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Hamilton

General Transfer Talk

Started by Hamilton,

23,707 posts in this topic

CIES Football Observatory

n°283 - 10/02/2020

Values

From Chelsea to Real Madrid: net transfer spending

https://football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/b5wp/2019/wp283/en/

Issue number 283 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the financial balance for transfers carried out by clubs worldwide during the last two transfer windows. Real Madrid recorded the most negative balance (- €181 million) ahead of Aston Villa (- €169 m) and Barcelona (- €166 m). At the opposite end of the table are Chelsea (+ €205 m), Benfica (+ €167) and Ajax (+ €137 m).

wp283.jpg

The seven fee paying transfers concluded by Real Madrid during the summer 2019 and winter 2020 transfer windows had a total estimated cost of €330 m (add-ons included). During the same period, the incomes generated by the Spanish team for the release of seven other players were €149 m. On its side, Chelsea earned €250 by transferring 16 footballers, while it only spent €45 m to reinforce its squad (Mateo Kovačić).

At the level of the five major European leagues, the net balance for transfer operations range from - €844 million for the English Premier League and + €106 m for the French Ligue 1. Negative balances were also recorded in the Spanish Liga (- € 418 m), the Italian Serie A (- € 407 m) and the German Bundesliga (- € 263 m).

Most positive transfer balances, € Million

Summer 2019 and winter 2020 transfer windows

c3cafad541eb84327167993130c4dac0.png

Most negative transfer balances, € Million

Summer 2019 and winter 2020 transfer windows

f27cb7657aeb774d4c62d5b8910a3fd9.png

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Next Big Thing: Radical proposals for the transfer market – salary caps, luxury tax and removing trading windows

https://theathletic.com/1596690/2020/02/11/transfer-window-radical-salary-cap/

Three years ago, football fan Craig Tennant took to the website Change.org and launched a petition. Accompanied by the hashtag #HateFootballLoveBarnsley, the disgruntled Tykes fan appealed to FIFA to abolish the winter transfer window.

His argument centred on the feeling that lower-placed clubs can be easy prey in January, as successful and wealthy outfits first destabilise and then cherry-pick talent, often throwing the player’s club — in this case Tennant’s Barnsley — into mid-season disarray.

Tennant wrote: “A football club should be able (to) assemble a squad in one summer window and if the recruitment isn’t good enough, or they don’t give youth the chance, they should not have the power or opportunity to destroy smaller clubs’ seasons. This isn’t good for the fans. It is isn’t good for the smaller clubs. The only people it benefits are the greedy footballers themselves and the playboy owners. Ban the window.”

The petition was ‘signed’ just 200 times but Tennant is far from alone in his thinking. There are plenty at Tottenham Hotspur who feel the uncertainty surrounding Christian Eriksen loomed menacingly over the first half of their campaign, while former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger echoed such thoughts during his ill-fated attempts to keep Alexis Sanchez in January 2018.

Speaking in September 2017, Wenger said: “The players who do not play or the players who are tapped up in October, they already start again to think, ‘Where do I go in January?’ That’s not a way to be on board with a football club. I believe that we have to bring some decency to the game.

“We all complain today that (football) has become too much of a business, but we can do something about it. We have that responsibility in the game. The ideal situation would be to have a transfer period that is closed 48 hours before the first game of the championship and to close it completely until after the season.”

Wenger’s grand reformation never did come to fruition and, even in his new guise as a FIFA bureaucrat, we should not expect this particular proposal to gain too much traction. Yet as football seeks to reconcile stable finances with entertainment, governing bodies such like FIFA and UEFA, clubs and agents are constantly seeking to innovate and reform.

Most recently, the Premier League sought to end the instability that pockmarked the beginning of the campaign by shutting the English transfer window before the first weekend of the top-flight season. Yet, as the rest of Europe did not align, Premier League clubs became concerned that their own players were still for sale, or even able to agitate for a sale, despite England’s own buying capacity to sign replacements being voided.

As such, the Premier League last week voted unanimously to revert to the former model. Future changes, therefore, will need to be measured carefully.

