Stupid money in silly season, this summer’s transfer window has been among the most absurd with the Premier League’s sprawling fees passing the £1billion mark.
In a window which has seen Kyle Walker sold to Manchester City for £50million it’s difficult to imagine this inflated market producing any bargain buys.
But a few clubs have managed to put together some good business this summer.
Here, in no particular order, we take a look at the five best bargain buys so far.
Aside from a mixed loan spell at Dutch side Vitesse, Solanke has the potential to be one of Liverpool’s most underrated signings.
The 19-year-old was poached from Chelsea and a tribunal will set the composition figure with a fee between £3million and £10million suggested.
But whatever the cost, Solanke has already shown he is ready to take the next step in his development. He was the player of the tournament as England won the U-20 World Cup and needed just 10 minutes to score on his debut for the Reds against Crystal Palace.
He has the right attitude to succeed and he’s working under a manager with a reputation for nurturing young talent. A ruthless finisher, the striker has the tools to round out his game as he steps up to the senior ranks.
Everton have been one of the league’s most active spenders this summer but of all the arrivals, Sandro is the one to receive the biggest wave of optimism – a rare sentiment from Blues fans.
Indeed, the 21-year-old could be the smartest piece of business done in this window as Everton capitilised on a £5million release clause to snap up the striker from Malaga.
The youngster was released by Barcelona last year and ended up at the Costa del Sol club where he kicked his career on by scoring 14 La Liga goals.
His versatility across the front three will see Ronald Koeman utilise him consistently next season and his work rate, aggression and intelligence could see the La Masia graduate fulfill his undoubted potential.
Chelsea’s erratic youth policy has been of benefit for two Premier League clubs with Liverpool signing Solanke and Watford capturing Chalobah.
The Premier League champions spent 12 years nurturing his talents only to see him depart for a paltry £5million as he pursued first-team opportunities.
At 22 years old, Chalobah is a brilliant young defensive midfielder and Chelsea will rue having let him run down his deal to a final year.
Dictating play from deep the creative side of his game is unquestionable but there is work to be done from a defensive perspective.
Still, Chalobah is a graceful operator and Chelsea’s insistence on a release clause is evidence of one slipping through the net.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said he would never have sold Hernandez if he were in charge when he left for Bayer Leverkusen in 2015 – and for good reason.
The Mexico icon returns to the Premier League after a £16million switch to West Ham and in this market, for guaranteed goals, that’s what we consider a bargain.
At 29 age isn’t exactly on his side but the Hammers have been dreadfully short of firepower and with 34 goals during two seasons with an average Bundesliga side, Hernandez is the perfect poacher they need.
According to the Guardian, West Ham have brought in 32 strikers for four different managers but between them have plundered just 128 goals in 643 games.
That startling trend should come to an end with Hernandez, though, with the £16million outlay a sound investment.
Yes, he was Huddersfield’s record signing at £10million until Tom Ince was captured for £11million but it’s little wonder Town boss David Wagner was desperate to sign the Australian on a permanent deal.
Mooy was the Championship’s most outstanding midfielder during his loan spell from Man City to Huddersfield last season as he became central to their surprise ascension to the Premier League.
His importance to the Terriers is undeniable as the 26-year-old made 48 league appearances in a deep role alongside Jonathan Hogg.
His dictation of tempo was masterfull, so much so, Pep Guardiola considered implementing keeping onto him at City so he’s certainly one to watch next season.
Another day in football, another wave of transfer rumours to keep up on. Take a look at the most recent names and gossip being floated around in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Barcelona will turn their attentions to the Premier League as they look to replace PSG-bound Neymar.
The Catalan giants will look to sign one of Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, Chelsea wideman Eden Hazard or Tottenham’s England international Dele Alli, according to the Mirror.
Liverpool have already rejected a bid from Barca and will resist any further offers for a player who is contracted with the club until 2021 and has no release clause.
Chelsea and Tottenham will likely offer equal resistance given both Hazard and Alli are key assets but with €222million set to be banked on Neymar, Ernesto Valverde has big money to spend.
Still, it seems unlikely any one of these three players will be leaving for Spain this summer.
