Mails: Time to introduce the Messi-Ronaldo transfer scale

Date published: Thursday 3rd August 2017 7:00

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Good bloody luck
At the risk of the backlash that somehow still seems to be connected with English success in the women’s game, I just want to wish the Lionesses good luck tonight in their semi-final against the Netherlands.

It would make it a great summer for England teams competing in tournaments, I’ll be watching.

I’ll also look forward to the number of plastic, bandwagon fans that come out of the woodwork when England win the Cup, stating they’ve always loved women’s football.
Ben, The Bournemouth Red


The Neymar replacement
On who Barcelona buy now that Neymar is gone…why has no one mentioned Aubameyang?

Sure he’s not a natural left sided player but i don’t see why he couldn’t interchange with the other 2 at times and still be devastating, he’s definitely worth more than Coutinho and in my opinion a better player (LFC fans panties already in a twist).

Really want Barca and PSG facing each other as soon as possible now.
T, CFC, London


He’s being offered over half a million a week to be the focal point of one clubs attempt at being the biggest club in the world. He’s sick of being in Messi’s shadow and wants to be the top dog.

I’d do it, you’d do it, *everyone* would do it. Anyone who says otherwise is mad or lying through their teeth.

If the owners can afford it, **** it, it’s their money. Football hasn’t gone bonkers. Some people are just a *lot* richer than others and FFP doesn’t work. Either of these a surprise?

I don’t envy him. He’s skilled in a way that earns him a huge fortune and I’m not. Made my peace with being less rich than a lot of folk a long time ago. Good for him, even if his Dad’s a shyster.

My only worry is that now Barcelona *have* to sign Coutinho and can easily afford to make an offer Liverpool really can’t refuse. But, hell, they were going to get him anyway.

Make a serious argument that staying at Liverpool is better for him than going to Barca. Go on, I dare you. I can’t and I support Liverpool. So no way he’ll see it differently.

The amount of tapping up we’ve done this summer, we can scarcely take the moral high ground.

World hasn’t changed, rich folk get richer, players move clubs, life goes on folks!
James, Liverpool ( mandatory cute message inserted to be deleted by the editor )


Poor Barca
How will Barcelona cope with just Messi and Suarez? FineJon, Jo’burg (that is all)


Barkley mad
Neymar to PSG. Coutinho to Barcelona. Barkley to Liverpool. You heard it here first folks
Rob A (Tottenham already have Eriksen, they don’t need him) AFC


More short-term contracts, please
I work as a contractor and it has various pro’s and cons that normally boil down to better job security versus a greater wage (when you’re on a job!).

With the ongoing fiasco of Neymar being paid to pay out his buy-out clause, it got me thinking about why there are not more ‘contractor’ players on short term, but high wage, contracts. After all in the current climate, a contract is hardly worth the paper it’s written on. In fact contracts seem to drive the run-away rising of transfer fees and agent fees with stupid buy out clauses inserted.

While it wouldn’t work for all players (as contracting isn’t right for everyone). It would work particularly well at the top level of the game and for new players breaking through.

A potential downside is that it obviously gives all the power to players and encourages a mercenary like approach to being paid the highest wages. Though on the flip side you could say that having to only pay wages (and perhaps with a payment cap set on a league) would reduce the overall amount of money in football and allow so called smaller clubs to splash out on a single top player for a season or two who they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get. Particularly good for local players returning to their roots at their peak; like LeBron James’ return to Cleveland Cavaliers.

Perhaps if players were all centrally registered, youth players could be linked to the club(s) who developed them and a proportion of future fees (10%?) paid to encourage and reward clubs to continue to develop youth.

I’m sure I’ve not thought this through and injuries to players is a serious concern, so perhaps the need for some type of compulsory centralised player insurance. But in principle encouraging short term contracts seems a good thing?
Tom Saints  


This is no mistake
In response to claims that Neymar’s move to PSG is a big mistake, I have to disagree.

I’ve seen people compare his move to that of Ibrahimovic when he left Milan, but they could not be different. When Ibrahimovic moved to PSG, Ligue 1 was the worst it had been in decades. The post-lyon reign had seen some great teams, but as usual they got pillaged at seasons end. Montpellier had won the league, PSG still had Jallet and Armand on their books. Ibrahimovic had also left a broke Milan team who would enter their worst period in a lifetime. Ibrahimovic himself was 30 and past his prime, he had also never really made an impact in the champions league. His arrival was a statement from PSG that they could rival with the big teams and to set themselves up for continental success within 3 years.