Over recent weeks, The Athletic has spoken with leading figures within football and inside other sports to hear suggestions as to what could be done to improve the transfer window. The answers, from salary caps to luxury taxes, could lead football into a very different future…

Remove trading windows altogether

The most extreme change would be the “reverse Wenger” with deals taking place all year round. Sports lawyer Jake Cohen explains: “The idea of placing restrictions on when somebody is able to change jobs would be unimaginable in most fields. For example, if I could only move from one law firm or company to another in the month of January or during the summer, I would feel very strongly against that.

“If you removed the short windows, it would give clubs more breathing room for greater strategy and planning. A moratorium on player movement could be imposed during the latter half of the season to ensure squad stability in the run-up to the end of the season and the culmination of the domestic and continental tournaments, similar to the ‘trade deadline’ employed in most US professional sports.”

Cynics would argue that a more liberalised trading system could trigger greater uncertainty during the campaign. Yet it may also be that an absence of defined windows allows clubs to adopt clearer strategies and they could be less inclined to bring in “bodies” in panic as a deadline looms. This would also remove much of the pantomime that has come to dominate the final day of transfer windows.

Greater regulation of agents

Within the boardroom, concerns centre less on the period where transfers can take place and more on tweaks that can be made to protect the security of clubs. It is no secret that clubs would like to see greater regulation over agents and a clearer way to establish who to trust when attempting to sign a player.

Cohen explains: “To be an NBA agent, the application process is fairly intensive. Applicants must pass a written exam and successfully pass a background check. In order to have certification renewed by the players’ association, agents must complete seminars designed to ensure agents remain up-to-date on relevant issues and must also have acted for at least one player in a contract negotiation.

“NFL agents must also not only possess an undergraduate degree, but also a master’s or law degree. These are serious requirements most people do not meet. This is in stark contrast to football, where just about anyone with £500 can become an FA registered intermediary.

“The deregulation, which was implemented at the FIFA level, has opened the door for unscrupulous actors to try and con players, clubs and reputable agents. I have acted on deals for players, agents and clubs, and I have seen cases where several agents have tried to claim a fee by purporting that he or she was the agent of the player involved. Unfortunately, it is also a regular occurrence in the industry to come across individuals who claim they act for a certain player, when basic follow-up will show that they are misrepresenting themselves.”

Stop big clubs stockpiling talent

There is concern that the talent base within football is becoming ever more constrained within a select few clubs. A recent report by the European Clubs’ Association noted that 96 per cent of the 250 most valuable players are concentrated in Europe’s top five leagues across only 50 clubs. If this direction of travel continues, the doomsday fears of a European Super League become credible.

All the modern evidence suggests extreme polarisation and, as the ESPN journalist Gabriele Marcotti recently noted: “The top 30 clubs [in Europe] make nearly as much as the rest of the continent combined and the top one per cent of clubs earn 20 per cent of the club game’s total revenue.” Measures have already been taken, most notably through Financial Fair Play restrictions, but there may be a need not only to redistribute resources, but also talent itself.

As top-tier clubs increasingly desire two high-quality players per position, the stockpiling of elite talent is increasingly restricted. Marcotti’s suggestion is to reduce the number of senior players, outside of those developed by the club’s youth system, that can be registered in a first-team squad. This, he argues, would limit hoarding and encourage opportunities for young players.

Introduce a salary cap

Another way forward, albeit one which would surely met by huge resistance, could be a salary cap. Valencia president Anil Murthy tells The Athletic: “FIFA and UEFA have been looking at the agents’ issue for a long time, as well as commissions and salary caps.

“The passionate part of football for a long time has been to see these big stars. Can you imagine Barcelona without Lionel Messi, for example? So, it would obviously have to be a global salary cap. There would be different formulas. Maybe you tell a team they have only two players earning a certain amount of money? I don’t know whether football is ready for that yet. Eventually if things get out of hand…”

But PSG signed Neymar from Barcelona for a fee reported to be £200 million. Is this not out of hand? Murthy laughs. “I imagine at some point in time there will be some kind of rule to limit the number of really expensive players in each team. But what’s funny about football, is that some clubs have spent billions and still cannot win the Champions League.

