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Sean McMahon


Beware Of Open Windows – Particularly Transfer Ones

Written by on January 3, 2011 | No Comments »
Posted in English Premier League

Sean McMahon is journalist who covers global financial news.  When he isn’t reporting on the deeds and misdeed of big banks, he can usually be found playing, coaching or watching the beautiful game.

Now that we’ve all had a few weeks to digest the Mega Rooney Transfer That Wasn’t, I think it is safe to say it was all just too juicy to be true: Wayne Rooney departing Manchester United amid tabloid scandal, an alleged row with Sir Alex Ferguson and a poor run of form for club and country.

The imagined price tag on such a transfer launched speculation from commentators far and wide about which clubs would, could and should buy the striker.  But lost amid all the speculation was one simple question that went unanswered: Would a massive transfer fee guarantee whatever club that bought Rooney sparkling results?

Had Rooney stayed in the Premier League, history says probably NOT.

Take a look at the five most expensive transfers in Premier League history…

1. Robinho: Real Madrid to Manchester City – £32.5m (2008)

2. Dimitar Berbatov: Tottenham to Manchester United – £30.75m (2008)

3. Andriy Shevchenko: AC Milan to Chelsea – £30.8m (2006)

4. Rio Ferdinand: Leeds to Manchester United – £29.1m (2002)

5. Juan Sebastian Veron: Lazio to Manchester United – £28.1m (2001)


Three of those transfers (Robinho, Shevchenko, Veron) were colossal failures.  And while Berbatov is (was)  off to a sparkling start this season, his haul of goals in his first two season at Old Trafford hardly justified such a price tag. Only Ferdinand appears to have been worth the price as United have enjoyed a fine run of titles with him in their back line.

Surely, a Rooney transfer fee would have approached or broken the record £32.5million Manchester City doled out for Robinho. And while conventional wisdom on transfers says that if a player has class, he will shine no matter the club, the above list begs to differ.

Did anyone think a goal machine like Shevchenko would sputter once he landed on English soil? The style of play in England might not have suited Robinho, but that doesn’t explain the initial struggles of a player like Berbatov who transferred from one English club to another.

Why do star players often sputter following a transfer? That is a topic for another post.

My point today is this: Given the price he likely would have fetched and the evidence that suggests performance doesn’t always transfer with even the finest of players, perhaps the teams that might have been contemplating snatching Rooney (Chelsea, Manchester City) should count themselves lucky for the great transfer that DIDN’T happen.

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