Football Transfers – Waiting For a New Record

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Every summer, when the workforce (footballers) is on a break, the money wheel of football transfers starts to turn.

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This year’s top story: Real Madrid snubbing of Gareth Bale. Will the world transfer record be broken or not? Let’s leave the discussions of the right and the wrong price for the above mentioned footballer and the moral dilemma of the hyper inflated football prices in general, and focus on the history and evolution of a football transfer.

Football wasn’t always about multi-million deals, players demanding moves and agents touting their clients around the globe. It started with £100. Scot Willie Groves was the very first player to be transferred for a three-figure sum when he moved from West Bromwich Albion to Aston Villa for £100 in 1893. Fast forward to 2013 and multiply that amount by 1,000,000 and you’ll get the asking price of Tottenham Hotspur owner for Gareth Bale. The current record is still Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80,000,000 million move to Real Madrid in 2009.

CR7’s transfer greater than first 33 record breakers together

In between the record has exchanged hands 41 times across 12 countries all over the world. The list includes some sparkling names; Roberto Baggio, Ruud Gullit, Johan Cruyff, (the original) Ronaldo and Gianluca Vialli, to name only a few. Diego Maradona broke it twice in a row – first moving from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for £3million in 1982 and almost doubling that two years later when he moved to Napoli for £5m.

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Of course Europe is dominating the statistics, yet South America is represented by its three World Champions, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. England dominated the spending in the first half of the 20th century but since 1951 Alan Shearer is the only Briton to subject to a record deal – when he moved from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle for £15m in 1996. Italy leads the way as record breakers. They have sold the most expensive player on the planet 13 times, bought the most expensive player on the planet 18 times. Nine Italians have been recorded as the most expensive signing in the World.

The last record belongs to Spain or better said to Real Madrid. Having never previously paid a record breaking transfer fee, Real Madrid have paid the last four since 2000, for Luis Figo (£37m), Zinedine Zidane (£53m), Kaka (£56m) and Ronaldo – and could be about to break it for a fifth consecutive time. The fee for Ronaldo’s transfer is greater than the first 33 record breakers all added together.

Romanian player sold for … 500kg of pork

However, the money doesn’t always reflect the quality of the signing. Every country and every league in the world has its own statistics of great or failed football transfers.  As an example consider Patrick Viera‘s transfer from AC Milan to Arsenal in 1996 for £3,5m. He won 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 Community Shields, and won more honours with France and individually. He also captained Arsenal during the ‘invincible’ season. The other side of the table is represented by Denílson de Oliveira Araújo. Back in 1998 he became the most expensive player in the entire world when Real Betis paid São Paulo $32m for his services.

But it didn’t really work out the way it was supposed to. After spending seven years failing to live up to that price tag, Denílson decided to wander the earth. He spent single seasons (or sometimes less) at Bordeaux, Al-Nasr in Saudi Arabia, FC Dallas (as arguably the least successful Designated Player in MLS history), back to Brazil with Palmeiras, an unsuccessful trial with Bolton Wanderers and in the end at Vietnamese team Xi Măng Hải Phòng.

Football is often the mirror of everyday life, as success and disappointment are the key elements of both. What will happen with Gareth Bale and his record braking move to Real Madrid? Will he follow the likes of Patrick Viera or fail the great expectations of everyone, as it happened to Denilson? Only time will tell. The only certain thing is that Real Madrid will pay a huge amount of money. A lot more that was paid for Romanian midfielder Ion Radu, sold by Second Division Jiul Petrosani to Valcea in 1998 for 500kg of pork (Worth about £1750).

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