John Giles: Liverpool a selling club, Levy the hypocrite and Manchester's elite - the transfer market gone mad
THERE is a clear message emerging from this summer of transfer madness which shows no sign of letting up. Every club in the world is a selling club now apart from a stellar half dozen.
In England, only the two Manchester managers are secure in the knowledge that money is no object and no matter how big the price, they can pay it.
In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid enjoy the same financial muscle and PSG have more than declared their intent and ability to operate at this level by taking Neymar to Paris. Bayern Munich complete the line-up.
Everyone else is a playing on a level below them and vulnerable if one of the elite decides to focus on one of their players, as Liverpool are finding out now.
There is nothing new about this but what has changed is the amounts involved and how small the elite group at the top has become as a result.
Liverpool fans know that they lost their place at the top table when the club sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona. There was no way back after that.
Sure, the club resisted and got a run at the Premier League title out of Suarez before he left but the fact remained; Liverpool took the money.
Now they face a similar dilemma with Coutinho who clearly wants to go to Barcelona but is playing his hand very carefully and with dignity. He won’t force the issue but hard cash might.
This saga has been enacted at Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs with Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic and, most recently, Danny Rose.
Arsene Wenger’s solution was to bin the possibility of a big pay day for Sanchez in favour of one more season where he will be playing at his best to make sure he gets the move he wants in a year.
It’s a pragmatic call and I agree with Wenger’s assessment that as fees rise through the stratosphere, we will see more situations like this.
Chelsea had their hands full with Costa from the start so he’s not a great example to cite but they sold Matic to a Premier League and Champions League rival, a move which I’m still trying to figure out.
The only logical thought I’ve had on it is that Michael Emenalo and by extension, Roman Abramovich, wanted to show Antonio Conte who really makes the calls at Stamford Bridge. If that is true, it’s crazy but whatever the reason for selling him, they took £40m from Jose Mourinho and in my book, that makes them a selling club.
At Spurs, Daniel Levy is taking a stand but the hypocrisy of his decision to cap wages at £100,000 is breath-taking.
In truth, the cap is not a heroic stand against the power of market forces and the spiralling intensity of the transfer market.
It’s about saving money.
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Levy was quite happy to take the full benefit of the market when he sold Kyle Walker to Manchester City for £50m but he isn’t minded to pass any of that on to his employees in their wages.
Danny Rose went public yesterday to point out that he feels he is not being paid what he is worth and we know that Harry Kane is on a very small salary compared to what any one of the six clubs I’ve listed above would be only too delighted to multiply in a very big way.
I said at the time of the contract negotiation that Levy took advantage of Kane’s love for Spurs but Rose is obviously a hard-headed lad and more power to him. He is right to speak out.
Levy can’t have it both ways. He can’t play the market and win a big profit off the back of one of his players and then plead poverty.
What has been amazing about the summer is the amount of money being paid for unheralded players
That has obvious consequences all the way down the food chain and for the future of football if the enormous amounts of broadcast cash ever dries up.
To be honest, I just cannot see that happening.
In fact, I think there is still some way to go before we hit any kind of ceiling and the benchmark for that is America.
Miami Marlins baseballer Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest deal in world sport worth £250m over 13 years which has now been eclipsed by Neymar’s £200m over five years.
But almost all of the owners of the top 100 contracts in world sport play baseball, basketball or American football.
If a market that size can generate so much, it is only matter of time before we catch up and judging by the surge this summer, it won’t take long.
That’s the cold reality Liverpool’s owners must get to grips with. The only way is up in terms of fees and wages and Liverpool have been short on quality for a couple of decades now.
Jurgen Klopp was in a difficult enough place in the transfer market before Barcelona decided to get serious about his best player and his entire project would be under threat if he looses this battle.
He would get cash to spend but that will melt away when selling clubs raise their expectations in the knowledge that he has Coutinho’s massive fee burning a hole in his pocket.
The only hope Klopp has is that his personal intervention and Coutinho’s obvious affection for Liverpool can somehow buy him another season.
Barca want him though and in the end though, money usually talks.