Neymar arrives in ligue 1 at a good time. There has never been this many world class coaches in ligue 1. Garcia at Marseille, Ranieiri at Nantes, Bielsa at Lille, Favre at Nice, Emery at PSG and Jardim at Monaco. And while there has been an exodus at Lyon, most of the teams aforementioned were able to strengthen this year, especially Marseille. Monaco lost 3 key players plus a couple of important squad members, but replaced them with exciting talent such as Youri Tielemans.

Additionally, Neymar also joins a strong PSG side who will surely be one of the favourites for the Champions’ League. On a personal level, if he delivers the Champions League to PSG, he will have a much greater change to win the ballon d’or than had he stayed with Barcelona in Messi’s shadow.

As for La liga and Barcelona’s attitute torward this transfer, it is completely laughable that they complain about the shadiness of this transfer. Let’s remember that Bartomeu had to resign and that this transfer is still shrouded in all kinds of legal shadiness. I wonder what the La Liga president thought about then.
Guillaume (If Bayern, Juventus and Barcelona presidents create an anti-PSG club, should we call it the “prison gang”) Paris


It’s Roman’s fault
This is not going to be the most sexy email but it is an important one. People in the mailbox are adding numbers together at random in an attempt to get into mediawatch clearly.

The acquisition cost of a player is averaged out over the entire life of his contract (including extensions) so currently the 400m wage and transfer package is 80m per year. Now that STILL represents a huge chunk of PSG revenue but i suspect it might not be insurmountable with (1) a couple of well timed player sales and (2) loads of Neymar contract extensions. I think nothing will come of this. It’s increases in Neymar’s wages (or French income tax) that will really turn the screw on PSG in years to come as the transfer fee is more and more diluted.

I think the real question everyone should be asking is where does PSG’s revenue come from and is that OK? As an example, Roman pumped Chelsea full of cash in the early 00’s and FFP was introduced to prevent exactly that type of thing (so apologies – we kind of caused this mess). However, PSG and Man City are now pumping in cash in the same way using lucrative sponsorship contracts. In effect, they are doing exactly what Roman did but via affiliated airline sponsorship. So the real guts for UEFA would be interrogating the revenue of these clubs. Sadly, I also think nothing will come of this either.

In my mind, it has always been and will always be the poor governance of football that sends us all to hell in a hand basket. They are ultimately responsible (and also Roman – sorry).
Charlie, CFC


Spurs able without Kane
The problem with this recurring theory that Spurs are in big trouble should two or three key players suffer serious injuries (this is always caveated with the understanding that such circumstances would hamper any side, and then said caveat is promptly ignored), is that Spurs went 2 separate month long stretches last season with Kane injured and their results were as follows:

P9 W6 D3 L0 which is 2.33 points per game or 89 points over 38 games which is… pretty respectable.

Turns out Heung Min Son is quite good and a defence that concedes 26 goals in 38 games will keep you in a lot of games even with Kane sidelined.
Will, Spurs


I’ve seen a fair few people mention spurs being a couple of injuries away from crisis and I agree, if they did lose Alli and Kane for a considerable amount of time, they would be in trouble. However what would happen to Liverpool if they lost Coutinho and Mane, or Chelsea if they lost Hazard and Kante, United if they lost Lukaku and Pogba, Arsenal if they lost Sanchez and Ozil, City if they lost Silva and Aguero. Basically, if you take the two best players out of any team they are going to struggle, so I find this reason to have a go at Tottenham a little unfair. Personally, the issue Tottenham have is that in the premier league if your not going forwards you are going backwards, there is no standing still and that’s why I’m predicting them to finish sixth behind Liverpool (5th), Arsenal (4th), Chelsea (3rd), United (2nd) and City.
Bernard (just re-read the email and City would probs be ok) MUFC


Sincerely yours, Stan

Your outrage at people protesting against Kroenke’s Arsenal ownership seems a little misguided on a few levels:

– Why should the fact that the PL already has morally bankrupt owners like Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour in place, prevent fans from protesting when similarities occur in their club? Just because their actions are accepted or ignored by one group of supporters doesn’t mean everyone else has to follow the same path.

