Manchester City’s recent capture of Tottenham defender, Kyle Walker, for a reported fee of £54 million , has made the English right-back the most expensive defender and Englishman in history.
Walker is a fine player and offers something completely different to the players that City have had in his position in recent seasons. But the extortionate price tag that accompanied him suggests that the Premier League spending is reaching new ridiculous heights.
Premier League spending has already hit £630 million with over seven weeks still to go; that £1 billion barrier, burst for the first time last summer, appears to be well on its way to being smashed once again. And, it is becoming increasingly likely that the first 100 million-pound player will be bought by a team in England football’s top-tier. Clubs seemingly are trying to bankroll their way to the title even more than in previous seasons.
“Every Premier League club now has more money and are willing to spend that on players,” Chris Stenson, a senior consultant from Deloitte’s sports business group
Paying over the odds
Everton, for example, are nearing the astonishing £100 million mark for the first time in their history. Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, recently signed for Manchester United for a £75 million fee – a remarkable figure for a striker who goes missing in big games. Versus Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham over the past three seasons, Lukaku has played 30 matches – and scored just three goals.
Walker’s fee proves even more shocking when considering that Leonardo Bonucci – a vital part of Juventus’ recent title-winning exploits – has just moved to AC Milan for £30 million. Bonucci may well be 30 years of age and Walker only 27, but does three years really constitute reason for an extra 24 million pounds?
Gary Lineker summed up this state of affairs when he joked on Twitter on Friday night: “Imagine how much he would cost if he could cross the ball”.
Dani Alves recently rejected City for a move to PSG (who wouldn’t choose Paris over Manchester?). Sheikh Mansour – the City chairman – has seemingly given Guardiola the green light to spend big in a blatant panic to bring a decent right-back to the club. The need for a right-back is especially relevant after City released Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy earlier this summer. But that is all Walker is; a decent right-back, not world-class and certainly not worth over 50 million pounds.
Walker, last season, even recorded lower figures for distance covered than all of City’s fullbacks, excluding Sagna. Surely, then, if Bonucci is worth ‘only’ £30 million, then Walker should be around half the price that City paid for him.
Premier League far behind
But, this is the Premier League all over; spend, spend, and spend some more. Yet this still has not delivered success on an international stage. 2012 was the last time an English team got to the Champions League final, where Chelsea surprisingly triumphed against Bayern Munich.
This English failure is all-the-more embarrassing when considering that Leicester City – on the back of their astonishing title victory in the 2015-2016 season – were the only team to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals in the last campaign.
Premier League spending to continue
With Premier League spending hitting new heights, it remains to be seen whether Walker will be a hit on the blue side of Manchester. A fine player on his day with speed in abundance and an ability to play as an inverted full-back or wing-back, appears to make Walker a match made in heaven with Guardiola.
Yet, this cannot justify a £54 million price tag. Such inflated prices have not put teams off spending big as Tiemoue Bakayoko nears a £42 million move to Chelsea and with rumours of a £70 million Chelsea bid for Alvaro Morato. It is likely, therefore, that Walker’s fee may well prove to a mere drop in the Premier League ocean when the transfer window closes at the end of August.