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October 2020

The value of last summer’s signings, club by club. You might be surprised at the benefit – and lack of it.

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.

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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.


12 comments to The value of last summer’s signings, club by club. You might be surprised at the benefit – and lack of it.

  • colario

    Buying a player and the player being injured in the first month or so is a chance that has to be taken. Cech could so easily have been injured in August – September.

    Being able to recognise a player’s ability and or potential is a skill that a successful manager has and is one of the important differences between those involved in the game and someone like me a fan.

    We are fortunate that we have in Arsene the most intelligent football manager in the country He believes in developing young players.

    He is also able to improve the ability of established players.

    He is an opportunist I say this because surely no other manager has bought so many top players on the cheap as Arsene has.

    No other manager has made the profit on players that Arsene has made.

    No other manager has the ‘vision’ that Arsene has.

  • Josif

    Speaking of transfers, sometimes there is a value (or lack of it) in a player that you don’t pay for but you get it anyway.

    Take Petr Čech for example. He is not just the best goalkeeper in the history of English Premier League. (Hell, if he was Spanish or Italian, he would be the best of all times as his international results would be much better.) No, Čech is not just that.

    Čech is a top professional before anything else. Until the last day of his Chelsea contract, he was loyal to Chelsea. I saw him mocking some Arsenal fan (not the most intelligent one, truth to be told) who tried to photo-shop Čech’s tweet in a way Čech would insult Chelsea. Once he signed for Arsenal, he immediately changed his Twitter photo but has never lost respect for the plate from which he used to eat. Given all our experiences with Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri…let’s not mention Ashley Cole and Emmanuel Adebayor…Čech’s loyalty until the very last moment is something one should respect regardless of the club the one supports.

    Having such a great personality is an asset of its own. Arsene Wenger is probably delighted whenever he speaks with Čech. I think he doesn’t have to explain him twice what he expects him to do. And, what is more important, he can be positive Čech will go out on the pitch and give his best possible performance.

    Having Čech in the team also means having the best role model for Szczesny, Macey and Martinez. Szczesny has already won The Golden Glove – shared it with The King of Clean Sheets himself actually – and is still young enough to become one of the best goalkeepers out there.

  • serge

    The best signings ( for me ) were Cech, Kanté & Cabaye. There was somebody on here absolutely ridiculing Cabaye earlier in the season, but I doubt if she’ll put her hand up for it now.
    I was surprised that we weren’t interested in Dele Alli, I’m sure he must have been on our radar, especially as Arsené likes young English players.

  • Josif

    @serge – yes, Čech, Kante and Cabaye have been the best signings this summer.

    Cabaye is another example of how purchasing an excellent player who is intelligent and has already developed understanding with the manager (they used to work together at Newcastle) can propel a team of Crystal Palace stature to Champions League place.

  • Tom

    A bit of a pointless exercise showing amounts spent without showing the actual net spend for each club.

    Villa’s net spend is about £1M for this season according transfermarkt.
    Also, without showing contributions from players who left , against the contributions from players who have come in to replace them, it’s kinda superficial to say they haven’t done well enough.

    Staying with Villa, they lost their two best players in Benteke and Delph. Replacing this kind of talent isn’t easy.

    Then you also have a problem of management.
    Every other PL club is at a disadvantage when compared with Arsenal.
    Arsene Wenger has the luxury of time and the unwavering support of the board no other PL manager can enjoy.

    Tim Sherwood was always going to be on a short leash, and rightfully so, seeing as some of his decision and comments clearly exposed his inadequacy for the job.

    He had provided Villa with a usual managerial bump when appointed last season, which he promptly killed off when he made a bone- headed decision to tell a third of his squad they weren’t in his plans for the next season, four weeks before the FA cup final no less.
    Villa’s performance on that day should’ve been a warning sign for Villa’s board.

    His analysis of most of the Villa games this season boiled down to shifting all the blame on to the players, blaming them for ” individual mistakes”, when clearly they were outplayed and out coached by opposition on the day.
    Case in point, Leicester game, when Sherwod just stood there watching his team getting taken apart in the second half by tactical and personnel changes made by Ranieri.

