Is spending big money in the transfer market even worth it?
The European transfer market, especially the final hours of the window, can be an incredibly exciting time for football fans. But how influential are these summer recruits and what affect do they actually have on a team’s finishing position in the league by the end of the season?
Critics argue that the window should be closed before the football commences and it’s hard to argue with that logic. Every summer there are a number of sagas that drag on and clubs, players and fans can all become unsettled when speculation mounts. The end result culminates in lots of panic buys as managers try to replace their stars at the last minute and many wonder if it’s all worth it. The 2015/16 window has finally closed, after Premier League clubs have parted with an astronomical £850m, but is it always money well spent?
Many clubs like Arsenal have been heavily criticised due to their lack of summer spending when many would say they urgently needed to bring in a ‘top class’ striker. But does splashing the cash on players in this window really make all the difference? Yes it’s hard to argue that signing Lionel Messi on transfer deadline day wouldn’t induce a positive effect but research has been carried out in the market to see whether such flagrant spending does correlate with final league positioning and interestingly enough the results may surprise a few.
Of course there are lots of variables to consider. Squads that are rebuilding in an attempt to compete may not secure instantaneous results so it’s difficult to gage whether or not their outlay has been significantly beneficial. However, for the ‘elite’ teams, with squads full of world-class talent already, spending £100m doesn’t guarantee anything. Take Manchester United for example, after spending £122m last season (the highest in the league) they finished 4th. Conversely, Manchester City were the 6th highest spenders and finished second. Stoke City, with the lowest outlay of all Premier League clubs finished 9th.
The theory can also be applied at the other end of the table too. Newcastle United spent £37.8m in the 2014/15 window and just managed to avoid relegation to the Championship for the second time in just a few years.
Spending large amounts of money isn’t always about league positioning, however. When Real Madrid purchased Gareth Bale for that world record fee last summer, it was viewed as an investment off the field just as much as it was on it. Madrid have a history of signing players for their commercial viability, and whilst nobody is doubting that Bale is a very good footballer, there’s no hiding the fact that the Madrid hierarchy factored in his marketing potential. A year is a long time in football too, and, after his initial impact, Bale has struggled to live up to that outlay or emulate the Real Madrid greats with his performances.
With transfer spending in Europe looking set to increase even further in the coming years, particularly in the Premier League owing to the new TV deal, clubs would be wise to seriously consider whether or not spending large amounts in some instances is the best approach.