This week Sky Sports reported that more than £660,000,000 had been spent on transfers during the 2014 Summer Transfer Window. This figure will break through the £700 million figure once Angel di Maria signs for Manchester United, and with the window not closing until Monday night, will no doubt rise further. The table below lists the sixteen most expensive transfers during the current window (including di Maria), each of which broke through the £20 million barrier.
But what about historical transfer fees? Where would these stand if one were to consider the impact of inflation over the years?
Given my age, I’m a little biased when it comes to where to start. For me Diego Maradona is the greatest player that’s ever played the game. The Argentinian was the most expensive player in the world twice, the second of which was his £5 million move from Barcelona to Napoli in 1984. It’s this point from where we start. The table below lists every transfer that broke the record transfer fee since 1984. Sixteen transfers are reported with the nominal fee (what was paid) listed next to the real fee (cost in today's money).
There are various reasons for the huge surge in the real cost of transfers over the past thirty years. TV broadcasting revenue have risen exponentially over the course of the past two decades. Merchandising is at saturation point and is now truly a global thing for the world's top clubs. Ticket prices have also soared. Attending football matches, historically a past-time of the working class, is now a pursuit for those with money. All of this means that transfers and by extension wages have rocketed since the early 1980s. If Maradona were playing today he likely to be sold for closer to £119 million rather than £11.9 million. What a bargain he was.