    Villa finished on 38 points last season, which most seasons doesn’t guarantee safety, but I suppose if I’m understanding your first paragraph correctly, they should’ve bought no one because transfers don’t guarantee success?

    Put Arsene Wenger instead of Sherwood in charge of Villa with the same players, and you will have a different outcome for sure.

    If the point of your article was to show that Arsenal did the right thing to only have signed Cech ,then I guess the second half of the season will render the verdict on that.

    My personal feeling is that every quality signing only increases our chances come May.

  • para

    Recent it’s been a little “Victor Meldrew” here, but i suppose it’s that time of year again 🙂

    How dare Leiscester try take our crown? The cheek of them, i mean, where did they come from, they just keep winning. No i’m not going on about them love, but it’s just unimaginable that they… no they couldn’t, could they? That Ranery fellow must be feeding them stereos or something.

    For all those shaking their heads: Victor is a character in an old TV show that constantly moans making it hell for his wife and neighbors, but a somewhat loveable chappie.

  • WalterBroeckx

    About Villa and losing their best players… isn’t that what happened to us for a few years? year after year?

    It isn’t easy but when you have a genius as a manager it can be done. Even without spending lots of money…

    Like building a stadium and all the clubs that did it got relegated or went bankrupt (be aware North London neighbours) but we stayed even in the top 4.

    Whatever what is thrown at him, Wenger just shows that he can cope with it in a way that is unseen before.

    That is why Moaninho hates Wenger so much I think. Moaninho knows this all too well and he knows that in a few years time people will admire Wenger much more for it. So hoping to get him sacked might take off the shine that surrounds Wenger for his brilliance in keeping us in the top 4 with a stadium to pay and having to sell his best players every year..

  • Josif

    A young rabbi was doing his apprenticeship with an experienced rabbi as his mentor. One day, a man came to see the older rabbi to resolute the man’s dispute with his neighbour.

    After hearing his case, the experienced rabbi said to the man: “You are right.” The man left rabbi’s chambers with a grin on his face.

    Not long after, that man’s neighbour came to seek justice as well and asked the experienced rabbi whether he is right or his neighbour. The rabbi listened to him carefully and responded: “You are right.”

    When the other man left the chambers with a grin too, the young rabbi was left confused. He asked his mentor: “You said to the first man he was right. Then this man with whom he has a dispute came and you told him he was right too!” The older rabbi looked at him and replied: “You know what? You are right too!”

    In a way, both Tony and Tom are right. Arsene has made one signing and it was a 100 percent successful which is something other managers can’t say. IMO, Arsene should have made at least one more though – a Coquelin-esque cover as I’ve been saying since August – but, as Tom said, that will be judged come May.

  • Josif

    Oh, and speaking of Schneiderlin – just compare United defensive record without him and with him to realize he is worth of that money. The others, however…

  • John

    I know that this site is pro wenger and for wenger lovers but some of your comments are laughable.The difference between us and villa is that we sold some of our players from a squad that was still full of talent,cost millions,and probably had the third highest wage bill in the premiership.Villas squad is full of youngsters that were either free or came cheaply.If Arsene managed them do you think they would be in a higher position than they are now??Probably not.
    Also we all know that new signings dont always work out but a lot of the time they do.Van persie being an example in his first season at utd.If we dont strengthen in january and then fall away will you again blame it all on badluck ,injuries ,referees,bad tackles or will the manager be partly responsible ?? Oh and top 4 isnt a trophy walter ,all it does is qualify us for a tournament that we have no realistic chance of winning,it just makes us money ,money that we dont spend.We are no closer to the top teams of europe now than we were before we moved to the emirates nearly 10 years ago..

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting , one major signing, but what a signing!
    Do get the feeling we may make an addition,in Jan, but unlike the media, have absolutely no idea who.
    As for the Chelsea fans, strange they pick on Cesc, Costa and Hazard, but Matic, who has been as bad as any of them, as well as Ivanovic get of.
    Almost as if they don’t like forwards and creative players over there.

  • Goonermikey

    @ John

    Interesting if you look at Villa in isolation. Far from laughable though. Try comparing us with the likes of Chelsea, Man U, Man C, Spuds & Liverpool and you will see that thrust of this article is sound.