Manchester United are edging closer to a deal to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus for a cool £100million. If the signing is confirmed, then it would make the Frenchman the most expensive footballer ever.
The transfer fee of £100million would place Pogba as the most expensive player ever bought by an English club and nearly double that of the previous record holder – the easily forgettable purchase of Angel di Maria by Manchester United.
— Nihar Mehta (@Nihar_Mehta) July 27, 2016
Pogba was a runner-up this summer with France in the European Championships and last year was placed tenth in the 2015 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. His physical presence on the field is undeniable and, at 6 foot 3 inches, his gangly yet sublimely co-ordinated physique has earnt him the nickname ‘Il Polpo Paul’ (Paul the Octopus). Pogba holds the heart of a midfield and conducts those around him with enigmatic prowess beyond his years. His explosive yet controlled style has drawn comparisons with ex-Arsenal captain and compatriot Patrick Vieira.
— Arjun Pradeep (@IndianRegista) July 27, 2016
The plaudits, stats and favourable comparisons all suggest that this acquisition, though incomparably expensive, is a wise investment.
But Pogba used to play for Manchester United. He’s worn the shirt before. He represented the club at an academy and reserve level for three years having discordantly left Le Havre in 2009. Sir Alex Ferguson failed to tie him down long term and, at the end of the season in 2012, Pogba signed a contract with Juventus. He left Manchester United for free.
— Chris Walters (@Waltz21) June 30, 2014
Four years and four managers later, United are now seeking to pay £100million to reacquire the 23 year-old’s talents which makes the amount of money seem even more unbelievable. But is it as ludicrous as it seems? How does it compare with the once-considered-crazy purchases of yesteryear?
Trevor Francis was England’s first £1million footballer. Signed by Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest in 1979 at a time when the average house price in the UK was £18,000. Trevor Francis cost Forest the equivalent of 55 houses. Even with the most generous approximations, Pogba will still cost United more than 500 three-bedroom end of terrace semi-detached houses with private gardens and loft conversions. Even using the fairly benign and pointless ‘Historic Inflation Calculator’ which, interestingly, uses annual RPI inflation to find modern equivalents to historic amounts of money, Francis’ transfer is only worth just over £5million today. Verdict: The cost of football transfers have gone through the roof.
— Lee (@B35ty8769) July 26, 2016
The market settled for a few years until 1995 when Manchester United shovelled out £7million to sign Andy Cole from Newcastle. That year, the biggest grossing film was Die Hard and it made £278million at the box office. As a comparison, last year Star Wars: The Force Awakens made £1,576million. Cole was worth 2% of Die Hard’s earnings whilst Pogba is worthy of 6% of Star War’s takings. Verdict: modern transfer values are astronomical and out of this world.
While the real world is looking down the back of the sofa, football burns money for a laugh | Rob Smyth https://t.co/zGXloeTJk2
— Matthew Bowell (@mattbowell) July 27, 2016
The transfer record took another leap only the next year when Newcastle United snapped up Alan Shearer from Blackburn for £15million at the end of the 1995-96 season. Sky TV held exclusive TV rights for the Premier League that season and paid out approximately £38million in order to broadcast 60 games. Fast-forward to today and it is still Sky TV, now joined by BT, that broadcast the Premier League but they paid a total of £1,002million for the season. Shearer equates to a 38% share of the TV rights whereas Pogba’s would only be worth 10%. Relative to the amount of money being fed into the Premier League by the broadcasting companies, Shearer’s value seems considerably higher than Pogba’s. When compared to petrol price per litre however, Alan was worth 6.2 million gallons of the stuff whereas Pogba’s potential fee, twenty years later, is worth 21.7 million gallons of petrol. Verdict: £100million for Pogba might be fuelish.
A socialist sport has become an orgy of unashamed, self-congratulatory avarice. | Rob Smyth https://t.co/N1mcEVeCX5
— OMGLOLWTF (@OMGLOLWTF) July 27, 2016
The next great swell occurred six years later when Manchester United purchased Rio Ferdinand for nearly £30million in July 2002. That summer, the average Premier League footballer was earning £16,000 per week whilst today’s players can expect weekly earnings in the region of £44,000. Rio’s fee was equal to 1,875 weeks’ earnings whilst Pogba’s equates to 2,272 weeks’ worth. So not too dissimilar there. The summer Ferdinand celebrated moving to Manchester however, pints of lager, on average, cost £2.09 whilst, if Pogba moves there this summer, he will have to fork out around £3.10. Ferdinand was worth 14million pints while Pogba will be worth 32million pints. Verdict: drafting in Pogba might leave a bitter taste in United’s mouth.
— Duncan Drasdo (@Drasdo) July 20, 2016
In 2009, Carlos Tevez cost Manchester City £47.5million which signified the next noteworthy hike in prices and led the way for other fees in this region (Sterling for £49million, Torres for £50million, De Bruyne for £55million and Di Maria for £59.7million). Back in ’09 the National Lottery only cost £1 a ticket making Carlos worth 47.5million of them but nowadays you have to part with £2 per ticket making Paul worth 50million tickets. Verdict: Less of a lottery than signing Tevez.
Other players have cost English teams similar sums of money to these few but Francis, Shearer, Cole, Ferdinand and Tevez are all examples of when the record has increased dramatically and Pogba’s acquisition would certainly be listed amongst these.
Remember: Pogba accepted contract offer from Man United some weeks ago, he wants Man Utd, so he's just waiting news by Raiola soon #MUFC
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 27, 2016
One thing is clear and that is that the record transfer fee will continue to be smashed. If history teaches us anything, it’s that the record rarely lasts long and, when it is beaten, it’s significantly eclipsed and usually by a fee up to twice as much. It is therefore not unlikely that, by the end of next season, English clubs will be dishing out sums of money in the region of £180million. August 2017: Gareth Bale to United for £175million. You heard it here first.