Sunday 18 March 2018

Behind the spending frenzy lurks the millions wasted

Balotelli and Mangala deals illustrate the window's folly

Mario Balotelli started just 14 games for Liverpool, costing £10,000 a minute. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Mario Balotelli started just 14 games for Liverpool, costing £10,000 a minute. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

At the risk of puncturing the optimism of those delighted with their club's summer transfer activity, some words of caution: yesterday's deadline-day star signing could be next year's "gone on loan with a view to a permanent deal".

Over £1billion changed hands as the Premier League clubs enjoyed a final spending spree with their TV lottery win, and yet it was the "freebies" on offer that are most revealing of English football's excess.

Take four outgoing deals that Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City were desperate to conclude over the last 24 hours. Between them, Mario Balotelli, Oumar Niasse, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala cost just short of £90m. Little or nothing was expected back as exit negotiations progressed yesterday.

Balotelli has joined Nice on a free transfer, Bony joined Stoke for a season and Mangala completed his loan transfer to Valencia.

Everton were desperately trying to offload Niasse, a player whom new manager Ronald Koeman did not consider worthy of a shirt number, let alone starting place.

There was little confidence a queue would form for a player who signed for £13.5m only in January.

These are the most recent rather than only emblems of the wasted resources that are now brushed aside as part of the "win some, lose some" culture of transfers. What they demonstrate - for every club - is the transfer window is increasingly about clearing the debris as recruitment.

Some cannot be shifted. We can only guess what Bastian Schweinsteiger has planned for his free weekends in Manchester over the next 12 months.

The speed with which players are signed for huge fees and salaries and then written off demonstrates why, while accepting the transfer window is part of the modern football circus, there remains such distaste for its ever increasing over-indulgence and the lack of recruiting wisdom.

The return on the investment for many of these players would make accountants shudder. Bony, signed for £25m, made 20 starts for City - a grand total of 2,003 minutes. That's £12,500 for every minute played.

Balotelli, a £16m signing, started just 14 games while at Anfield, coming in at just over £10,000 a minute.

Even these seem reasonable when you consider the repercussions of the Niasse deal. Everton managed to get a grand total of 152 minutes from the Senegalese striker. That's a staggering £88,815 a minute.

Niasse is an extreme case, but there are stark warnings of what might become of some of those welcomed to their new training ground with the traditional car window interview yesterday.

Deadline day is now presented as a momentous end to a summer festival, but as with all parties, the clean-up operation can be expensive. One of the more curious phenomena of recent windows is it seems to be those supporters whose clubs are most active in the final few hours who are most content.

Pre-planning, concluding deals weeks and months ahead of the frenzy earns no admiration in our age of instant, ceaseless gratification. Forget those who nabbed a bargain in June.

It is the chief executive who beats the clock by minutes whose negotiating skills earn most applause.


Clubs go to great lengths to talk up their extensive recruitment policies.

Then you see a striker who cannot run, another with little ability and a defender physically and technically ill-suited to the Premier League. You wonder how such mistakes can be made, but are left in no doubt they will continue to happen.

We are all complicit in the lunacy, as the increasingly absurd yearning for deadline-day activity from media and fans alike pressurises boardrooms and managers.

Words such as "desperation" or "panic" or even "rank stupidity" to describe certain transactions are dismissed as churlish, and yet the consequences of ill-considered purchases are everywhere.

For the fans of Stoke, Nice and Valencia, such negative assessments will be dismissed as an irrelevance in the midst of a fresh start for their exciting new purchase. Bony, Balotelli, Mangala and Niasse may indeed find form at their new clubs.

But more than ever, the summer transfer window is a three-month dice roll; the difference now is not just that prices are higher, so too are the losses. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Deadline day deals

Samir Nasri leaves Manchester City for Sevilla on a season-long loan. Like goalkeeper Joe Hart, who joined Torino on loan earlier, the former French international midfielder does not feature in Pep Guardiola's plans.

Stoke City have signed striker Wilfried Bony from Manchester City on a season-long loan. Bony, 27, has been a bit-part player at City since signing from Swansea City in January 2015.

Chelsea agree a deal to re-sign David Luiz with Paris Saint-Germain which sees the Brazilian return for £32m.

Liverpool are awaiting the final paperwork on Mario Balotelli's transfer (as a free agent) to Nice before they can draw a line under the Italian's miserable spell at Anfield.

Jack Wilshere arrived at Bournemouth last night to finish the particulars on a season-long loan deal.

Everton's Aiden McGeady seals a loan deal to join Preston North End.

Leicester City sign Islam Slimani from Sporting Lisbon for £28m, making him their most expensive purchase.

Burnley have broken their transfer record for the second time in the transfer window to sign Jeff Hendrick in a £10.5m deal from Derby County on a three-year contract.

Eunan O'Kane completes a move to Leeds United for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £1m

Chelsea sign Marcos Alonso for £23m from Italian top-flight club Fiorentina on a five-year contract.

West Ham sign Real Madrid full-back Alvaro Arbeloa as a free-agent on a one-year deal.

Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg have signed defender Andre Wisdom from Liverpool on a season-long loan. The 23-year-old spent last season on loan with Norwich City.

Sunderland splash £16m on the Gabon international midfielder Didier Ndong from French side Lorient.

Winger Juan Cuadrado has completed his return to Juventus on a three-year loan deal from Chelsea.

Glasgow Rangers have signed Switzerland defender Philippe Senderos on a one-year loan after leaving Grasshoppers.

Manchester City's 25-year-old France defender Eliaquim Mangala has moved to Valencia on a season-long loan deal.

Stoke City have signed Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi from Porto on a season-long loan, with the option of making the deal permanent.

Lazio sign Luis Alberto in a £4.3m deal from Liverpool. Alberto joined the Reds from Sevilla in June 2013 but spent last season on loan with Deportivo La Coruna.

Middlesbrough have signed winger Adama Traore for an undisclosed fee from second-tier Aston Villa on a four-year contract.

Spurs land Georges-Kévin Nkoudou from Marseille on a five-year deal for around £11m.

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