Last week, Michael Laudrup said some pretty interesting things about Michu’s transfer value that, at the time, didn’t seem so interesting:
“Well, to be honest, I’m not the one putting the price tag on him.
“We all know the situation – the general economic situation in the world – so there really aren’t that many clubs who can buy him.
“There are some here (in England). In Spain there are only two and I think Barcelona and Real Madrid have enough players. Italy, I don’t think so. They’re trying to sell.
“Bayern Munich in Germany so really there is only few, few clubs and Michu likes it here.
“He’s happy with the team where he is so I’m really not afraid that something is going to happen because I’m so sure he will stay with us for the next five or six months.
“I don’t know in the summer, but still I can’t really see who could sign him. I don’t know how much he’s worth. Ask my chairman.
Laudrup is essentially saying no one can afford Michu’s apparently astronomical transfer fee because, like Vasquez, he’s just too bad.
But then this essentially means, for the time being, he’s priceless. The issue however is what happens when Swansea want to sell Michu (for whatever reason) when no clubs are looking for players and the European economy is still shit.
It’s commonly assumed that clubs get rid of players because either they’re not very good anymore, the manager doesn’t believe the player is a “good fit”, or the player wants to leave. In the first case, they’ll likely be content to lose money in the net transfer if only to offload wasted salary money.
In the second case, it’s a straight up sell for as much as possible.
In the third case—well, that’s the stuff of classic transfer window wheeling and dealing. If the club is in a position of squad strength, they’ll likely follow the same strategy as in the second case.
If they actually need the player to win actual football matches however—as was the case today when Arsenal finally resolved their on-going contract negotiations with Theo Walcott, securing his services for £100,000—the club would need to walk a delicate line between weighing potential offers and working to secure a new contract for a fair price.
But what if the market is so bad that even a marquee player like Theo Walcott can’t be offloaded for a price that would offset the potential loss of a skilled forward?
There are already rumours however that Wenger finally agreed to meet Walcott’s demands because nobody wanted him at a price that could justify his value to Arsenal, particularly because of the likely “English premium,” the notorious transfer fee add-on for England internationals.
Maybe Wenger couldn’t find a buyer at the right price for the exact reasons Laudrup laid out: the market is terrible, Europe’s in a recession, and CL clubs have enough on their plate with Financial Fair Play to worry about.
All this would lead one to suspect that as clubs find they’re unable to find buyers offering the right price for good players, transfer fees will likely decrease as player wages increase. Transfer windows will involve fewer deals, and the threat of losing valuable revenue on free transfers will increase, putting pressure on clubs to offer players lucrative new contracts.
I’m not an accountant, but I suspect it’s better for clubs to increase wages within reason than lose potentially tens of millions of pounds of value in amortization payments on the transfer market.