Barcelona target Ander Herrera is in talks with Manchester United over a contract extension, according to the Telegraph.
The Spain international has just 12 months left on his current deal with Ernesto Valverde said to be keen on linking up with his former Athletic Bilbao charge.
Herrera emerged as Jose Mourinho’s chief lieutenant last season and it’s clear he sees the midfielder as a key part of his plans.
According to the report, Herrera’s agent was in America during the final week of United’s pre-season tour and met with the club’s hierarchy to discuss the terms of a new deal.
It seems a foregone conclusion he’ll be remaining at Old Trafford.
Manchester City are set to step up their chase of Alexis Sanchez and will offer him massive wages to move to the Etihad Stadium, reports the Daily Mail.
The Chilean is widely expected to leave Arsenal this summer and his future was once more in doubt as he pulled out of training on Friday, though it was through illness.
City hope to prize him away from the Emirates Stadium by paying him £320,000 per week.
We’ve been over this rumour time and time again but it seems Sanchez is only heading in one direction and that’s the north west of England.
He won’t sign a new deal and Arsenal aren’t naive and will want to cash in on a player who will be available on a free transfer next summer.
All that stands in the way is his wage demands and if City are willing that amount, it should be enough to seal a deal with £50million the reported figure Arsenal want.
There is very good reason why the football transfer window is known as the ‘Silly Season’.
As each year goes by and the column inches and web pages devoted to the twice-yearly frenzy of buying, selling and loaning grow and grow – and the amounts bandied about get more and more absurd – the title rings truer and truer.
Here’s a couple of numbers:
19.1 million – not the latest sign on figures, but the number of hits on a Google search for the words “transfer window”.
£160m (Dh771.8m) – Manchester City’s spending this year on their back line, more than many nations do on their defence.
1.165 billion – the total spend for the Premier League in the 2016 window, the 2017 spend is expected to dwarf that.
The root cause of this problem is money, lots and lots of money, acquired via the recent mind-blowing TV-rights deals. The Premier League’s new deal, for example, is worth £10.4bn (Dh50.2bn).
The three most expensive defenders of all time play for Man City:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 24, 2017
• Benjamin Mendy
• John Stones
• Kyle Walker
Luxury defence. 🤑 pic.twitter.com/34odkmXvGa
The clubs now have money to spend and spend they will. From the players’ side, they are always looking for something better: a stronger club, a chance to win trophies, a larger pay-packet.
The real issue is not the money, or the clubs, or the players – it is the agents looking to inflate their players’ values, and their own commission.
Their chief weapon in this – the unending sea of baseless rumour known as social media.
Think about it, for an agent, a player remaining at a club does not gain them any return. They make their money when a player is sold from one club to another.
So what if they have a player, let’s call him Star X, who is happy at their current club, Club A. They need to get Star X on the move.
So first they drop a rumour to a journalist, blogger, vlogger, podcaster, Tweeter or Instagrammer that the player is not happy and wants a move to another club, Club B.
This filters back to Club B, who now feel they might have a chance to sign Star X and make a bid.
The agent is informed of the offer, the offer they instigated with their rumour, and he lets slip another rumour – this time of a greatly inflated price.
He knows he is safe to do this as no-one is going to deny the rumour.
Club A is not going to deny it as they don’t want to confirm that someone is chasing their star player, as this may scare off other players they are trying to buy.
Club B also do not want to confirm or deny the offer as they don’t want other agents or clubs to know the amounts of money they are willing to pay.
So, from a nothing situation, the agent now has a player getting stars in his eyes over a massive new pay-packet, one club edgy about losing one of their stars and another club (and their fans) more and more excited about snaring a new hero.
The side bonus for the agent is other clubs, who have coveted Star X privately, now think he is open to a move and declare their interest, sparking a bidding war.
And the agent is closer to getting a massive commission, which for someone like Paul Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, can reportedly be €27m (Dh116.5m).
DONNARAIOLA x HATERS 1-0— Mino Raiola (@MinoRaiola) June 25, 2017
For the scenario above, there are many players you can insert as Star X – Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho. These are all players supposedly happy at their current club, now in the middle of heated speculation.
And the beneficiary of all this speculation – a few greedy agents.