The value of each squad, the transfer fee oddities and multiple loans.

By Tony Attwood

To some people all Arsenal did in the transfer window was bought Krystian Bielik and Gabriel Paulista.  Maybe – but what is the result?

According to it means we have a squad that is worth £343.02m.

Some players have increased in value since we bought them (Ospina is now worth £6.16m apparently, Koscielny, £17.6m), and some look a little undervalued (Bellerin is shown as £440,000, Coquelin at £2.64m).  On the other hand  Flamini is shown as £7.04m and Arteta at £5.28m which may be the wrong way round, but might reflect current injury status.

At the upper end Wilshere is £26.4m, Ramsey £21.12m, Ozil £36.9m, Santi £22.88m, Alexis £33,44m, Theo £24,64m.

As you can see from this snippet the value of players is a topic open for debate, and I suspect most of us would up the value of some and decrease that of others.

But using the same source to look at the teams near the top of the Premier League this week we find these results for total squad values…

  1. Manchester U £407m
  2. Chelsea £387.42m
  3. Manchester C £381.3m
  4. Arsenal £343.02m
  5. Liverpool £286.88m
  6. Tottenham £162.48m
  7. Southampton £140.62m

Of course one of the problems for Arsenal is the low value put on relatively untested players like Bellerin £440,000 and Coquelin at £2.64m.  Bielik has no value at all.

The Independent gave us a list of transfers and a verdict:

VERDICT: Got the extra defender that was so desperately needed but failed to bring in a holding midfielder, although the emergence of Francis Coquelin is encouraging. Arsene Wenger allowed three forwards to leave and Arsenal now appear quite light in that department. 7/10

And here is the season summary

Krystian Bielik Legia Warsaw Undisclosed
Calum Chambers Southampton Undisclosed
Mathieu Debuchy Newcastle United £12.0m
David Ospina Nice Undisclosed
Gabriel Paulista Villarreal £14.0m
Alexis Sanchez Barcelona £35.0m
Danny Welbeck Manchester United £16.0m

As for forwards, we have Giroud, Welbeck, the injured Gnabry, Theo, Alexis, plus the option of playing Ozil or Santi Cazorla as one of three nominal forwards.   I don’t think any other established player would come here seeing that forward line, and we also have Akpom who Mr Wenger clearly has confidence in (and he has a certain knowledge in such matters I feel).

But there’s one other issue that has been raised of late in transfers.  How come Chelsea get such large amounts when they sell a player?

I guess correspondents were thinking of Lukaku for £28m and Schurrle for £22m following on from last season’s Luiz £40m, Mata £37m, and de Bruyne £18m.

Two of these transfers were to Wolfsburg who are paid for by VW, so have the money – as presumably do the other clubs, but yes, it does look suspicious.

Of course when we talk about suspicions vis a vis referees we have mountains of evidence in terms of ref decisions and supporting information about the strange and suspicious behaviour by the ref organisation PGMO.  But with transfers, it is harder to get any data beyond the transfer figures.

The simplest explanation is that nothing is amiss.  The simplest explanation incorporating something being wrong is that Chelsea need to sell at high prices to balance their FFP books, because they also spend a lot on transfers in.  Maybe (no evidence, just a thought) they are declaring income much higher than they get, from clubs who either have no FFP problem or who are then hiding the money elsewhere.  Maybe they are not getting these amounts at all, and it is all hype – after all a company like Chelsea’s owned by one man doesn’t have to reveal such details to the likes of you and me).

But this does look a murky area, not least because of the way transfer funding works.   A player’s value in the table I used at the start is based on what he might be sold for – it is all supposition.  But a player’s value on the accounts of a club declines through his contract against the amount paid for him.  So, buy a player for £40 and give him a four year contract then his cost in FFP terms declines by £10m a year.   (The salary still shows up on FFP charts, but not the cost of the transfer).

So keep a £40m player for two years and then sell him for £25m and the club is showing a £5m profit on the transfer in that year of the sale – for they have sold a £20m player for £25m.   Monaco exploited this by buying in such players, loaning them out so they didn’t have the salary cost, and then selling them at an FFP profit (although of course they have lost money in real terms – but when the club is owned by a billionaire, that is fairly meaningless).

This is not unique to football.  In any company if you buy a computer for £1000 it is written off in the company’s accounts at 25% a year.  So if after two years you sell it to another firm for £600 you have made £100 profit.

