‘A footballer in a very difficult position,’ says the Sporting director of a Premier League club, while ‘one of the most important players in the club’s history’, talks of the difficulty of managing him – and moving him on.
The story follows our ongoing report on the auctioneer in the City and the auctioneer in the stadium, so it follows the same theme.
All of this inside information appears to emerge from conversations between Sport on Sunday and people involved in the transfer market.
Our payments editor has looked at invoices for “striker”, “striker’s agent”, and “striker’s transfer fee” – the same sort of process which may have been followed in previous seasons.
PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated the average value of a transfer fee at £24.2m in 2013, £33.4m in 2014, £34.5m in 2015 and £35.4m in 2016.
Players on high wages could see things different
“The window tends to stay the same year after year, they are usually at the bigger clubs and there are sort of wage issues,” says Peter Laird, head of digital at sports database company Opta.
“That’s why the price can fluctuate a lot, because the top four or five clubs have high wage bills and are cash-strapped and are trying to squeeze every drop out of every player.”
By contrast, when France finished third at Euro 2016, they had only just brought Karim Benzema back from suspension, so the bulk of their team had been assembled over the previous 24 months.
“The French team wasn’t that high-paid – they’ve still got Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, whereas I’ve seen one or two other countries use much less strikers,” says Mr Laird.
So does that mean English clubs can consider asking for £50m for a striker this summer?
“No, it’s not about the big wages,” says Steve Clough, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial services regulator.
“The England manager and the FA will sit down with the manager of the clubs to say what the wages are and they will try to mitigate that.”
To take the lead out of the arguments if Premier League clubs start writing out big cheques this month, here are some of the players on the market so far…