Inflation has increased prices by approximately 168% in the last three decades. One pound in 1990 is worth £2.37 in 2018. In the world of football, that same £1 would be worth £40 now.
According to The Times, football transfer fees in the Premier League have increased 40-fold since 1990.
Last year alone saw the transfer record double from £89m to £198m as Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain. That’s more than four times what it was before Kaká became the world’s most expensive player in 2009.
The Premier League transfer window will come to a premature end on Thursday at 5pm BST. Clubs have agreed to end the window three weeks earlier than usual to coincide with the start of the Premier League season.
However, as the transfer window gets shorter, the money that switches hands has continued to grow. Transfer fees above £50m are now the norm, with top level players now going for upwards of £75m.
To highlight how out of control prices are in football’s increasingly-overpriced transfer market, Verdict compares what clubs are prepared to pay in the modern day to what the same money would have bought them in the past.
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Barcelona wants to pay £100m for Paul Pogba. In 1989, you could buy Manchester United for £20m.
Talk of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, signed for a record-breaking £89m fee in 2016, joining Barcelona before the deadline has been rife in recent days, as super-agent Mino Raiola attempts to orchestrate another big-money move.
According to reports, any deal would be worth around £100m, which, due to inflation, equated to around £39.2m in 1989.
That was the year when Michael Knighton came agonisingly close to purchasing Manchester United for £20m. The deal would have gone through if it wasn’t for backlash from the fans.
Essentially, one Pogba today would have bought you two Manchester United’s three decades ago.
Chelsea will pay £72m to release prospect Kepa Arrizabalaga from his Athletic Bilbao contract. In 2001, Juventus paid £33m for one of the best ever keepers.
Chelsea are on the verge of completing a deal for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, having agreed to pay his buyout clause of approximately £72m.
Once completed, the 23-year-old Spaniard will become the most expensive goalkeeper in the sport’s history, breaking the record for the second time this summer.
Prior to last summer’s transfer window, Italian icon Gianluigi Buffon held the record for some 17 years following his 2001 transfer to Juventus.
The deal, worth £33m, would equate to around £53m today. That was for a player that had already played 168 games at the highest level and led his team to Coppa Italia, Italian SuperCup and UEFA Cup trophies by the age of 23. Likewise, he had already made 21 appearances for his country, including in key World Cup qualification games.
While Arrizabalaga has the potential to be a top player, he has played just 53 games at the highest level. Likewise, he has no senior trophies to his name and has been capped by Spain on just one occasion. And yet, his transfer value suggests that he is worth 36% more than Buffon was at the same age.
Manchester United want Harry Maguire for £65m. In 1990, that would have bought you a selection of England’s best players.
Harry Maguire has seen his stock rocket following the 2018 World Cup. While there was little impact on his brand value, his transfer value has climbed from £17m in 2017 to above £60m a year later.
That is undoubtedly the result of England’s surprise run to the World Cup semi-final. A defeat to Croatia ended any hopes of England bringing it home, but the performance was still a far better showing than anyone predicted.
According to reports that have persisted since England returned home from the World Cup, Manchester United are willing to pay £65m to land the 25-year-old centre back.
With that valuation, back in 1990 when England last reached a World Cup semi-final, Maguire’s value would have stood at around £27.4m. In the four years surrounding the 1990 World Cup, that money would have bought Manchester United a selection of England’s best players.
One Maguire would have been worth Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, David Seaman, Peter Beardsley and Terry Butcher combined.
Arsenal are weighing up a £100m offer for Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele. In 2009, that would have bought you one of the world’s two best players.
Barcelona talent Ousmane Dembele is reportedly frustrated by the club’s decision to sign Malcom, a player that he feels puts his position in the team under threat. Having made just 24 appearances for the club following his €105m switch last season, the La Liga side could look to recoup the money that they splashed on the largely unproven 21-year-old.
According to reports, Arsenal could be his potential destination. It has been suggested that he will be signed on a loan deal worth £10m, with the club then paying an additional £90m next summer to make the switch permanent.
Dembele offers plenty of promise. He showed that during his year with Borussia Dortmund in the 2016/17 season. In the German Bundesliga, he scored six goals and provided 13 assists. That isn’t a bad return, but not exactly what you would expect for £100m.
To put that deal into perspective, back in 2009 Real Madrid paid Manchester United £80m to secure the signature of Cristiano Ronaldo. With inflation, that fee would equate to around £101m in today’s money.
By that time, Ronaldo’s trophy cabinet contained three Premier League medals and a Champions League title. He was already a Ballon d’Or winner and had scored 26 goals and added 12 assists in 53 games in the previous season. The season before that he had netted 42 goals and provided eight assists in 49 games.