By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke
Silly season has been getting sillier and sillier over the last few years, with the Neymar transfer to PSG skewing the market to such an extent where teams like Everton can spend £50 million on a relatively unproven Richarlison.
Whilst the Neymar transfer was a ‘flash in the pan’ type deal, mega-rich Paris Saint Germain remain possibly the only team with the ability to afford such an expense without the need to sell.
Despite this, Liverpool’s use of the transfer market has massively shifted the goalposts for other teams who wish to flesh-out their squads with any quality.
Rewind to January 2018 – Liverpool’s need for a centre back reached boiling point with error-prone Dejan Lovren and injury-laden Joël Matip leaving the Reds desperate for quality reinforcement in that position.
The world record £75m fee for a defender stumped-up for Dutch centre back Van Dijk not only plugged Liverpools leaky defence, it set a new benchmark across football.
For any club seeking a centre back of European prowess, fees in excess of £50 million will be demanded regularly.
With the TV rights revenue weighted heavily towards the Premier League (in 2016, the Premier League earned £2 billion more than La Liga purely from TV revenue), going forward teams in Italy, Germany and most notably Spain could be playing a constant game of catch up.
The world record goalkeeper signing of Alisson for a whopping £67m, almost double that of previous record holder Gianluigi Buffon at £35m, further raised the bar regarding clubs looking for a new stopper.
So-called ‘selling clubs’, as a result of the Alisson deal, can rightly and legitimately demand sums that would dwarf that of the Buffon transfer more regularly, pricing out clubs of other leagues that do not possess the financial luxury that the Premier League holds.
Over time, therefore, the Spanish dominance in European competitions is at serious risk of seeing a dramatic decline, with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and the ageing of superstar Lionel Messi proving to be a major catalyst in their downfall.
The heavy marketing reliance on Messi and Ronaldo has helped keep both Barcelona and Real Madrid in a healthy financial position, receiving around a third between them of the total broadcasting money paid out to Spanish La Liga clubs.
However, with times swiftly changing, ambitious teams such as Liverpool are changing the face of football and the transfer market to the point where Florentino Perez’s ‘Galacticos’ of Madrid could be a thing of the past.
Premier League sides are ready to take over the European spending and success mantle, and Liverpool may just find themselves at the top of the pile.