– While the touch paper to the petition/protests was undoubtedly the launch of the TV channel, I suspect for many people this merely backs up their previous wish for the club to be in the hands of an owner who actually cares about the club, more than just a financial investment, and this is just another straw on the camels back.

– I don’t think the level of ‘endangered-ness’ of the animal is the real issue. Taking enjoyment/glee out of hunting and killing animals who cannot defend themselves, regardless of their population numbers, is simply barbaric behaviour, and not an approach Arsenal should be linked with on any level.

– Of course this is mild on the spectrum of global issues. The same could be said of Neymar’s world record transfer – Relatively speaking, it’s of very little consequence to the huge variety of geo-political issues and discussions that are currently ongoing on a global scale, but there’s a reason that story is splashed over the front pages of every newspaper – because people want to read about it. And maybe discuss it in the mailbox on a football-related website, which in perspective, seems highly appropriate.

Kudos to Storey and Ockley Books for the Portrait of an Icon book. Looking forward to receiving my copy in a fortnight.
Foxy, London.


A footballing disconnect
Anon, West Sussex, +1

I was at the Manyoo v Sampdoria game last night in Dublin and while in the build-up I was excited to see the game and to see how Matic played once I got into the stadium something felt wrong.

The place was near full, about 46,000 people, and 99% of the crowd was in red. The demographic was a mix of family’s bringing the kids, half interested bystanders and Adult Man UTD fans. It was a sea of replica jerseys/Polo Shirts/Jackets etc.

The game itself was poor, as can be expected from a money spinning friendly this close to the start of the season, but what struck me was the atmosphere of the place. This should have been a rare chance for Irish Manyoo fans to see their team and to enjoy the game for what it was but nobody was really watching. Chatter in the stands was on Neymar, the cost of the tickets (€60/€85 a pop) and the price of the pre-game burgers for the family. Meanwhile the millionaires on show passed a ball about a bit, rarely busted a lung and headed off into the sunset.

The abjectness was palpable, nobody cared. Nobody was screaming the team on. Chants were few and far between and the Mexican wave that started in the second half drew the biggest cheer of the night.

The money in football is ruining the elite game but it’s not the fault of the players, clubs, agents or any combination. It’s the feeling that is left behind after the fever pitch of a ‘Big money Deal’. The Neymar deal will have repercussions for the transfer market no doubt, but it might be the final straw that breeds total disillusion? People are struggling, Football was the escape but once the reality of what is happening seeps into the mind it causes reflection on your own life. €225 Million. €650K a week AFTER tax. What are we watching? Neymar will earn the average Salary in Ireland each day before he brushes his teeth. He won’t know the struggle to get a family of 4 to a friendly after Tickets, Food, Jersey etc etc. It can amount to a weekly shopping bill. Families are paying a quarter of a month’s food bill to see guys who can never appreciate what that means.

Hopefully the disillusion brings people back into the local league. Pay to see guys who do know what it’s like to struggle through a month, that you watch on a Friday night and see in the local café the next day rooting for change for a coffee. People that you respect for their superior footballing ability to yours, but that you can also connect with. The real connections that made football the behemoth in the first place. Before it’s too late.
Mark (the use of Neymar is interchangeable with any top player, even the poor chap on only 40K a week) Williamson


Anon, I really am sorry to hear you’re going through the wringer at the moment. Depression can be a living nightmare, and although it seems like there isn’t a solution, I promise you that it is possible to change your thought processes and how you feel about yourself and your family’s lives.

I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion that the Neymar deal is ridiculous, and how football has become detached from reality. I personally feel like it happened a long time ago, but this transfer really shows the Gordon Gekko-ishness mindset of people in the game. Like you, I doubt I’ll ever be able to own a home, and seeing people earn what amounts to literally tons of money can be a swift knee to the emotional nutsack.

If news of this transfer is contributing to your low mood (and in all likelihood, there will be other ludicrous transfer news before the window slams shut) then it might be beneficial for you to find a different use of your time. I know it can be difficult, with any football news gleefully published and re-published while we wait for the season to start. But in the short term, maybe talk to a friend, try some mindfulness, play an addictive game on your phone, go for a walk; these are some things that I found useful for a distraction when I felt like there was no hope. I’m not saying they’re all necessarily going to work for you, but if it helps to draw you away from that dark place then it’s worth a try.