I don’t know if this helps Chelsea’s FFP position – I’d need an accountant to do the sums and check my understanding of the system, but I put it forwards as one of the oddities of the whole system..

And there is another point.  Back in 2013/14 Chelsea also had 24 players out on loan, which also odd.

Of course I don’t say that Chelsea are messing with the system, and I also admit that if they are, I don’t quite understand what is going on, except in the notion that if you have large numbers of emerging players on your books and then loaning them out helps as

a) you are stopping other clubs getting them

b) you can cherry pick the best of the bunch and let the rest go.

If anyone can decipher all this with facts and sources, then please do write an article for Untold which I will be pleased to publish.

Anniversary of the day

  • 4 February 1993 Martin Keown rejoined Arsenal for £2.2 million – over £2m more than they sold him for, but this time stayed for over 10 years – and enjoyed huge success in the Wenger era.


The books



33 Replies to “The value of each squad, the transfer fee oddities and multiple loans.”

  1. The Luiz transfer for 40M still makes me raise my eyebrows. That was so outrageous…. for a defender….

  2. I’m convinced that Chelsea are accepting payments for players over a longer term than normal. That is the only way to explain the huge fees they have received for players recently. (unless they cooked the books!)
    Nothing wrong with selling to buy either – but its mind boggling that its being lauded in the media, despite being obviously unsustainable at that level.
    Whisper it, but it actually highlights Chelsea’s smallness as a club – they simply do not have the fanbase or stadium to generate the income they need.

  3. The problem is, usually we’re only given a “reported fee”. Most transfers seem to go through as “Undisclosed Fee”. Only that bastion of good governance and transparency FIFA could get a real handle on what’s actually happening with transfers.

  4. Another factor may be that the fee being paid may include what the player is going to get in wages across the period of his contract. Indeed those wages may also be being subsidised by the selling club.
    One report yesterday said that Spurs were so anxious to get rid of Adebayor (as Man City were before) that they were willing, presumably via some other route, to contribute to his salary at the buying club.
    As long as there is a degree of transparency over time them these things emerge in some way or other in future balance sheets. But FFP is very time sensitive and getting away with it this year may just be kicking the can down the road and hoping that another deal can be done next year to kick it a bit further.
    It all relies on a rising (or at least stable) market and the bringing through of youngsters.
    Now who is particularly good at that?

  5. You’re onto something in terms of mitigating the short term effects of FFP. Chelsea had a playing staff of 69 in 2011 which grew to 95 in 2013. It had dropped to 89 in 2014 – a year in which they finally showed a significant profit due to player sales. It will sustain them for a season or two more but there’re grounds for Uefa to look into some of these deals to see whether there’s any background support for the prices paid. There may well not be but the opportunity exists.

  6. I looked at squad values a couple of months ago – Real Mad were £606m, Barcelona £546, Bayern £500, United £406, Chelsea £391, City £388, Arsenal £361, Liverpool £292.

    Changes likely to be due to players moving during the transfer window, Campbell £6.6, Sanogo £1.8 and Podolski £17.6m. Paulista is listed at £7m and Bielik as yet has no value listed.

    Our highest listed player is Ozil at £39.6, Alexis is at £33.4, no-one else is above £30m

    For Real, Ronaldo is listed at £105m, Bale £70, Rodriguez £52.8, Modric £28.4, Ramos, Kroos and Benzema all at £39.6, and Isco at £30.8 – 8 players at £30m plus

    Barca have Messi £106m, Neymar £61.6m, Suarez £52.8 Iniesta £39.6, Busquets at £35.2 and Pique at £30.8 – 6 players at £30m plus

    Bayern have Muller at £44.0, Gotze at £42.2 at the top end of the scale and a further 5 players at £30m plus – 7 in total.

    There is some way for Arsenal to go to match the player riches of the European Big Three.

  7. I think Transfermarkt adjust their prices twice a season, or perhaps once in the off season, I can’t remember, which explains the low values for Coquelin, Bellerin etc. A sensible policy if you ask me. They adjust the value accordingly after a transfer is done, and then they tend to make small adjustments thereafter. That explains why, for example, Wilshere is valued higher than Ramsey (they are slow to adjust values). It also skews values when a club over-pays for a player, which is probably the case for Man U. As for Flamini and Arteta, that is most likely explained by Arteta being two years older. A while ago they did an analysis showing that their values are fairly accurate, not for individual players maybe, but overall.