“It is, however, an issue in terms of inflation for all clubs because you are pushing people’s expectations when a 15-year-old player can ask for a £15 million transfer. We have seen a goalkeeper move for £80 million. When did that start happening? That creates problems. Eventually it has to adjust. If people stop going crazy and running after the idea that, ‘I have to sign this 15-year-old, maybe I can let him go and get someone else for £2 million’ it can be better.“

In rugby union, the Premiership employs a salary cap and the league believes this produces more even contests. Privately, they speak of hoping for final scorelines that do not have a points difference greater than seven, therefore ensuring competitive and absorbing sport.

In practice, it means clubs can spend up to £7 million as a basic cap, excluding the salaries of two players. Clubs also receive £600,000 in “academy credits” for players aged below 24 who joined the club before their 18th birthday. The Premiership recently doled out a landmark punishment against champions Saracen, who were heavily fined and will be relegated to the second tier following breaches of the salary cap.

Senior sources within rugby union told The Athletic that other sports have contacted the Premiership for advice about establishing salary caps. One director explains: ”We have other leagues looking at us and contacting us. We know they have been paying attention very keenly to the verdict on Saracens. We hear from American sports, too.

“Another factor to take into account from rugby, is that the national federation has a stipulation that to play for England, you must also play in England. This means it is easier for training camps and collaboration over fitness and nutritional regimes. There could of course be challenges to this in the future but the current coach Eddie Jones is so pragmatic he almost discards those players who go abroad. His idea is that if you want the No 8 shirt off a player, go and play against him in England and prove you are better than you opponent.”

In the case of football, it would seem both undesirable and counter-productive to limit a player’s freedom to play abroad in this way. Certainly, the cosmopolitanism of the Premier League has been behind its market-leading success. Yet the appeal of a salary cap remains to some, and not only in the men’s game. In women’s football, the Football Association has imposed a salary cap but there is opposition.

Sports lawyer Cohen explains: “In the Women’s Super League in England, there is the rule about salaries accounting for no more than 40 per cent of a club’s “operating costs.” In practice however, this 40 per cent figure is basically whatever each club wants it to be, so it is not really a cap on player wages and each club decides how much it wants to spend. The current 40 per cent rule seems nebulous, particularly as it is hard to quantify incomings, as women’s teams are often a subsidiary of a broader organisation, such as the men’s football club or its foundation.

“The FA has advocated for a salary cap. I would take the view that a hard salary cap would do considerably more hard than good, and the Professional Footballers’ Association and even some clubs, most notably Chelsea, have been opposed to restricting the ability of clubs to heavily invest in the women’s game.”

A luxury tax

If a firm salary cap is open to manipulation, could football learn from Major League Baseball or the NBA through a luxury tax? This would allow clubs with greater resources to outspend a salary cap but they would be taxed on their excess payment and the money could be redistributed to poorer clubs.

In the Premier League, for example, money is already distributed through the huge broadcasting rights deals but a luxury tax could provide a secondary tier of redistribution to encourage both sound finances and provide greater solidarity down the ladder. The challenge, of course, would be persuading football’s powerhouses to sign up.

Cohen explains: “A luxury tax system imposes a spending threshold and, while clubs are free to spend above that threshold, they are “taxed” for every pound spent above it.

“As a hypothetical, if the luxury tax threshold is set at £10 million, a club spending over that could be taxed at a rate of 25 per cent of any amount spent over £10 million and below £15 million. Any amount spent over £15 million and below £20 million could be taxed at 50 per cent, and any amount spent over £20 million could be taxed at 100 per cent. The tax collected goes into a pot to be redistributed on an annual basis to the clubs who didn’t pay the tax that year.

“The tax revenue collected by one of the smaller clubs could not only ensure they remain financially viable, but also provide the revenue needed to re-sign a top player they might otherwise lose to a bigger club. It also ensures that clubs will continue to invest, but not massively overspend.”

