The All-Bloated Transfer-Fee XI of Europe
Big-money transfers are nothing new in modern-day football yet there are still some—involving vastly inflated fees—that manage to take us all by surprise.
Yes, David Luiz, we're looking squarely at you.
But which other players will be on the move across Europe this summer for bloated sums of money? Over the following slides we take a look, bringing you the most overpriced XI of the current window.
Please note that this slideshow includes both done and heavily rumoured deals and, in the absence of any terribly expensive goalkeepers, these are all outfield players.
DF: Jeremy Mathieu
Transfer fee: €20 million
Jeremy Mathieu has been linked with Barcelona all summer long and a deal was tied up with the French defender this week, as seen on FCbarcelona.com.
Luis Enrique's club have been in need of new defensive recruits and the versatile Frenchman has been a solid, reliable performer for Los Che over the last five years. Yet, at 30, Mathieu is hardly one for the future and a €20 million price tag, plus a €50 million buyout clause is unnecessarily high.
Mathieu released a public statement through Spanish news agency EFE on July 18, in which he urged Valencia to let him make a move to the Nou Camp, seen here on Sky Sports.
As former Barca defender and Mexico international Rafael Marquez put it when talking to RAC1 (h/t beIN Sports), "I don't think he has the profile to play for Barcelona and even less so for this price. Hopefully they'll think well about this and if they're going to splash out like that, it's for someone who is actually worthwhile."
DF: David Luiz
Transfer fee: £50 million
To: Paris Saint-Germain
Ahead of the 2014 World Cup, it was difficult to understand how David Luiz had managed to become the world's most expensive defender.
Post-World Cup, after that game and that result against Germany, the Brazilian's £50 million fee looks completely absurd.
With only 15 Premier League starts for Chelsea last season, it was obvious that Luiz was already being considered as surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. Under Jose Mourinho he was unable to nail down a place in his favored position in central defence and when facing Germany at the World Cup we saw why. With zero discipline, not an ounce of composure and no actual defending to speak of, he had what we like to call "a shocker."
Whether you rate Luiz or not, one thing is certain—this was an astoundingly good piece of business by Chelsea.
DF: Luke Shaw
Transfer fee: £27 million
To: Manchester United
When Luke Shaw made the switch from St Mary's to Old Trafford last month, he became the most expensive teenager in world football.
The 19-year-old's transfer fee could rise as high as £31 million, depending on his performances for Manchester United, as seen on BBC Sport.
The England international has impressed over the last two seasons, after breaking into the Saints' first-team and there is no denying that he is one of the most exciting young talents around, with all the attributes to make it to the very top of the game.
Yet, he is a left-back, he was 18 when he put pen to paper with United, with just 67 games under his belt for Southampton and there are plenty of cheaper deals available across Europe. Did we mention that he is a left-back?
As is the case with many English players in the Premier League, Shaw's price tag is a reflection of his nationality. Great talent but grossly bloated fee.
DF: Eliaquim Mangala
Rumoured transfer fee: £32 million
From: FC Porto
To: Manchester City
The Guardian's Jamie Jackson recently reported that Manchester City were feeling quietly confident of landing their most expensive signing of the summer, in £32 million defender Eliaquim Mangala.
Is he good? Yes. Is he worth £32 million? No.
The 23-year-old cuts an imposing figure and he could be a huge talent in years to come. However, Mangala is still raw, he is inconsistent and a string of below par performances last season saw him on the sidelines for the last six games of the Primeira Liga.
The French centre-back was named in Didier Deschamps' final 23 for the 2014 World Cup, yet he didn't receive any game time, with Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho and Laurent Koscielny ahead of him in the pecking order.
With a contract that runs until June 2016, Mangala will be considerably cheaper a year from now. Perhaps Manchester City should bide their time.
Mid: James Rodriguez
Transfer fee: £63 million
To: Real Madrid
This time last year, James Rodriguez went from FC Porto to AS Monaco for €45 million. Thirty eight games, 10 goals and 14 assists later, he's on the move again for £63 million (h/t The Guardian)—a price that BBC Football claim could rise as high as £71 million.
I think we can all agree that the Colombian international and undisputed star of Brazil 2014 is an exceptional talent. I think we can also agree that this is a transfer fee that has been bloated to zeppelin-like proportions.
The World Cup Golden Boot winner notched six goals in five games for Los Cafeteros this summer, ensuring that Radamel Falcao's absence was swiftly forgotten. These goals also made Real Madrid lose their heads, making Rodriguez the fourth-most expensive player of all time.
Mid: Adam Lallana
Transfer fee: £25 million
If Adam Lallana can build on the form that he showed in a Southampton shirt last season, he could turn out to be a fantastic buy for Liverpool. The midfielder has years ahead of him, he's versatile, creative and presents Brendan Rodgers with yet more options in attack—which will be needed in a season with the added test of Champions League football.