    The Independent is idiotic as asual. First they bash us for having too many forwards and not enough defenders, now they bash us for the exact opposite without bothering to check the facts first. The three forwards we loaned out had hardly been used, and we still had Walcott, Gnabry and Ozil out with long term injuries, so we are more than well stocked in that department. You also forget Rosicky who is equally happy on the wing or in the middle. The price they list for Gabriel is a bit high, also.

    And if they think we’re light up top, I wonder what they make of their beloved Chelsea, with only three wingers, Hazard, Willian and Cuadrado. The whole Schurrle business has left me fuming. What a talented player, two-footed, quick, works hard, has an eye for scoring, and they toss him aside after letting him rot on the bench because they can get a shiny new toy in Cuadrado. That’s just how they treated players like De Bruyne, who’s now a star of the Bundesliga. The £22m they paid for Schurrle seems like a good deal for Wolfsburg if you ask me.

    The price for Mata is a bit high, but can be explained by the fact that Man U were desperate, as has been usual since Sir Alex left, and Mata was one of the best number 10s in the league at the time (no longer, perhaps), up there with Silva and Cazorla.

    They did however get
    £30m for Lukaku (Everton are still desperate for another striker)
    £40m for Luiz, which is a dodgy deal if ever there was one
    £12m for Ryan Bertrand, who just moved to Southampton permanently after rotting on Chelsea’s bench.
    £20m for De Bruyne, a very good player, as it turns out, but was it justified at the time?

    Out on loan they currently have Salah, Thorgan Hazard, van Ginkel, Victor Moses, Marko Marin, Piazon, Romeu, Kalas, Todd Kane, Omeruo, Davila, Bamford, Davey, Swift, Wallace, Kiwomya, Baker, Chalobah, Pasalic, McEachran, Kakuta, Perica, and Atsu.

    Read it and weep. I count 23 players out on loan. This is certainly an abuse of the loan system, the point of which is to allow clubs to develop young players by giving them regualr playing time they would not get at their parent club, so they can eventually integrate back into the club. Chelsea uses the loan system to hoard talented young players, which they can do because they have the money to out-bid and offer higher salaries than the clubs such players would normally go to. Then they farm these youngers out, with no intention of keeping them in the future. They do this the player’s value rises, all at the expense of the loaning club and no expense to Chelsea, who then sell the player for a profit. This is exactly what they did with De Bruyne, Bertrand, Lukaku, etc.

    Some of the players they are currently loaning out are good enough and old enough to be playing regularly for good, but smaller, clubs, such as Salah, Hazard, van Ginkel, Moses, Marin, Piazon, etc. So instead of being a permanent player of a club like, say Munchengladbach (as Hazard is on loan there), there are on Chelsea’s books, but Chelsea does not pay for them, Chelsea doesn’t develop them, and Chelsea has no interest in keeping the player long term. They are simply waiting for the right time to sell. The normal way would be for a player like Thorgan Harzard to be a player for Munchengladbach from a young age, perhaps go out on loan, and then become integrated into the first team, and perhaps sold later on for a good profit. Instead they must pay a loan fee for him, and then a relatively large transfer fee back to the oil-rich Chelsea.

    This abuse of the loan system is hurting the smaller clubs, where these talented young players would otherwise go. But how long before FIFA or UEFA look at this? They will sit on their hands and wait 5 or 10 years, just like they did with FFP.

    Sorry for the long rant 😛

  8. I also see Aaron Lennon, the $h1t Theo Walcott, has gone to Everton. I once held Roberto Martinez in fairly high esteem, but some of his recent transfer business has been strange: Lennon, Gareth Barry, Eto’o, Atsu on loan, £30m for Lukaku (a very talented youngster, but still a lot of money, and seems to have used up all of their transfer kitty).

    This transfer business, not as easy as it looks, eh?

  9. is it possible for chelsea or their owner to first give the buying club some amount of personal money only to get that money included in any deal for the outgoing player? is this a possibility between clubs that have billionaire owners and are trying to avoid getting caught in the ffp net?

  10. With Chelsea’s track record, if you were a pretty talented young player, would you sign for them?

  11. You would think the player would know he is going to sit on the bench, get loaned out and never player for the team you signed for.

