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Of math and men - Dissecting football transfer valuations

by Puneet

One of the biggest transfer sagas of the Summer

Since yesterday, Gareth Bale’s value has gone up a reported £39 million, rising from the earlier bid of £86 million. He is now currently valued at a whopping £125 million by his parent club Tottenham Hotspur, and the pursuit for talent has just been taken up three notches.

Given that the earlier offer by Real Madrid was a mix of money and players, this is still to be taken at face value; to essentially simplify the apples and the oranges for the layman. From the transfer of Zinedine Zidane from Juventus to Real Madrid back in 2001, to Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United, all the purchases have been beyond logic, at least for the working class.

It simply defies reason as to how a player could be worth so much money, especially with the economic downturn only still receding. Certain counties have been built on lesser amounts, if not countries. There has to be a science which determines the value of a players, which clarifies that such valuations are not simply figures that catch the eye of the marketer. Let’s take a look at a few of the criteria that determine the notional value of a footballer.

Talent

Top of the list, this is clearly the first point of differentiation when it comes to evaluating a player. A player has to possess certain qualities in the first place to be considered by another club, and there is a margin where buyers operate. If a club in need finds a player who fulfils that particular need, the player is automatically on the shortlist.

Every team has a decent sized squad, but not every one of them makes the cut, and talent is the key point of interest for a scout.  Again, the value automatically goes up if the chosen player is in the list of the best in that particular position. So if the player is a left back and is extremely talented and is considered one of the best in the league, he will cost way more that anyone who brings up the rear of that list.

For instance, Robin van Persie filled the role of an out-and-out striker that Manchester United wanted to help them push themselves to the top of the table. His sure-fire talent ensured that he had another stupendous season, scoring 30 goals in all competitions, just seven short of his best season with his previous employers, Arsenal. United paid £24 million for their man essentially because van Persie was peaking in form and they could afford a little splurge.

Position

A football team has 11 players who fill various positions in the squad and all of them play an equal role in helping propel the team forward. That being said, they are not all on the same plane, at least not in this era of supremely attacking football.

Attack allegedly being the best form of defense, the final third commands the highest remuneration. Strikers, attacking midfielders and wingers garner the maximum amount of interest and subsequent coverage.

The trend clearly showcases the aforementioned argument, with only a select few like Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and Dani Alves on top of that particular chain of command. Teams generally prefer to score more than they let in, and the easiest way to achieve that is to bring in the cream of attack and settle for a decently average defense which can play its role satisfactorily.

The criterion of ‘position’ also entails the player’s placement in his parent club’s hierarchy. A player who is a first team regular will logically cost more than a fringe player. A player who is indispensable to his squad will cost even more, because that forces the parent club to look for a worthy replacement, which calls for further effort on their behalf.

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