy to see Wijnaldum as one of the better players in Newcastle’s ill-fated campaign last season. 11 goals in his debut season saw him finish as the club’s top scorer, but it was not enough to prevent relegation. This in itself puts the move to Liverpool into perspective; £25 million for a Championship player. Such a fee for a player belonging to a club in the second tier of English football would have been unheard of a few years ago. Relegation traditionally saw players move on the cheap, but teams are no longer in a position where they have to sell for financial purposes. Remarkably, Wijnaldum’s fee has increased with relegation – having only signed for £14.5 million a year ago. He was a big player at PSV, but the indifference his move to Liverpool has been met with by the Toon army speaks volumes.
John Stones (£50 million) – Everton to Manchester City [Fee yet to be agreed]
Stones continues to be the perfect example of how being young and English significantly increases your value. There were eyebrows raised last summer when Stones was on the verge of a £30 million move to Chelsea and his performances last season hardly justify an extra £20 million onto that price tag. Stones has enormous potential, but such a high-profile and expensive move could have a negative impact on his development. He needs to cut the naive mistakes from his game before such a fee can be a realistic reflection of his talents. The player is apparently keen on a move to the Etihad, but it would not be surprising to see Stones in an Everton shirt once again next season.
Hulk (£46.1 million) – Zenit St Petersburg to Shanghai SIPG [Completed]
No list of overpriced deals would be complete without at least one to the Chinese Super League. Brazilian forward, Hulk is the latest to make a high-profile move; one that is (at the moment) the Asian transfer record. The Chinese league is a serial offender when it comes to over-paying for players and their willingness to just throw money about will surely result in bankruptcy somewhere down the line. Such an approach is simply not sustainable. Hulk is a good player, but he is over-hyped as a player and his moves to Zenit and Shanghai SIPG appear more money-driven than anything. Wages of 320,000 a week also help Hulk onto this list as he reportedly earns more than arguably the best striker in the world, Luis Suarez.
Sadio Mane (£34 million) – Southampton to Liverpool [Completed]
Mane became the latest Southampton player to make the switch to Anfield. Mane has been an important figure in the success Southampton have enjoyed over the last couple of seasons. 21 goals in two seasons at St Mary’s is respectable and last season he finished as the club’s top scorer in all competitions. However, he also endured a frustrating and uneventful spell at the beginning of 2016 added to the fact he can disappear in some games. He’s proven himself as a Premier League player since his £11.8 million move to the south coast, but like others on this list, his rise in value has been inflationary and highlights just how much money Premier League club’s have at their disposal.
What has been the most extortionate deal of the summer so far? Let us know in the comments below!