By Tony Attwood
You’ll know by now that it’s my view that the notion that you have to buy players to make a success of a club is thoroughly misleading. But still the bloggettas and their friends in the media love to hype up purchasing as the route to success.
How much evidence they want to show that this is gibberish is not clear, but some Chelsea supporters have got the idea that not all purchases are good, no matter what the cost.
Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbregas were booed by the blues today. One banner, highlighted on Sky this afternoon called Fàbregas, Costa and Eden Hazard as “the three rats”. Certainly if Fàbregas had ever played for us in the way he has played for Chelsea this season there would be consternation. I just wonder if, in future games, if any of those three are played by Chelsea the supporters of the opposition will cheer them. Personally I’d be quite happy to cheer Fàbregas when we play Chelsea because I think he’s done us a great service in the way he’s played for Chelsea of late.
Anyway, it’s the time of year when journalists go back and reflect – and football journalists can go back in particular and reflect on the quality revealed by the players who transferred into each club.
And that’s what they have been doing. Generally they are not quoting the figures that suggest only one in four transferred players actually are a success in their first season, but their figures do seem to express this view.
With Arsenal the matter is simple: total expenditure £10m, one player in, Petr Cech, a huge success.
Chelsea spent £69.3m including Pedro Rodríguez for £21.1m, and Baba Rahman for £21.5m. Oh yes and Radamel Falcao who is currently injured.
Crystal Palace spent £21.5m and got Yohan Cabaye for £12m and that like the signing of Cech was good business.
Everton spent £20.2m and they got Gerard Deulofeu for £4 but Barcelona can take him back and probably will. So a good deal for this year, but maybe not for the next.
Leicester City spent £17.6m and their league position suggests they got it right with N’Golo Kanté for £5.6m.
Liverpool! of course always spend big – £78.4m this summer. Nathaniel Clyne for £12.5m looks good but Roberto Firmino £29.5m, and Christian Benteke £32.5m, don’t come into that category.
Manchester City will always spend more than anyone; that is the terms of their approach. It was £155m this season and they are not running away with the league – which they should be doing if payment for players equated with success. Raheem Sterling may or may not be worth £49m, Patrick Roberts perhaps was not worth £11m
So what of Man U who seem to be slipping? The spent £112m. Was Morgan Schneiderlin worth £24m? Memphis Depay £25m? Schweinsteiger £14.4m… with their list you can keep going.
Newcastle United have been trying to buy their way out of trouble for some time, and this summer it was £48.8m Georginio Wijnaldum was probably worth £14.5m. But Florian Thauvin for £13m? Don’t really think so.
Norwich City spent £7m on Robbie Brady, and that looks a good deal.
Southampton who have been known to make a profit in transfer windows spent £35.2m. Van Dijk for £11m seems good but I am not sure that any of their lower cost players are shining.
Stoke City splashed out £20.4m mostly on Xherdan Shaqiri who has looked better of late. But they have showed that a free transfer can be worthwhile – take a look at Glen Johnson who came on a free.
Sunderland paid out £23.5m and the best deal is the loan of M’Vila. But reports of Fabio Borini £8m are not so good.
Swansea City spent £8.7m. Ayew was a good free transfer and a better deal than Éder or Tabanou who cost real live money.
Tottenham Hotspur, the other club known for making a profit on their transfers, spent £56.2m and much though it hurts to say it Dele Alli for £5m looks a bargain. Not so sure that Clinton Njie who cost twice as much is twice as good.
Watford put £13.1m on the table according to reports, but it is hard to say since they got to great lengths not to disclose any costs – not least because of the occasional inter-trading between the co-owned clubs in the group. But they got a bargain with Étienne Capoue. There were lots of others, and I begin to wonder about who some of them are and what they do.
West Bromwich Albion paid out £29m. Salomón Rondón looks ok at £12m, but James Chester at £8m doesn’t. However the case of , Serge Gnabry reminds us of how odd the whole process of football is. He was terrific for Arsenal the season before last, injured last season, and now criticised endlessly by the Pulis character. What has happened?
West Ham United spent £35m, money they can readily afford since they don’t have to pay for their stadium. Dimitri Payet for £11m looks very good. but Antonio for £7m doesn’t. But the case of Carl Jenkinson reminds us again of the dangers of the loan system. He’s not playing now, but looked great last season. Is his career being destroyed through a prolonged loan spell?
So what does all this tell us?
Arsenal by buying just one player, is the only club to get it right. All the others had multiple players seem to have got some buys right some wrong. One or two very right, one or two very wrong.
Of course we’ve only seen players for half a season, and players can come good in year two, but the issue that is always discussed is, “We have this problem now, so buy a player.” My answer is still the same – both from the examination of the figures from the Tomkins Times that we reported before which suggested only 25% of high cost players made it in a year, and from this very simple review.
Buying a player who has been good for another club last year, for a fair amount of dosh, is no guarantee that he will generate the performances needed straight away. The rough figures were:
- 25% of high price players do come good in year one
- 50% of high price players come good in later years
- 25% of high price players never come good, and look like a total waste of money.
And of course, as with Bournemouth, new players can get injured straight off.
Final note – the figures here are roughly the amount of actual expenditure. Different newspapers report different amounts. Further the occasional league table to expenditure we have printed show the amount paid out minus the amount received for players sold. Hence the difference.