When the season starts I find it’s much easier to experience the game as a form of escapism, and for 90 minutes it doesn’t matter how much they’re being paid; all that matters is us cursing the manager’s decision to play that donkey, or proclaiming the guy we hadn’t heard of 10 minutes ago as the second coming of Pele. I hope things get better for you, and while talking about your problems and putting how you feel into words can be one of the hardest things to do, that’s how the recovery process starts. Stay strong mate.
Andy G


Good email from Anon this morning about his struggles and the disconnect from football- I doubt he is alone in this.

For me though people talking about the size of the fees and wages killing football are barking up the wrong tree. The issue isn’t that prices have escalated but about what it does to the competition. I have no problems with clubs making lots of money and players getting huge wages in isolation. Where it becomes a problem is when the money starts to warp the competition, when the league is not decided on great managers and coaches getting the best from talented players but buy who can spend the most money and pay the biggest wages. This problem has been escalating for years and this current spree is just the next logical stage.

Essentially for years we’ve been fed the lines that football clubs are businesses and thus have the right to make as much money as possible (be it from tickets, commercial opportunities or noodle partnerships) and that they can then spend it on whatever they want. By and large fans, governing bodies and clubs themselves have accepted this. What we seem to have left behind is the fact that clubs have a moral duty to fans and the game itself to try and maintain the spirit of competition that makes any competitive sport interesting. It is unfashionable now to suggest that big clubs might need to look beyond their naked self interest and consider the wider good of football as a whole. Hence why we have situations like the Chelsea ‘farm system’ gaining praise as ‘good business sense’ rather than censure for being against the spirit of the game. Stockpiling players for profit is the future apparently and we just need to get on board. I don’t blame Chelsea for this, they are just smarter than other teams, I blame the wider governing bodies and even the fans for meekly accepting this reality.

From a European perspective I’ve actually enjoyed this Neymar transfer- the big two in Spain have had things their own way for far too long so to see another team getting one over on them is quite satisfying. However for teams in Ligue 1 it must be profoundly depressing to see one team spend the kind of sum on one player that would cover a mid-table teams transfer budget for several years.

Major leagues all over Europe are becoming less and less competitive and it’s driven by the financial might of the top clubs. Bayern have 5 Bundesliga titles in a row, Juve have won Serie A 6 years straight, 9 of the last 10 La Liga titles belong to either Barca or Real and in 25 years the ‘ultra competitive’ Premier League has only produced 6 different winners. How is this healthy for football? If you’re a young person choosing your team why would you choose anyone other than the big clubs knowing it would take a miracle to ever see your team lift a title? People criticise the likes of PSG, City and Chelsea for being ‘new money’ and having ‘no history’ but they’re simply a product of a game so disfigured by money that the only way to be competitive is to hope a billionaire decides they want to chuck $$ at you. Any attempts at building a team in a sustainable manner are rendered pointless as the big boys just pick off your best players as Southampton, Leicester and Monaco fans can attest to.

Anyway this worked out quite a bit longer than I’d planned and I don’t see any way back for football without some form of bursting bubble and subsequent crashing a burning of these teams. I guess I’m just raging against the dying of the light of the game I’ve loved since I was a child.
Charlie H    



Stay with us pal. Maybe not with football (you’re right that it’s gone mad), but find somewhere else to place your passion. Or stay with football and keep writing to the mailbox. You’ve got a good opinion to share. I feel for you and how the hand life has dealt you at this point, but it tends to improve. Stay in touch.
Kevin, MUFC, USA


Is the money that ridiculous?
When these giant transfers are announced, with the immense fees and wages, people react and say things like “Football is broken”, “I’m done with Football”, “It’s too far removed from reality”, etc.

I think it’s worth keeping in mind that there are bigger, more consequential problems with money in the world.

1. The global Derivatives market’s total notional value is sometimes estimated as more than one QUADRILLION USD, despite estimates that Global GDP is around 10x less than that. (For those unaware, Derivatives were what made the 2007 US housing crisis become the 2007 Global Financial Crisis). Why this situation came exists, and whether it’s actually a problem, is complex and too lengthy to write about here, but the quantities involved are worth being aware of. (As it happens, the type of people who own football club Consortia are also the type of people who invest in derivatives).

2. US political campaign spending is spiralling out of control. Tens of millions are being donated by corporations to political campaigns, diluting the voices of average citizens. (As it happens, the type of people who own football clubs are also the type of people who donate millions to politicians).

I know that we watch football for a bit of escapism, among other things, But reacting to out of control transfer fees as though the rest of global finance makes sense might be a lack of perspective.

