Summer transfer market gone crazy?

Manchester City's new singing Jack Grealish greet fans outside after the press conference at the Eti

Manchester City's new singing Jack Grealish greet fans outside the Etihad Stadium. - Credit: PA

With the summer transfer window due to shut down at 11pm on August 31, it’s been interesting to watch the transfer activities throughout the summer period.

For most clubs it’s been a busy period with many reducing the squad size in an attempt to balance their books and add more quality to their starting line ups.

The talking point has been Jack Grealish, who has become the most expensive British player of all time after leaving his boyhood club Aston Villa in a £100 million move to Manchester City.

Manchester City’s shift in transfer policy focusing on the English market could spell danger for a few Premier League clubs.

If you compare their present squad to the squad Manuel Pellegrini created back in 2015, when he allowed a raft of Englishmen to leave the Etihad Stadium and his first-team squad ‘s English contingent was significantly weakened.

Only Raheem Sterling and Joe Hart remained with Pellegrini opting for a side consisting mainly of foreign stars.

Things have changed a little at the Etihad since then with the squad now having four or five English players in their first team squad Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden and the aforementioned Sterling are all key components of Pep Guardiola’s side, not to mention City’s recent £100million signing Jack Grealish.

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It’s clear there’s been a shift in City’s transfer philosophy in recent years – meaning their ongoing pursuit of Harry Kayne should probably come as no surprise – and this could spell danger for many Premier League clubs.

It’s important to note one of the possible motives behind their shift.

It’s a known fact that English players come at a premium, with City shelling out a combined total of £244million on Walker, Sterling, Stones and Grealish, though the recently introduced Brexit rules have seen clubs eager to tap into the English market more.

The problem is that players from countries that are still part of the European Union are now required to obtain work permits, with a points system used to determine whether a permit will be issued.

This adds just another obstacle to the already arduous task of getting deals over the line, meaning teams are now more likely to purchase from fellow English clubs where possible.

I’m not suggesting City have only targeted Grealish and Kane due to their nationality as they are both outstanding players – but it could well be a factor.

PSG, on the other hand, have signed Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum for a grand total of £0 in transfer fees.

It has to go down as the greatest transfer window of all time, and will probably never be topped.

With a front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar Junior and Kylian Mbappe, you would expect goals from all angles.

However, I am wasn’t convinced of their strength in defence last season but the introduction of the experienced Ramos could make the difference.

I was surprised a little to see Tammy Abraham complete a £34million move to Italian side Roma from Chelsea.

Abraham, top scorer for Chelsea over the last two seasons scoring 30 goals in 82 games, links up again with his former manager Jose Mourinho on a five-year deal.

With the arrival of Romelu Lukaka from Inter Milan for £97.5 million, his opportunities to play matches would be limited and for his long-term career ambition it could prove to be the correct decision.

Roma’s general manager Tiago Pinto said: “Despite being very young, with a huge amount of potential to keep improving, Tammy has already played over 200 games in his career and scored over 100 goals – and won a number of major trophies too."

It is understood the deal for the 23-year-old England international includes a buy-back clause set at £63 million - a shrewd move by Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, who insisted on the buy-back clause something that was overlooked when Lukaka left Chelsea in 2014 after making just 15 appearances, following his arrival at Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht in 2011. A lesson learned.

Lukaka is now regarded as one of the most prolific strikers in Europe.

Lukaka scored 87 goals in 166 games for Everton between 2014 and 2017 and found the net 42 times in 96 appearances during his two years at Manchester United before signing for Inter in 2019.

He scored 24 goals in Serie A last season helping Inter to their first Scudetto in 11 years as the club put an end to Juventus’ nine-year reign as Italian top-flight champions.

Following the transfer of Neymar Jnr in 2017 leaving Barcelona for PSG in a world record deal worth 222m Euros (£190m), the price demands for quality players has continued to increase.

Clubs quite rightly continue to demand top dollar for their prize assets and the riches clubs are prepared to pay the asking prices in an attempt to buy success. How long can this continue?   

If you look back to July 30, 1996, Alan Shearer joined Newcastle United, managed by Kevin Keegan, for a world transfer record-breaking £15 million (equivalent to £28 million today), you can see how the whole transfer market has changed with the richest clubs completely dominating the market.

How long can this continue? Crazy, crazy times.