  12. Indeed you would. Probably a combination of “It won’t happen to me, I’m too good”, the wages Chelsea can offer compared to just about every other club on Earth, agents wanting their slice, and footballers’ famous brain power.

  13. Quincy – so true about the abuse of loan non system. Allows total abuse of FFP by stocking players with other teams & subsequently the player is not ‘visible’ as a cost.

  14. Been reading this thread with interest. Lots of assumptions about loans transfer fees etc most don’t stand up to scrutiny.
    In reality there is little or no merit in inflating transfer fees received as each and every transaction is subject to registration with the Authouities who in turn have access to both end of year and in year accounts and returns to HMRC. Fees are more likely to be understated.
    Another point is that when a player goes out on the loan the owning club is still responsible for the players wages . if a fee is paid then that is reflected in income, I belive player trading , FFP is adjusted but it’s important to remember that the sums paid in respect of wages is reflected in both the accounts and of course the clubs payroll and the various adjustments made for FFP do not flow through to the clubs accounts.

    The irony is that football clubs have historically been a cash industry. Clubs understated attendances and the cash was used to put money in the players boots which of course never went through the books.

    I very much doubt that transfer fees don’t reflect the sums paid quite simply it’s too easy to spot inaccuracies and far too many groups and individuals a have a vested interest in the fee . I

    I have no doubt however that clubs are creative in the remuneration packages agreed with their players using loop holes such as image rights loyalty payments etc to push matters to the extreme

  15. Ah yes, good old Mike T. Hiding an argument behind big scary words. Give yourself a pat on the back.

    Please explain how PSG managed to pay £40m for David Luiz, when they themselves were having FFP problems? And no-one accused Chel$ea of doing anything illegal with the loan system, but it is an abuse nonetheless, exactly in the way that Abramovich pumping hundreds of millions into your squad was an abuse and detrimental to all other smaller clubs, but not illegal until FFP came along (although far too late).

    Have a good day, Mike T.

  16. @ quincy

    I have no idea how Chelsea managed to get PSG pay the reported sum for Luiz it made no sense but they clearly felt it was worth it.
    As for big scary words I am not sure my posting could be accused of that but hey
    I agree the loan system is a mess but it actually isn’t designed with player development in mind it’s all about bringing players in short to medium term to help the clubs who can’t afford to employ more players
    What I find ironic is that Chelsea have either through design or by default established an income stream that supports the overall business fits within FFP and still some want to cry foul
    Chelsea rarely publish the fees paid or relceived in respect of each individual the information usually comes from the other clubs and as we know from Everton they didn’t pay the figure you state for Lukaku nor did Southampton pay the figure you quote for Bertrand even if they had Chelsea’s profit would be no where near the figures quoted

  17. Well, you seem to miss the point. What Chel$ea is doing by hoarding all those players and then loaning them out, is that they are preventing smaller clubs from owning them in the first place. And if they had owned those players in the first place, they wouldn’t need to bring them in on loan “in short to medium term to help the clubs who can’t afford to employ more players”.

    You also miss the point about the fees when a player is sold. In the current situation, Chel$ea doesn’t pay to develop a player–and let’s not dodge this point, the loanee club pays a fee for a loan, basically to cover the wages–and then profits when they sell the player, despite not paying his wages or developing him. In the normal situation, when the smaller club owns the player, they profit by selling the player, or keeping him to help the club.

    You are missing the big point that what Chel$ea is doing is hurting smaller clubs. Even though it may be perfectly legal now, that doesn’t change the fact that it is hurting football in general. As far as I am concerned, a reform of the loan system would be in keeping with such things as solidarity payments and FFP, which are, in essence, attempts to help the smaller clubs and protect them from abuse by oil-rich clubs. But I’m not holding my breath for FIFA to do anything.

    And I am well aware that most clubs do not publish transfer fees. Of course we are talking about rough figures in the press. Are you disputing that Everton paid in the region of £28m for Lukaku (rounded off to £30m, my apologies if a difference of 7% offended you), or that Southampton paid £11m or £12m for Bertrand, whose transfer fee has not been disclosed by Southampton, as far as I can tell? Of course there is the matter of whether or not those figures include the various add-ons or not, but like I said, we are talking rough figures. It’s not like Southampton paid £3m for Bertrand, or Everton paid £15m for Lukaku, is it?

  18. Quincy

    I am not missing any point. I just don’t agree with your take on things.

