How much is a soccer player worth?

At any given time of the year, you can always find an article or two about a big money signing linked with a big club. Gareth Bale has been constantly linked with a £100 million move to Manchester United, as has Cristiano Ronaldo. As soon as the transfer window comes around, speculation explodes, with big names and big numbers flying around. It gets everyone excited – the club, the fans, and the media. But is it going too far? Instead of buying a player for incredible amounts of money, a club should look to bag a bargain – look for cheap, bright youngsters instead.

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Christiano Ronaldo is constantly linked with a spectacular move back to Manchester United. Creative Commons License

This summer Memphis Depay made a £27.5 million move from PSV to Manchester United. Millions of fans went to buy his shirt, as Memphis chose to wear the legendary number 7, according to The Mirror. Pundits expected an evolution in Manchester United’s play. However, as soon as he stepped on the pitch, Memphis was anything but impressive. Compared to his performance in PSV, 22 goals in 30 games, Memphis has only managed 2 goals in 11 games so far, according to Transfermarkt. He has come nowhere near what his price tag may suggest.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy is a different story. Jamie Vardy was signed for a mere £1 million from Fleetwood Town, a non-league team. So far this season, Jamie Vardy has already slotted in 14 goals in 15 games (Transfermarkt). He broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 consecutive games, bringing the record up to scoring in 11. Vardy is a star turn, arguably one of the best strikers in the premier league, for only £1 million.

Dele Alli is another example of a bargain. Bought for only £5 million by Tottenham by MK Dons, Alli’s creativity and skill has shown in Tottenham’s season, according to Transfermarkt. While the 19-year-old only has three goals this season, it is undeniable that Alli’s technical prowess has improved Tottenham’s season, which has led to Alli being tipped by many as the youngster of the season, and a future star.

Former MK Dons player, Dele Alli’s impressive performance has earned him a spot in the England National Team. Creative Commons License

Why then do managers opt to buy expensive stars rather than investing in a cheaper player with potential?

“Because managers need to make a living,” said senior and football fanatic John Choo. Managers’ contracts usually last three to four years, a time period that may not be enough to develop a youngster to full potential. “To earn a new contract, managers have to produce results now, not a few years later. So they buy an expensive player who has already showcased his talent and win games,” John continued.

Senior James Song suggested that the overpricing of players happens because “there’s much more than performance to be considered. Things like shirt sales and ticket sales have to be taken into account. If everything is considered, the high prices can be justified.” It is true that shirt sales are a big aspect of a transfer. Memphis Depay sold the third highest number of shirts – coming only after Messi and Ronaldo.

Let’s take a look at team stats. The cost of Chelsea FC’s starting team is £275.1 million, a massive amount compared to Leicester’s £71.5 million, according to Transfermarkt. Where are they in the table? Leicester has overcome all odds, and stands at first, while Chelsea, one of the most expensive clubs, stands at a mere 14th place. It goes to show that money does not win games.

Chelsea has had their worst ever season. Creative Commons License

Junior Jack Luba said, “The price of players has increased a substantial amount because the sport has become increasingly commercialized. It doesn’t send a good message to fans when a club buys a player just to earn profit off of ticket and shirt sales, not to win games.”

It’s true that soccer is a form of entertainment. And for a club to be entertaining for its fans, it needs to win games. But too often, it is seen as a mere money-making business. Soccer is a culture, not a money-making business.

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