Players and Managers Speak Out On Football Transfers and Expectations

As the transfer market surges, players being purchased at extortionate prices is the new normal in the footballing world. The fees clubs are demanding for players seem to get higher each and every year. The most expensive player in world football is currently Neymar Jr, who signed for Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for a fee of €222m in 2017.

A player’s pricetag is often mentioned in conversations when it comes to how they perform throughout the season, and after a while, they are usually labelled that they are worth the price or classed as a flop by the media and fans.

Jack Grealish spoke on this topic when joining Manchester City from Aston Villa for £100 million: “Everyone’s like ‘Jack Grealish what a great player’ and now I’ve come here, last season I scored six goals — three in the Premier League — but it becomes a massive talking point because of the price tag.”

Are the price tag and expectations the player’s fault?

When it comes down to the player and their price, it is down to the club signing them, and what they value the player to be deemed appropriate, a player’s market value, and what they are purchased for are two different things that are often confused. Situations are different in each and every transfer that can directly affect the transfer fee, some examples are; contract expiry, age, league, nationality, and popularity.

New Arsenal signing Declan Rice comments on his £105 million move from West Ham, he said: “I can’t control what I’m bought for. I’ve not really thought about the price tag once. I’ve been brought to Arsenal for a reason, that’s to perform, play and to win trophies.”

It is something that is the main talking point of a transfer, in the headlines of articles, and a topic of conversation when referring to whether they are a good signing for their new club. It is a shame to see how things have changed where the mere mention of a player’s ability has to come alongside their price which was discussed by the clubs in the deal which is out of their control.

From Jack Grealish’s point of view, he said “At the end of the day, that was my release clause, that’s what Villa thought I was worth. Man City paid that for me.”

Does it affect players?

Something widely mentioned by both the media and pundits when a player is not performing is their price tag, each and every player deals with the negativity differently, and it is expected when coming into a league like the Premier League. One of the renowned examples is Paul Pogba, who rejoined Manchester United for £89 million, he was the most expensive player in the world at the time.

Pogba said: “Because it was the biggest transfer in history at the time, you get judged differently. They expect more from you because of the price tag,” adding “I knew it would come with the price tag. I knew there would be a big impact. But I didn’t know it would go so negative. When I signed, I wasn’t used to seeing so many negative comments.”

Even when someone like Paul Pogba would have a good game, he was always expected to perform better. There was always something extra that could be added to his game. Graeme Souness was renowned for this, and as soon as Pogba was announced he was straight on the point about how much he was bought for, saying “Paul Pogba’s not that, He has the potential to be a top midfield player, but that still wouldn’t put him in that price bracket.”

For younger players in particular, it would be a factor in your mind when you step foot onto the pitch, knowing the media and others are waiting to pounce on you for any mistake made.

Should it be in the conversation when evaluating a player’s ability?

A player who has been a victim of this due to his price is Nicolas Pépé, who joined Arsenal from Lille for £72 million, a club record fee. He put up 8 goals and 10 assists in all competitions in his first season for the club, and with 16 goals and 5 assists in his second season, he was a huge part of Arsenal’s success in the FA Cup.

Looking at the numbers with no information about the player, you would think he is a decent contributor to the club, however, this was portrayed differently due to the price he was purchased for. He was expected to perform a lot better. If he was purchased for around £40 million the reaction would be very different. Mikel Arteta commented “He is not responsible for the price a club pays for him. He has tried everything, his attitude and the way he is, is just phenomenal.”

Rasmus Højlund has joined Manchester United for a fee of £72 million and is already the next player to be hit with the price tag conversation. Before he has even put a United shirt on he is being questioned about his ability. Italian football experts, Mina Rzouki and Nicky Bandini state they “wouldn’t be confident spending that amount.” The pressure is already being set on the 20-year-old. Brentford manager Thomas Frank said he hopes “…he will do very well at Manchester United, of course, it’s a big price tag and a new league.” We will have to see if this impacts his confidence throughout his time at the club.

Ability shouldn’t be matched with how much a player was purchased for, and they shouldn’t be expected to perform better or worse than others due to a fee they were sold for set by their former club, unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse as time gets on, as prices continue to increase, so will expectations of players’ ability to perform.

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