To talk footie for just a second, I think people are right to be disgusted with the Pogba and Neymar transfers, but nothing to do with the amounts involved. The sad part about these transfers is that Pogba decided to ignore United’s Europa League status (and almost paid the price), while Neymar ignored that PSG in Ligue Un isn’t the right fit, league-wise, for one of the best players in the world in his prime.

Don’t be upset about arbitrary numbers and out of control finances. Do be upset about prioritizing marketing and finances over sporting achievements and prestige.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 


The Messi-Ronaldo transfer scale
I like to see one of the Spanish big two have their players poached as much as the next man but this transfer fee madness is just not sustainable. It is bad for competition, bad for the smaller clubs and bad for supporters who will be expected to pay more. Taken from the UEFA website, “Financial fair play is about improving the overall financial health of European club football”. Read that again and soak it in, because FFP is a joke. How can everybody paying astronomical transfer fees improve the overall financial health of European football?

So what can be done? High-rolling, footloose and fancy-free capitalists won’t approve of this, but there has to be greater financial regulation. Be warned, what follows is a fairly rushed theory that I would whimsically term ‘beer-mat economics’. Note I did not literally sit in a pub scrawling this on the back of a beer-mat, I’m not an animal; would you write on the back of a coaster in your own home?

A limit should be applied to each transfer based on a weighted scale (to be perfected by a boffin at a later date) encompassing current ability (weighted highest), marketability, future resale, age, current contract, position etc (essentially how clubs value a player now); with the best player in the world representing the maximum cap and the others judged against him using the transparent scale to estimate their value. We can call it the Messi-Ronaldo Scale, if only to keep that particular can of worms unopened. Who wants to see it in action? I know, I know, I’m excited too.

Ignore the current levels of transfers and say the regulator estimates that Messi or Ronaldo is worth £100m. I want to purchase Mike Smith (fictional), a talented (20% of £40m) young player (100% of £10m) with little current marketability (10% of £10m) who has 1 year left on his 5 year contract (20% of £30m) and is a defender (50% of £10m) – this gives him a value of £30m. Allow teams to bid up to 10% over this and compete on wages (although restrict these too), the scale changes with inflation or a change of top player, tighter FFP can rumble on in the background, teams can lower their ticket prices, TV companies can lower their subscription fees (less piracy), and I can refocus my energy on something that actually pays my bills. I have even come up with a tag line: #sharethewealthincreasethehealth.

A rising tide may lift all boats but try telling that to those shipwrecked on the ocean floor.
Garey (maybe I have been drinking?) Vance, MUFC  


Dodgy owners
I think it’s a really sad time in football when we are playing the “your owner is a bigger turd bucket than our owner” game – which I’m guilty of as well. What is happening to our beautiful game!!


A prediction
Aside from all the pointless transfer rumours and pre-season predictions, the giddy immature child in predicts something along the lines of the following will happen.

To set the scene: One of either Shakespeare at Leicester, Hughes at Stoke or Bilic at West Ham gets the sack around late November after a disastrous start to the season. In steps ex-Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini to save the day – in more ways than one. This means that we have three managers in the Premier League with extremely similar names: Manuel Pellegrini, Mauricio Pellegrino and Mauricio Pochettino.

Everyone then forgets about all the actual football going on and only tunes in to MOTD and Soccer Saturday to watch Shearer, Merson, Sutton, Keown, Nicholas et al struggle like hell to get any of their names right, resulting in this merged fictional manager called Mauriciel Pochegrino.

Their ineptitude leads to hilarity as Mauriciel Pochegrino is both exceeding expectations at the same time as struggling to get a result. He is chastised for not buying at the same time as selling his best player. This comedy of errors culminates in the three managers having to arrange a joint press conference for all the PFMs and tabloid journalists to phonetically spell each of their names slowly and carefully. The S*n runs with a headline of ‘The Three Stooges’ accompanied with some mildly offensive stereotypical cartoon (getting one of their nationalities wrong in the process) and one of them sues and wins. The damages awarded are too high for The S*n to cope and eventually they have to cease circulation. F365 Towers jump for joy, Fat Man Scouse has an epiphany about his views and Guy S is now an Everton Fan because Rooney.

I’m not sure where that all came from, but please sweet jesus let it happen.
Lee (The world’s gone mad – trying to lighten the mood), LFC

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