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Why Transfer Fees for Top Clubs Are Now Virtually Meaningless

12/08/2015 19:57 BST | Updated 12/08/2016 10:59 BST

​Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City for £50million. Arsenal to land Julian Draxler and Mario Gotze for £86million. Raheem Sterling for £50million.

If you hadn't noticed that football transfer figures have become just a little bit silly, then you haven't been paying much attention. Due to a combination of petrol dollars and TV deals, football's fiscal forecast has been enlarged to a genuinely unfathomable degree, to the point where it's now been completely lost in translation. £20million used to be £20million. Now to Europe's biggest sides is it simply a figure, worth little more than the paper or whatever electronic device it is written on.

For what is £50million to men who are worth literally billions? Well, not very much is the simple answer - like 50p to you or I. Which is why these days when people say "ooh £50million for Raheem Sterling, that's an awful lot", they're wrong. Nobody is denying that on the scale of things £50million is a substantial amount of money, but to men who command oil empires around the world and probably employ butlers to roll them the finest tobacco in $100 notes, it's just about the square root of diddly squat.

Of course, it's not the same for all football clubs. In England, despite all of the new TV money, sides outside of the equally extravagant and impregnable top four still have to watch how much they spend to make ends meet. But now Financial Fair Play has been relaxed and essentially exposed for the farce that it always was, the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City can spend what they want, when they want, on whoever they bloody well want.

The problem these days has transformed from "how can we get all the players we need" to "how on earth are we going to fit all of these players on the pitch at once?!" Chelsea are probably the worst, but by no means the only example of this. They had 31 players out on loan last season. That's not a typo. Not 13. Thirty-one. You could make five teams out of what they have, or three entire squads.

Not that this is a new phenomena. Oh no, it's not new at all, it's just more obvious now. As far back as 1999, Inter Milan were splurging £30million plus on Christian Vieri and Lazio themselves a similar figure on Hernan Crespo. Look how that worked out in the long term, though that is a story for another time.

But even back at the turn of the millennium, there was still a feeling that these sorts of transfers were a significant outlay for clubs. Whereas now one gets the impression that if a rich owner gets a little glint in their eye, they can can dip into their back pockets, pull out £40million worth of silver and vomit it all on a upper-mid table club who have a player that has grown too big for their not-quite-huge-enough wage ceiling. Yes, Kevin De Bruyne and Wolfsburg, that means you.

Money in football has always been a little far removed from the normal world, but since the inception of the Sky Sports era and particularly over the last 10 years, 'ridiculous' doesn't even get half way to describing the situation. Which is why when a top side wants to buy a player nowadays, money is simply no object.

This is not to say that clubs will still not haggle with each other for a few million here or there - they are not just going to hand money out, that's not how you get rich in the first place - but it does mean that the market has become so warped that the figures bandied about have little to no meaning attached to them.

If Manchester United want a player they will sign him. If Manchester City want a player, you can be pretty damn sure they'll find a way of signing him. The upper echelons of football is a world where £10million is now counted as loose change. It's all a bit unhealthy. According to the history books, a big bust will always follow an extended boom, something which the football world should be a bit more wary of.

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