Transfer Chains: From Pogba to Higuain and how one transfer affects another

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba

Transfer windows in the current time and age are akin to a season in itself. Whereas in earlier times off season was considered a getaway from the usual brouhaha of the ferocious August to May dogfight, the status quo now is to expend as much energy in the muddle of the transfer window as possible, and come away with non-existent winners and losers medals at the end of it.

Money has never been in such great supply in the beautiful game, and football clubs are creating the impression of being blinded by the enormous riches being thrown their way with consumption of the sport, both locally and globally, on an all-time high. Transfer records are broken on a weekly basis, and the game’s capitalist forces continue to determine the fate of the food chain.

Pogba money funding Higuain’s transfer?

When Gonzalo Higuain was signed by Juventus in a move that defied the Bianconeri’s recent business model of not spending exorbitant amounts of money on a single player, it initiated what we should call a chain of transfers that finally culminated in the world record Paul Pogba to Manchester United transfer. The flow of money here is clear: Juve flush 90m down Napoli’s coffers which is then used by the Partenopei to bring in Ajax’s Arkadiusz Milik for 32m, Napoli’s second biggest outlay on a single player.

The money spent by Juve was offset nicely by the 105m received for Pogba, who moved to the moneyed dreamlands of the Premier League. Swap deals are much talked about by excitable news outlets and papers but rarely happen; what really happens is that one transfer (usually a big one) creates a ripple effect down the food chain where either the superior club (Juve) recoup their initial investment or the inferior club (Napoli) utilise the money they receive to bridge the gap in quality created by the transfer.

This leaves Manchester United with a potential Ballon d’Or player and an instant upgrade of their profile which in turn attracts greater capital into the club. Being one of the biggest brands in world football, Manchester United needed their timely dose of a player of Pogba’s mould; after Cristiano Ronaldo there has been none at United. Pogba was the only Serie A player in the last two seasons to make the Ballon d’Or shortlist. As James Horncastle pointed, a win-win situation for all parties.

The John Stones Domino Effect

Manchester City haven’t sat tight in their couch all summer as their cross town rivals brought in one big name after another, and their desire to make the young, defensively uneducated John Stones the most expensive British defender has triggered another set of transfers if we look at it top down. Everton, the main beneficiaries of City’s £47.5m written off their books, have quickly put the money received into bringing in the 31-year-old Euro 2016 semifinalist and an apparently better defender Ashley Williams from Swansea City.

Not only Williams, Everton are also close to finalising Yannick Bolasie’s move to Merseyside from Crystal Palace in a club record £28m transfer, which again sets off another chain of transfers. Palace, armed with the Bolasie money, can go out and buy Christian Benteke from Liverpool, who can again put that money into use by plugging holes in their defence. It is effectively a domino effect triggered by Manchester City, with various clubs beneficiaries of their generosity including the likes of Barnsley and Bristol City.

And some of that Stones money might go full circle and end up at City should Everton make advances for Wilfried Bony to replace Chelsea-bound Romelu Lukaku. All of that is speculation as I pen this, but nothing can be ruled out. That is modern football in a nutshell; a particular transfer setting off a series of other transfers with money being no barrier, and quite often the bigger fish feasts on a smaller fish and this goes on until we reach the smallest fish in the pond.

Transcending Divisions

Dwellers of Premier League’s lower houses like Palace and Bournemouth have also indulged in sorts of chained transfers that might look isolated at first glance, but are interconnected with divisions being crossed over as money flows like never before in the Premier League as well as the Championship. Newcastle United have bought the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame from Premier League clubs while sending Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend up a division.

Rough depiction of a transfer chain
Rough depiction of a transfer chain

Bournemouth used the £11m received for Ritchie from Newcastle to fund Jordon Ibe’s move from Liverpool, who in turn effectively used the £15m Ibe money to prise Wijnaldum away from St James’ Park. On the other hand, Palace used most of the £10m Gayle money received from Newcastle to land Townsend, a move that virtually seemed like a player swap deal with neither club netting any significant profit. The aforementioned transfers aren’t directly linked, but it is clear how they have affected one another.

For every Wanyama there is a Hojbjerg somewhere out there, and likewise for every Kante there is a Mendy, for every Ayew there is a Baston and for every Skrtel there is a Klavan. The astronomical rise in the Premier League’s money has heralded an era of newer possibilities for its clubs; even the most frugal of clubs have set about acquiring new players riding the gravy train, and the wads of cash trickling down the ladder have encouraged those with insignificant standing to raise their profiles, and what better way to do it than by making a statement in the transfer window, the proverbial winners medal.

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