- In football there’s going to be a very big crash, very soon.
- According to the media we’re going back to the early days of the century
By Tony Attwood
With all the talk of Saudi Arabia I was wondering just which clubs had “lost” players to the middle east megagorgon. I think this is a fairly comprehensive list. It shows Chelsea and Liverpool have each lost three players.
- Edouard Mendy: Signed from Chelsea for €18.5 million
- N’Golo Kante: Joined on a free transfer after his contract expired with Chelsea
- Kalidou Koulibaly: Signed from Chelsea for €23 million
- Fabinho: Signed from Liverpool for €46.7 million
- Roberto Firmino: Joined on a free transfer after his contract expired with Liverpool
- Jordan Henderson: Signed from Liverpool for €14 million
- Riyad Mahrez: Signed from Manchester City for €35 million
- Alex Telles: Signed from Manchester United for €7 million
- Allan Saint-Maximin: Signed from Newcastle United for €27.2 million
- Ruben Neves: Signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers for €55 million
I guess in many cases these players are men who the club don’t mind losing, especially if the Saudi Arabian sides are paying over the odds, but even so, it seems like a certain level of disruption, and of course the window remains open for quite another few weeks.
I don’t have the figures for Italian clubs but I guess if they are selling at a similar rate maybe they will be heaving themselves out of their combined debt crises. And it was interesting to read in the Independent that Aaron Ramsey says the riches of the Saudi Pro League could not compete with his “priceless” return to Cardiff.
Apparently, he was offered a place in one of the newly created teams but according to reports he, “put family first and returned to hometown club Cardiff, where he made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in April 2007 to break John Toshack’s record as the Bluebirds’ youngest-ever player.”
He played 262 games for Arsenal between 2008 and 2019 and then went to Juventus where it seems things didn’t work out too well, although he got 49 games in three years before going to Nice for a year and then moving back to Cardiff.
He is reported as saying about the Saudi league, “There was an offer and there’s plenty of benefits to that offer over there, but for me, it wasn’t the right time or the right thing to do for me, my career and for my family.
“It can be very appealing and probably depends on a lot of things, on what you’ve done financially, if you’re secure or not and things like that. For another individual, it might be life-changing, but for me, being around my family and things like that is priceless. So you couldn’t put a figure on that.”
Anyway it is now being estimated that the spending on players for the new Saudi league has already hit over £3.5billion.
In fact, this is the third time Ramsey has been at Cardiff. He started there before coming to Arsenal and then had a loan back in 2011 as part of his rehab from a very serious injury. Now he is there for a third time and expecting to play at Leeds this coming weekend.
That in itself is an interesting development because as I understood things Cardiff are under a transfer embargo – but that may be one of those where they can take on a free agent but not sign anyone for cash.
According to the BBC Cardiff City, “will be allowed to pay fees for players in the January 2024 window” following an appeal as a result of which the length of the embargo was reduced.
It appears that all of this came about because Cardiff defaulted on a payment of the transfer fee for the late Emiliano Sala. Fan Banter state that “EFL rules state that a club who default on a payment for a transfer fee would not be able to make a payment for a player registration until the end of the following season, however Cardiff have paid the first installment of the Sala fee to Nantes, plus interest and are now being forced to pay the rest.”
The case was reviewed by an independent disciplinary commission which found that although Cardiff had been late with a transfer payment and should therefore be sanctioned, there were exceptional circumstances which needed to be considered.
In this case, when the matter went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Cardiff claimed they weren’t liable for any of the fee because Sala wasn’t officially their player at the time of his death at the age of 28.
The whole case was very mysterious as Emiliano Sala died in a plane crash. According to Sky he had become unconscious because of fumes from the private plane’s faulty exhaust system; but it was also found that the pilot did not have a licence to fly at night. Given the value of players, it has always seemed to me a very curious case, but of course, I’ve got no independent evidence. It’s just what I read in the media and hear on the radio.
- Yesterday’s game: how Arsenal won, and where the journalists got things wrong
- Brentford v Arsenal: past exploits and the Arsenal team news
- French authorities issue arrest warrant over awarding of World Cup to Qatar
- Brentford v Arsenal: the history and the build up, with some extraordinary odds
- Brentford v Arsenal: tackles, fouls, yellow cards and the home v away record