Transfers

Where Europe’s big-money, low-value quartet could end up this summer

 • by Mark Thompson
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

Mo’ money, mo’ problems… particularly when one doesn’t have a sound understanding of the market forces which help predict the future impact of a monetary windfall.

Around Europe, the explosion in television revenue and gulf state investment in football has left several clubs with players they’re struggling to shift.

The January transfer window saw rumours that Arsenal would pay some of Mesut Özil’s wages to tempt another club to make a move for him. Alexis Sánchez is causing a similar headache for Manchester United. And in Spain, Gareth Bale and Philippe Coutinho are cashing cheques their form, so far, doesn’t deserve.

Being able to pay more money than any other club can afford is a great way to get, or keep, star players. But having paid more money than any club is able to afford is a real hindrance if those stars quickly fade.

There were rumblings around several of the previously mentioned players last summer, and even more, louder, tremors in January. But nothing happened.

June and July 2019 could be the months when an earthquake of punctured hubris rips open European football’s balance books. So what would these four clubs and these four players have to do to successfully move?

Mesut Özil

Age next season: 30
Contract expiry: Summer 2021

Özil is obviously a fantastic creative talent. He’s consistently one of the best in the league for key passes and expected goals assisted. He’s also consistently in the bottom ten per cent of Premier League midfielders for tackle and interception attempts.

There’s a theory, written about previously on Football Whispers, that an emphasis on pressing has rendered the creative No.10s of Özil’s mold obsolete. Players in that position need to press now. For the stars who need to be carried defensively, that’s not a good thing.

The German is averaging 0.41 expected goals and expected goals assisted this season for Arsenal, which is outside of the league’s top 50. A new club would need to accept this level of output — or lower, depending on how he ages — while having other attackers do extra work to make up for Özil’s languidity.

Current asking price/wage: Unknown/£350,000 per week
Will probably have to settle for: A token fee/£100,000-£120,000 per week

Type of club he could end up at: Sides looking to secure Champions League status that can afford one or two good years from a former star they’ll have to carry defensively.

Gareth Bale

Age next season: 30
Contract expiry: Summer 2022

Real Madrid fans hoped that the Welshman would be able to fill the goalscoring hole left by Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. He hasn’t.

Eight goals (seven, if you take out his one penalty) and two assists in La Liga makes a disappointing return of 0.57 per game.

SeasonNon-penalty goals plus assists per game
2013/141.18
2014/150.73
2015/161.51
2016/170.57
2017/180.95
2018/190.57

Bale has been extraordinarily up and down in Madrid since joining in 2013, so he might be due a boom year next season. But he’ll also be 30 years old after a career cursed by injuries. the winger hasn’t played 1800 league minutes (the equivalent of 20 full matches) since 2014/15.

Really, it’s no wonder that he’d prefer to run his contract down.

Current asking price/wage: £102.7m/£350,000 per week
Will probably have to settle for: £40-60m/£100,000-130,000 per week

Type of club he could end up at: If a team can persuade him to take a heavily performance-based wage structure, one in a tight battle willing to roll the dice for two or three years on getting half a season of ‘good Bale’. Otherwise, clubs with more money than sense. And he’s already at one of them.

Philippe Coutinho

Age next season: 27
Contract expiry: Summer 2023

Coutinho has just four goals and two assists in La Liga to his name this season. While he’s made 26 appearances, ten of these have been from the bench. Bizarrely, and disappointingly for the Brazilian, Gerard Pique has the exact same number of league goals and assists in 2018/19.

Barcelona are meeting with Coutinho and want him to rediscover his form, but are reportedly, and reluctantly, open to a transfer in the summer. Like with Bale, they’d want around £100m.

Comfortingly for Barcelona, or potential buyers, he’s averaged around or over 0.9 goals and assists per game in each season since 2016/17. But a lot depends on whether a potential buyer would be getting 2016/17 and 2017/18 Coutinho or 2018/19 Coutinho.

Current asking price/wage: £100m/£200,000
Will probably have to settle for: £75-90m/£120,000-160,000 per week

Type of club he could end up at: A slight step down from Barcelona, but still a Champions League status club. Paris Saint-Germain if one of their current stars leaves, perhaps.

Alexis Sánchez

Age next season: 30
Contract expiry: Summer 2022

Age aside, it’s not hard to see why Manchester United wanted to bring in Sanchez in January 2018. He’d been on fire for the first half of that season, contributing 0.82 expected goals and expected goals assisted per game.

This dropped to 0.43 per game in the half-season after joining United; still decent but no longer among the best in the league.

He’s kept that level this term (0.46), although he isn’t playing much for tactical reasons. Sánchez still has output to offer, then, although his ageing legs will need to be taken into account.

Current asking price/wages: Unknown/£391,000 per week
Will probably have to settle for: £20-35m/£120,000-150,000

Type of club he could end up at: Europa League quality team looking to catch the twilight years of a Champions League quality player. Or a major club looking for an expensive rotation option.

related
content