Real Madrid’s emphatic start to this summer’s transfer market has stolen football’s attention.
An extensive rebuild promised to returning head coach Zinedine Zidane has already seen – including deals previously agreed – more than €300 million spent on the likes of mesmerising Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard, promising Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic and emerging Lyon left-back Ferland Mendy.
There is still the promise of even more to come, with links to €150m-rated Manchester United centre midfielder Paul Pogba refusing to go away.
This splurge is sure to transform Los Blancos’ expectations after they claimed just the Club World Cup in 2018/19. But how does it compare to previous ones?
We’ve looked back through the past five decades to select the most-consequential pre-season spending sprees. Here is the pick of the 2010s:
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (2017)
Key arrivals: Neymar, Kylian Mbappe (loan), Dani Alves
Honourable mentions: Borussia Dortmund (2010 – Shinji Kagawa, Robert Lewandowski, Lukasz Piszczek), Manchester City (2010 – David Silva, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner, Jerome Boateng), Barcelona (2014 – Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo), Manchester City (2017 – Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Ederson)
An earthquake occurred in the European transfer market two summers ago – and its aftershocks continue to cause rampant disruption.
In either a fit of pique caused by Barcelona’s unwanted overtures for Italy midfielder Marco Verratti or barefaced show of ambition, PSG seismically reset all expectations about the cost of elite footballers. This decision to pay the €222 million release clause in Neymar’s contract, despite Gerard Pique’s infamous “se queda” (“he stays”) tweet, more than doubled the world transfer record set a year prior when Manchester United bought Paul Pogba back from Juventus.
To put the precipitous jump into context, the landmark figure last increased by a similar percentage in 1932.
But the Parisians were not content with that. Not even close.
The final day of their astonishing pre-season assault witnessed a loan move for Monaco and France teenager Kylian Mbappe. Contained within the agreement was a permanent option set at €145m plus €35m in add-ons.
The anointed successor to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, followed by football’s hottest property. In the same transfer window and at prices – both present and future – that would make them clearly the two grandest fees ever lavished.
PSG had even begun the window in emphatic fashion, blowing fellow big-spenders Manchester City out of the water for coveted free agent Dani Alves. Pep Guardiola had been convinced that a reunion with his esteemed Barca right-back was assured.
The impact of PSG’s sensational business has been keenly felt.
Rapid hyper-inflation saw Barca, alone, forced to splurge combined fees that could total almost €300m on replacements Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho. They are far from the only club affected by a startling rise in recruitment costs.
Domestically, Ligue 1 supremacy was assured after Monaco heaped embarrassment upon them in 2016/17.
They have, however, twice been knocked out in the Champions League’s round of 16. Gaping holes elsewhere in the squad could not be plugged because of strenuous – and self-induced – Financial Fair Play problems.
All that glitter has not turned, definitively, into gold.
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