In 1996, Alan Shearer signed for Newcastle United from Blackburn Rovers for a then-record fee of £15 million. Now, the world record transfer fee stands at £85 million, the amount Real Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale in 2013. It is clear that transfer fees have risen at an astonishing rate, but could Anthony Martial’s move from Monaco to Manchester United see fees go through the roof?
Come the end of the summer transfer window, Manchester United were in desperate need of a striker, and turned to Monaco in an attempt to get their man. They decided on little known Frenchman Anthony Martial.
The fee that was quoted was a bewildering £36 million, which could rise to £58 million based on his future performances with the Red Devils. Even before the potential increase, then at the age of 19, he became the most expensive teenager in football history.
Even with a fee that was less than half of the world record, United were paying well over the odds. Monaco knew that because it was so late on in the window, the Old Trafford club would become desperate in their search for a striker, so were able to demand a fee much higher than Martial’s true value.
Despite his clear potential, the 20-year-old had played only 52 Ligue 1 matches in France, and was yet to make a real impact. He had scored only 11 goals during that time, with his highest scoring seasons bringing only nine goals. On June 6 2015, the website transfermarkt valued the youngster at just £5.8 million.
By spending £36 million on Martial, United were showcasing the financial power that the bigger clubs now possess in the transfer market, something that other clubs could use as leverage. This was abundantly clear during Tottenham’s pursuit of West Brom striker Saido Berahino.
Berahino, another striker who has yet to reach his true potential, made his desire to leave Tony Pulis’ side very clear when he sent a tweet saying that he would never again play for Albion chairman Jeremy Peace. Despite Spurs’ bids reportedly reaching £25 million, West Brom held firm.
This made a clear signal that the bigger clubs would have to break the bank if they were to sign players from the so-called smaller sides. In England, this will become clearer than any other European nation.
The new Premier League TV deal, along with ever increasing sponsorship deals mean clubs have more income than ever. With all this new money coming in, transfer fees of around £20 million mean less to clubs than ever before.
The Martial deal has proved that big clubs will pay an absurd amount of money if they think a player has the potential, even if they have very little first team experience behind them. One big-money move could have changed the face of the transfer window forever.