    For me your arguments become flawed when you state FFP is in place to help smaller clubs

    Everton have stated that the cost to them of signing Lukaku is £28 million. In that figure will be 20% vat as well as the 5% FA levy, player loyalty bonus, agents fees etc. So yes the transfer may well cost them that figure but after costs etc Chelsea won’t have received anywhere near that sum

    With regard to sums paid to take a player on loan there is no set figure that has to be paid or indeed a any set formula that has to be applied indeed often the fees don’t cover wages.

  19. Mike T, once again you miss the point Every time I have an argument with you it is like this. Once again we are getting no where. Everything you state about the fee for Lukaku is basically the same for all transfers, is it not? And now you’re quibbling about loan fees. You must be trying to wind me up. Munchengladbach are paying in the region of £1m/£1.5m to loan Thorgan Hazard for a season. That works out to around £20k per week. Please tell me loan fees are only a tiny fraction of a player’s wages. Even if the fee doesn’t cover all of the wages (unlikely), it covers most of it.

    Once again Mike T, you are trying to obfuscate the argument by bringing in small, irrelevant details. I’m tired of repeating my points, when once again you are simply ignoring them. Hopefully someone with more patience can explain it again to you.

  20. Quincy

    The costs I illustrate with Lukaku aren’t the same for every transfer. the whole question of VAT is different for players within the Eurrepean (no Vat is payable) and indeed when a Uk club buys a player from outside the EU the buying club pay over VAT directly. also the FA levy does not apply when a non English club is the selling club

    I haven’t any idea what fee is being paid for Hazard or any player but it is commonplace for clubs to subsidise players wages when they loan a player out

  21. Mike T is more correct than wrong about the VAT!

    EPL Handbook 2014/2015, quote

    V.29. Subject to Rules V.30 and V.35, all Compensation Fees, Loan Fees (including in both cases
    instalments thereof) and Contingent Sums payable to a Club or to a Football League club
    shall be paid (together in each case with Value Added Tax at the then current rate) by the
    Transferee Club into the Compensation Fee Account by telegraphic transfer or by such other
    means as the Board may from time to time direct.

    The EPL will have the paperwork, the auditors can demand to see the paperwork.

    I would suggest that Chelsea are quoting the transfer fee plus VAT plus the add-ons. The latter will appear in future years.

    Quincy, has every right to question the Chelsea policy on loanees. ALL, would appear to comply with the EPL regulations.

  22. Great, two Chel$ea fans feel the need to avoid the argument with irrelevant detail. Aren’t I a lucky boy.

  23. Haha Quincy they are Chelsea supports they don’t see that is not wrong they just see it as a loophole. Otherwise their whole team would make no sense if they agreed with you.

  24. Va Cong

    Brilliantly summed up.

    It’s a fact of life that:

    …..the richer you are, the more tax you should pay.

    …..the richer you are, the more ‘loop holes’ you seem to be able to find.

    …..everyone, other than those benefiting from the ‘loop hole’, actually think it’s a bit of a piss take.

    And that’s it really.

    Despite any issues of moral rights or wrongs, fair play, or good old fashioned honesty, Chelsea fans are happy. As long as it’s fundamentally ‘legal’ and doesn’t overtly break any rules, then all’s fair in love and war as far as they are concerned.

    Which, to a degree, I can understand.

    But the thing that irks me is the Chelsea and City fans expectation that we shouldn’t even question the ‘legality’ of there shenanigans, and in fact, should all just sit back and be happy for them.

  25. Jambug

    ita not a question of loopholes , honesty or the likes it’s about the rules. I really do agree that the rules around both loaning players out and indeed in should be changed but it is the clubs themselves that could do that yet there seems no appetite whatsoever to change anything.
    I. am truly staggered at the number of players out on loan from yes Chelsea but also other PL clubs and whilst some say it’s just about profit without regard to the players themselves others will point to the fact that many of those players who were out on loan are now making very good livings both here and abroad.
    I don’t expect any other clubs supporters to dance a jig of joy every time we sell a player on nor do I expect them to celebrate when we don’t fall foul of FFP but it’s as a direct result of the regulations that Chelsea have had to adopt such an approach but this model isn’t unique to Chelsea If it were I have no doubt that UEFA would have already outlawed profits from player trading to be excluded
    As an aside 4 of our current first team squad were put out on loan and whilst not sure the numbers at other clubs I suspect other than the odd club, yours being one, very few other PL clubs can match that number

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