However, as an England international and "homegrown player" just like Luke Shaw, Lallana's price tag has been vastly inflated.
Liverpool have a history of paying over the odds for English players, with Andy Carroll (£35 million from Newcastle) and Stewart Downing (£20 million from Aston Villa) the most obvious of examples.
The Anfield side are flush with cash, following Luis Suarez's departure but they are in sore need of new defenders. Perhaps their money could be better spent elsewhere.
FW: Enner Valencia
Transfer fee: £12 million
To: West Ham
Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia made a name for himself at the 2014 World Cup, where he scored three goals in two games, before La Tricolor's group-stage exit from the competition.
Signed last week—subject to a work permit being approved—by West Ham (h/t BBC Sport), this has all the hallmarks of a hastily executed and suddenly lucrative transfer, based solely upon Valencia's World Cup showing.
Valencia joined Mexican side Pachuca in January 2014 from Ecuadorian side Emelec. According to Transfermarkt, this sale went through for just over €3 million. Six months later, the Hammers snap him up for £12 million.
Not a bad piece of business for Pachuca, for whom Valencia played 23 times and scored 18 goals.
FW: Troy Deeney
Rumoured transfer fee: £10 million
To: Leicester City
As reported in The Telegraph this week, Championship side Watford are valuing striker Troy Deeney at £10 million, following interest from Leicester City.
Deeney scored 24 goals for the Hornets last season, making him the league's third-highest top scorer in 2013/14. Yet he is unproven in the top flight of English football and £10 million is a huge price tag for the 26-year-old.
Leicester, who won promotion to the Premier League last season, have already broken their transfer record once this summer, in bringing in Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton and Hove Albion for £8 million.
According to The Telegraph, the Foxes have already had two bids turned down for Deeney, with Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City and Burnley also had bids rejected by Beppe Sannino's club.
FW: Luis Suarez
Transfer fee: £75 million
Call me crazy, but if you spend £75 million on a new star forward who needs a "don't bite anyone or we'll fine you clause" in his contract—chances are you just overspent on the wrong guy.
Yet this is what Barcelona have just done. The Catalan club have, according to Tom Hopkinson in the Sunday People, a contract with Suarez that is "littered with clauses." As Hopkinson writes, "Luis Suarez will see his £10 million-a-year Barcelona pay packet slashed by up to £3 million if he tries to bite a chunk out of another opponent."
The Uruguayan is an incredible player and as one of the very best strikers currently in the game, he guarantees goals. But, he courts controversy almost as well as he plays—which is to say, a lot.
Barcelona now have a player who will miss a third of next season due to suspension. They obviously think he was worth the risk and the money.
Me? I'm not so sure.
FW: Ross McCormack
Transfer fee: £11 million
From: Leeds United
Fulham have paid way over the odds for former Leeds United striker Ross McCormack, who came to Craven Cottage on July 8 for £11 million, as seen on BBC Football.
The Cottagers were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2013/14 season, yet they are continuing to spend as if they are in the top flight.
The Scot is a good striker—his 29 Championship goals last season pay testament to that—but should Fulham win promotion at the first time of asking, they have just signed a marksman with no top-level experience. The club are also yet to see a return from the £11 million they spent on Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou last term.
To put McCormack's huge fee into perspective: Queen's Park Rangers signed Charlie Austin from Burnley for £4 million last summer and he scored 19 Championship goals in 2013/14. Plus, this week, Liverpool look set to announce the completed signing of French international and experienced Premier League striker Loic Remy for £8.5 million, as reported by Dominic King in the Daily Mail.
Leeds have profited handsomely from McCormack's sale and Fulham...they have been taken for a ride.
FW: Fabio Borini
Rumoured transfer fee: £14 million
It's a deal that has not yet gone through, but it seems that Fabio Borini's price tag is set at £14 million. According to Sky Sports, Liverpool have already agreed a deal to make the striker's Sunderland loan move permanent.
Can Borini really be worth £14 million?
The Italian failed to make an impact at Anfield, after signing for Liverpool in the summer of 2012. His first season was hampered by injury and he appeared in just 13 Premier League games for the Reds before being sent out on loan for the majority of the 2013/14 campaign.
Borini did make an impression at the Stadium of Light, however, where he scored some crucial goals for the Black Cats—notching four in the last five games of the season as Sunderland battled to avoid relegation.
These goals obviously don't come cheap as Borini now has a price tag reflective of an impossibly inflated market.
If Brendan Rodgers sells Borini for £14 million and manages to buy Loic Remy for £8.5 million, Liverpool will be laughing all the way to the bank.