‘Stupid English money’ has led to Premier League clubs being charged as much as double for players across Europe and down the league ladder, according to a report in the Mirror, as if it wasn’t blindingly obvious.
The red top has done a service with claims that Eric Bailly was being lined up by German clubs for ‘no more than £20m’ before the centre-half’s £30m move to Manchester United, while Croatian defender Domagoj Vida’s price has veered between £8m and £14m, depending on the buyers.
Along with other examples, the case of Brighton defender Lewis Dunk is also mentioned, with the previously unheralded centre-half almost sold to Championship Fulham for £5m a year ago, yet valued at twice that now Premier League pair Crystal Palace and West Brom are interested.
There have been countless examples of such profligacy over the past couple of summers, not just from England, with Juventus shelling out the obscene sum of £75.3m for Gonzalo Higuain, a striker who turns 30 within the next 18 months.
Higuain’s move makes him the third-most expensive player of all time, the oldest player at the time of the big-money move to make the top ten bar Zinedine Zidane, and let’s be frank, he’s no Zidane.
The Argentine’s eye-watering exit from Napoli, allied with rumours that Everton want to pay £9m for Southampton centre-half Jose Fonte, who will be 33 years old before 2016 is out, is reminiscent of the last time money in football drove people truly mad.
When Fiorentina started to show signs of going bust in 2000, Italian football rallied round one of its stalwart clubs, refusing to let La Viola die despite their horrific financial state under the ownership of Vittorio Cecchi Gori.
The world record transfer fee was broken that summer, with Hernan Crespo joining Lazio from Parma for £35m, but Gabriel Batistuta’s £23.5m switch from Fiorentina to Roma is the move that endures in the memory, as it set a mark for players over 30 which has yet to be broken.
AC Milan also went on to help Fiorentina the following summer, when they were truly in trouble, by shelling out £30m for then-29-year-old Rui Costa, a fee that still sits second on the Rossoneri list of all-time record transfer outlays, only behind his attacking-midfield successor Kaka.
These were massive amounts that didn’t make sense considering Batistuta’s and Costa’s advancing years, no matter how good they were.
Italian football’s cash-laden wings appeared to be clipped by the financial crisis that kicked off at the end of the noughties, with Serie A further shut out by the growing clout of La Liga, the Bundesliga and particularly the Premier League.
What it will take to knock the latter of its perch remains to be seen, but something always does.