Every year since the Bosman ruling of 1995, people have made the same prediction that this summer’s transfer market will see the last of the big spenders. Things can’t possibly carry on, but they do.
The trend from the January 2013 transfer window was less money being spent in the cash-strapped economies of Italy, Spain and Portugal, but continued spending in Germany, England and France, where Paris Saint-Germain have added a new dimension to the marketplace.
A new north-south divide has emerged in Europe, with Russia as a potential new source of big-money deals. There are obvious exceptions – Barcelona and Real Madrid will continue to spend heavily – but Mediterranean clubs are increasingly looking to South America.
Other factors will also determine what deals are done. This summer could see a succession of major coaching changes. In addition to the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, there could be new coaches at Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG and Chelsea – the four biggest-spending clubs of recent years.
City and Chelsea may rein in their spending this summer as they try to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fairplay regulations. But increased TV money means that, overall, the Premier League clubs have more to spend than ever before.
There are unknown factors, such as Champions League placings, which could affect Gareth Bale’s future at Tottenham Hotspur, and the proclamations of Alex Ferguson, who has given his “word” that Wayne Rooney will be at Manchester United next season. Ferguson made similar promises on David Beckham, Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo. On speculation that Real Madrid were preparing to bid for Ronaldo in 2009, he said “I wouldn’t sell them a virus”. Weeks later Ronaldo moved for a world-record fee.
The £80million from the sale of Ronaldo has been burning a hole in United’s pocket ever since, and remains highest-ever transfer fee. It’s highly unlikely that a new record will be set this summer. But stranger things have happened.
The list of the 100 most wanted players can be found in the April 2013 issue of World Soccer.