Too radical for football? Let’s see.

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10 hours ago, Vesper said:

Next Big Thing: Radical proposals for the transfer market – salary caps, luxury tax and removing trading windows

https://theathletic.com/1596690/2020/02/11/transfer-window-radical-salary-cap/

Three years ago, football fan Craig Tennant took to the website Change.org and launched a petition. Accompanied by the hashtag #HateFootballLoveBarnsley, the disgruntled Tykes fan appealed to FIFA to abolish the winter transfer window.

His argument centred on the feeling that lower-placed clubs can be easy prey in January, as successful and wealthy outfits first destabilise and then cherry-pick talent, often throwing the player’s club — in this case Tennant’s Barnsley — into mid-season disarray.

Tennant wrote: “A football club should be able (to) assemble a squad in one summer window and if the recruitment isn’t good enough, or they don’t give youth the chance, they should not have the power or opportunity to destroy smaller clubs’ seasons. This isn’t good for the fans. It is isn’t good for the smaller clubs. The only people it benefits are the greedy footballers themselves and the playboy owners. Ban the window.”

The petition was ‘signed’ just 200 times but Tennant is far from alone in his thinking. There are plenty at Tottenham Hotspur who feel the uncertainty surrounding Christian Eriksen loomed menacingly over the first half of their campaign, while former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger echoed such thoughts during his ill-fated attempts to keep Alexis Sanchez in January 2018.

Speaking in September 2017, Wenger said: “The players who do not play or the players who are tapped up in October, they already start again to think, ‘Where do I go in January?’ That’s not a way to be on board with a football club. I believe that we have to bring some decency to the game.

“We all complain today that (football) has become too much of a business, but we can do something about it. We have that responsibility in the game. The ideal situation would be to have a transfer period that is closed 48 hours before the first game of the championship and to close it completely until after the season.”

Wenger’s grand reformation never did come to fruition and, even in his new guise as a FIFA bureaucrat, we should not expect this particular proposal to gain too much traction. Yet as football seeks to reconcile stable finances with entertainment, governing bodies such like FIFA and UEFA, clubs and agents are constantly seeking to innovate and reform.

Most recently, the Premier League sought to end the instability that pockmarked the beginning of the campaign by shutting the English transfer window before the first weekend of the top-flight season. Yet, as the rest of Europe did not align, Premier League clubs became concerned that their own players were still for sale, or even able to agitate for a sale, despite England’s own buying capacity to sign replacements being voided.

As such, the Premier League last week voted unanimously to revert to the former model. Future changes, therefore, will need to be measured carefully.

Over recent weeks, The Athletic has spoken with leading figures within football and inside other sports to hear suggestions as to what could be done to improve the transfer window. The answers, from salary caps to luxury taxes, could lead football into a very different future…

Remove trading windows altogether

The most extreme change would be the “reverse Wenger” with deals taking place all year round. Sports lawyer Jake Cohen explains: “The idea of placing restrictions on when somebody is able to change jobs would be unimaginable in most fields. For example, if I could only move from one law firm or company to another in the month of January or during the summer, I would feel very strongly against that.

“If you removed the short windows, it would give clubs more breathing room for greater strategy and planning. A moratorium on player movement could be imposed during the latter half of the season to ensure squad stability in the run-up to the end of the season and the culmination of the domestic and continental tournaments, similar to the ‘trade deadline’ employed in most US professional sports.”

Cynics would argue that a more liberalised trading system could trigger greater uncertainty during the campaign. Yet it may also be that an absence of defined windows allows clubs to adopt clearer strategies and they could be less inclined to bring in “bodies” in panic as a deadline looms. This would also remove much of the pantomime that has come to dominate the final day of transfer windows.

Greater regulation of agents

Within the boardroom, concerns centre less on the period where transfers can take place and more on tweaks that can be made to protect the security of clubs. It is no secret that clubs would like to see greater regulation over agents and a clearer way to establish who to trust when attempting to sign a player.

