Is there still value for money in the transfer market?

Peter Schmeichel

With the current amount of money that has literally been thrown at clubs this season from the enormous television deals, can clubs really get any value in the transfer market anymore or are English clubs just being taken for a ride?

Sky Sports News HQ reported that a potential world record-breaking £100 million bid by Manchester United for ex-red and current Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is on the cards. With teams like Crystal Palace bidding over £30 million for several players, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling costing around £50 million each, yet Leicester City’s title-winning squad costing just over £54 million, are clubs really getting value for money in today’s transfer market or are the days of the bargain player gone?

Sir Alex Ferguson was always a stern advocate of value for money in his transfers, and the majority of the time he got it right. Ferguson always liked to get his business done in the summer and stated that there was ‘no value‘ in the January Transfer windows.

Sometimes though the great Scot got it wrong and wasted millions on some very underwhelming players. In this article, I will look at what I consider to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s top three value for money transfers and also his top three waste of money transfers.

Top three value for money transfers

Peter Schmeichel

The “Great Dane” is still widely regarded as being the best Goalkeeper of the Premier League era. The man who had to have special XXXL gloves and kit made struck an imposing figure in between the sticks and gave United a solid base to build a great defence on. Costing Ferguson just £505’000 from Danish side Brondby, Ferguson hailed Schmeichel as “the bargain of the century” . United struggled for years to truly replace Schmeichel and after many different keepers including France international and World Cup winner Fabien Barthez only found a true replacement when Edwin Van Der Saar signed from Fulham.  Schmeichel played an integral part of the Denmark European Cup winning side of 1992 truly cementing his place as one of the best on the planet.

In today’s money £1.03 million

Interestingly Schmeichel’s own son Kasper cost Leicester City more than his Father had cost United even at today’s valuation  at £2 million.

Eric Cantona

What can be said about Eric Cantons that hasn’t already been said? Cantona signed for United from rivals Leeds United in 1992 for £1 million. If it had not been for the injury to United striker Dion Dublin and a rejected bid for Sheffield Wednesday’s David Hirst then Cantona may have never completed the jump from Elland Road to Old Trafford. Cantona became a cult hero for United and was the main catalyst in the beginning of  United’s Premier League dominance.  Seen as the embodiment of style and flair on the pitch it was exactly what United needed, the last piece of the jigsaw. Cantona was not just flamboyant on the pitch but also had a solid metal to his game, never afraid to put in a tackle when called upon. It was this combination that saw him become the legend that he is among United fans today. The Frenchman hung his boots up from United and  professional football in 1997 at the age of 30 and went on to represent France at beach football.

In today’s money £1.9 million

That is nearly as much as Liverpool paid for each Andy Carroll goal after a loss of £19.5 million versus his 11 goals for the club. What a bargain for such a club legend.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese forward who signed for United from Sporting CP went on to become Ballon d’Or winner on three separate occasions. Costing £12.24million the price tag seemed to be a bit steep for a yet unproven youngster. Sir Alex had seen something special though and the incredible potential that Ronaldo had. Ronaldo took a season or so to settle in the Premier League. At first, he was heavily criticized for being over flamboyant with his multiple stepovers and picked on for his diving antics. Sir Alex soon ironed this out from Ronaldo’s game. The slight build to Ronaldo’s frame filled out with time and he made himself extremely hard to win the ball from allowing him to attack defenders with speed, skill and power. Fantastic on the ground and brilliant in the air Ronaldo had everything. The young Portuguese wowed the Old Trafford crowds and struck up formidable partnerships with Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney .It would be a world record-breaking bid of £80 million that saw United sell their best asset to Real Madrid, making an incredible £67.7 million profit .

In today’s money. £17.96 million

Will United ever make such a massive profit on a player ever again?

Three waste of money transfers

Tiago Manuel Dias Correia as known as ‘Bebé’

The very much unknown Bebé signed for United in 2010 for a reported £7.4 million. Bebé in 2009 had been offered around Europe from his then club Estrella, but they were unable to find anyone to part with their  £125,000 valuation for him. In early 2010 he was offered to PSV Eindhoven for free but they turned the deal down as they had no records of the player. So had United found a hidden gem? Was this to be the next “Ronaldo”? Bebé had a strong looking physique. He was tall and quick. However, it was his lack of natural footballing ability that truly let him down at his time with United. Bebé was sent out on several unsuccessful loan spells to try and give him some first team regular football and aid in his development. Bebé made just seven appearances for United scoring twice. He finally left through the Old Trafford doors in a permanent move to Portuguese club Benfica in 2014. He was unable to hold down a first-team spot after his move and has since been loaned out twice. Bebé has been able to get a good run of games for Spanish club Ray Vallecano in the Spanish second division although only scoring two goals from 31 games for them.

In today’s money £8.9 million

Bebé has only scored 24 goals in his professional career in 150 games for eight separate clubs.

Zoran Tošić

Zoran Tošić was signed from Partizan Belgrade in 2009 for £5.95 million after work permit issues that had run on from the previous year. He was given the number 14 shirt and big things were expected from the young Serbian that United had invested a lot of man hours into signing. Tošić was a quick and skillful left winger. In his time at Old Trafford, Tosic was unable to settle as a left winger or even as left attacking full back. United fans thought they were getting a Ze Roberto style wing back in Tošić. Someone who could get box-to-box. Defend and attack. He didn’t have the required skill level that United had been so used to with the likes of Ryan Giggs working up and down the left flank for so many years. Tošić failed to impress at the Theatre of Dreams and played just five times and never scoring for the Red Devils. The only saving grace for United is that they were able to sell him on to CSKA Moscow for just over £8 million.

In today’s money £ 7.1 million

Tošić cost United just over £1.24 million per game, before taking into account wages paid.

Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira

The silky-skilled Brazilian cost United an estimated £26 million when he signed from Porto. United fans instantly thought that they had the next Ronaldinho on their hands. Anderson could carry a ball up the pitch, take a man on and was a bit of a dogged tackler. The Brazilian seemed to have all the potential that Sir Alex Ferguson would require to be able to nurture into a top talent. On more than one occasion Ferguson played Anderson as a more defensive midfielder, often used to man-mark certain players in a game and this was not what United fans had expected from the skillful samba star. Anderson though was plagued with ill form and poor fitness and  this ultimately led to United finally letting Anderson leave on a free transfer in 2015. Having accumulated nearly his transfer fee in wages while at United Anderson is thought to have cost nearly £5.5 million per goal. Although Anderson went on to play 181 times for United he scored just nine goals and never justified his price tag or fulfilled his potential.

In today’s money £33.94 million

Anderson could be regarded as United’s most successful waste of money having accumulated four Premier League titles along with two League Cups and a UEFA Champions League winners medal. For a player of his potential and the money spent you would have expected Anderson to have been a Ballon d’Or contender rather than shipped out on a free transfer.

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