Alisson for £67m. Cristiano Ronaldo for £109m. Richarlison for £40m.
There has been plenty of money spent around Europe this summer, but how are transfer fees decided? How much does the market drive prices up and down? And how much do players know about their price?
We spoke to a former player, a transfer consultant and a manager to find out…
The player – Ryan Mason
“I never thought as a player: ‘How much am I worth?’.”
Ryan Mason started his career at Tottenham as a seven-year-old, rising through the youth teams and making 70 appearances before joining Hull in a £13m deal in 2016. He was forced to retire at the age of 26 as a result of a fractured skull he suffered against Chelsea in 2017.
Mason told Sky Sports how fees are sometimes driven up by those involved in deals.
“A lot of the fees that are mentioned are agents and people at the club. If you are looking to sell a player and you can get it out there that other clubs are looking at him then it can force other clubs to move quicker,” he said.
“A lot of the paper talk does come from people inside the club or inside the deals, most of the time to try and provoke things.
“The summer I was leaving Spurs there was talk about me leaving for a certain amount which wasn’t true, and I never thought as a player, ‘How much am I worth?’. When I was leaving Tottenham I wasn’t asking how much the fee was, I was asking what clubs were willing to sign me and could a deal be done.
“It’s strange sitting their valuing yourself at a certain price because it’s down to what the club and chairman value you at because you’re an asset to them.”
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While Mason was worth £13m in 2016, he could well have fetched more today considering the rise in transfer fees over the last few years. The 27-year-old says he cannot see the market slowing down, and thinks some clubs needs to be careful.
“Two or three years ago you were thinking it might slow down and couldn’t carry on, but football is just getting bigger and bigger so in the near future I can’t see it going down,” he added.
“The ones that have to be careful are the Championship clubs that take a punt on getting to the Premier League and getting that big payday. If they don’t quite make that step up that is when it can be very difficult financially.”
The transfer consultant – David Webb
“The market has driven the prices high so potential players that might have cost X amount, which was reasonable, would now cost double that.”
David Webb is a transfer consultant and ex-head of elite talent ID at Tottenham. He has also worked at Bournemouth as head of player recruitment. He told Sky Sports about the factors that go into setting, and finding out, a transfer fee.
“It’s a combination of things. It’s the player’s age, his profile, his contract, and also comparable players in the market,” he said.
“If you are talking about a 20-year-old with talent then clubs are not going to let him leave cheaply and if there is interest from other clubs it will drive his price higher.
“You also look at resale value. If you look to purchase someone, maybe in an 18-23 demographic and you are getting him at X amount then maybe in two or three years, depending on the size of your club, you are thinking about the exit strategy and how much you might get for him.”
Webb worked as an international scout with Southampton before spending time with Millwall and Crystal Palace, where he helped to unearth Wilfried Zaha at the age of 13.
Zaha could reportedly be on the move this summer, with suggestions of a £70m transfer fee.
“The transfer of Neymar last summer for £200m has driven the market really high,” adds Webb.
“It means the current players below that, who are not premium players, are being sold at a premium price. The market has driven the prices high so potential players that might have cost X amount, which was reasonable, would now cost double that.
“Transfer prices are still quite high when you look at Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus for £105m and Alisson joining Liverpool for £67m. For a Premier League club you don’t see many deals between £5m-£7m unless it’s a January deal to get out of their contract or something like that.”
One deal that has generated some surprise this summer has been Richarlison’s £40m move from Watford to Everton.
The 21-year-old joined Watford for around £11.5m last summer and his form in his debut season dipped after an encouraging start. However, at Everton he will be playing under the manager who signed him at Watford – Marco Silva.
“The key insight for that would be that he has worked with the manager before so he knows about him and what he can bring to the team,” says Webb.
“He did well under Marco Silva and seemed to have belief and confidence, and then when he left his form dipped. It looks like the fee would be down to the manager’s belief in him.
“There could have been previous bids but Watford were set on what they wanted for the player.
Man Utd vs Leicester
August 10, 2018, 7:00pm
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“From a recruitment point of view it could be a gamble but from the manager’s point of view he knows him and what he can bring to his environment, so this might have been his call. He knows how to get the best out of him.”
Reflecting on his experiences at Tottenham and Bournemouth, Webb said: “All clubs do things differently but at Tottenham due diligence was key because someone like Mauricio Pochettino demanded quite a lot from the character in the dressing room. It was the same with Eddie Howe.
“You would always have to do a lot of homework in terms of where you are on players, especially overseas players, to see if they fit in your environment. You do your tick boxes, you do the football, then the value, then you weigh up all the pros and cons and see if it is something worth pursuing.”
When trying to decide on a fee, there’s also the “settling-in factor” if a player is coming from abroad.
Webb says: “You don’t know how he is going to settle and from a recruitment perspective you have to do due diligence and your homework and make sure he fits in with what you want on the footballing side and then make sure you have enough background information on what he has done in previous seasons, what his character is like, to give you an indication of how he will adapt.
“You don’t want to pay £10m for someone who potentially won’t fit.”
The manager – Sean Dyche
“The bar got set high early this year.”
Burnley have been one of the lowest spenders in the Premier League over the last few years and have been frustrated in their attempts to strengthen their squad this summer.
They have seen offers for West Brom duo Craig Dawson and Jay Rodriguez turned down and have pulled out of a potential move for Swansea’s Sam Clucas.
Manager Sean Dyche told Sky Sports News that James Maddison’s £24m switch from Norwich to Leicester on June 20 has affected the market this summer.
“There’s lot of different changes in the market every window it seems,” he said. “The bar got set high early this year with the first domestic transfers; Maddison going to Leicester pushed the boundaries and then it’s a knock-on effect and everyone wants everything they can get. It does make it difficult but it’s not new to us.
“All clubs hold in a shape of waiting and waiting to push the margins, it’s as simple as that, because clubs that get money in know they have to put it back out there. It’s tough for everyone.”
Even though the window is closing earlier this year, business has still not been done until late, with the Clarets yet to sign a single player.
“Everybody knows it’s coming so clubs are holding and holding,” added Dyche.
“From a football point of view it’s right, because you should have your players in the camp for the start of the season, but from a business point of view, if it was like the old days and you could do it all year clubs would have to sell at any given time, now they know it’s coming so they wait and wait and push and push to maximise every drop.”