Cohen explains: “To be an NBA agent, the application process is fairly intensive. Applicants must pass a written exam and successfully pass a background check. In order to have certification renewed by the players’ association, agents must complete seminars designed to ensure agents remain up-to-date on relevant issues and must also have acted for at least one player in a contract negotiation.

“NFL agents must also not only possess an undergraduate degree, but also a master’s or law degree. These are serious requirements most people do not meet. This is in stark contrast to football, where just about anyone with £500 can become an FA registered intermediary.

“The deregulation, which was implemented at the FIFA level, has opened the door for unscrupulous actors to try and con players, clubs and reputable agents. I have acted on deals for players, agents and clubs, and I have seen cases where several agents have tried to claim a fee by purporting that he or she was the agent of the player involved. Unfortunately, it is also a regular occurrence in the industry to come across individuals who claim they act for a certain player, when basic follow-up will show that they are misrepresenting themselves.”

Stop big clubs stockpiling talent

There is concern that the talent base within football is becoming ever more constrained within a select few clubs. A recent report by the European Clubs’ Association noted that 96 per cent of the 250 most valuable players are concentrated in Europe’s top five leagues across only 50 clubs. If this direction of travel continues, the doomsday fears of a European Super League become credible.

All the modern evidence suggests extreme polarisation and, as the ESPN journalist Gabriele Marcotti recently noted: “The top 30 clubs [in Europe] make nearly as much as the rest of the continent combined and the top one per cent of clubs earn 20 per cent of the club game’s total revenue.” Measures have already been taken, most notably through Financial Fair Play restrictions, but there may be a need not only to redistribute resources, but also talent itself.

As top-tier clubs increasingly desire two high-quality players per position, the stockpiling of elite talent is increasingly restricted. Marcotti’s suggestion is to reduce the number of senior players, outside of those developed by the club’s youth system, that can be registered in a first-team squad. This, he argues, would limit hoarding and encourage opportunities for young players.

Introduce a salary cap

Another way forward, albeit one which would surely met by huge resistance, could be a salary cap. Valencia president Anil Murthy tells The Athletic: “FIFA and UEFA have been looking at the agents’ issue for a long time, as well as commissions and salary caps.

“The passionate part of football for a long time has been to see these big stars. Can you imagine Barcelona without Lionel Messi, for example? So, it would obviously have to be a global salary cap. There would be different formulas. Maybe you tell a team they have only two players earning a certain amount of money? I don’t know whether football is ready for that yet. Eventually if things get out of hand…”

But PSG signed Neymar from Barcelona for a fee reported to be £200 million. Is this not out of hand? Murthy laughs. “I imagine at some point in time there will be some kind of rule to limit the number of really expensive players in each team. But what’s funny about football, is that some clubs have spent billions and still cannot win the Champions League.

“It is, however, an issue in terms of inflation for all clubs because you are pushing people’s expectations when a 15-year-old player can ask for a £15 million transfer. We have seen a goalkeeper move for £80 million. When did that start happening? That creates problems. Eventually it has to adjust. If people stop going crazy and running after the idea that, ‘I have to sign this 15-year-old, maybe I can let him go and get someone else for £2 million’ it can be better.“

In rugby union, the Premiership employs a salary cap and the league believes this produces more even contests. Privately, they speak of hoping for final scorelines that do not have a points difference greater than seven, therefore ensuring competitive and absorbing sport.

In practice, it means clubs can spend up to £7 million as a basic cap, excluding the salaries of two players. Clubs also receive £600,000 in “academy credits” for players aged below 24 who joined the club before their 18th birthday. The Premiership recently doled out a landmark punishment against champions Saracen, who were heavily fined and will be relegated to the second tier following breaches of the salary cap.

Senior sources within rugby union told The Athletic that other sports have contacted the Premiership for advice about establishing salary caps. One director explains: ”We have other leagues looking at us and contacting us. We know they have been paying attention very keenly to the verdict on Saracens. We hear from American sports, too.

“Another factor to take into account from rugby, is that the national federation has a stipulation that to play for England, you must also play in England. This means it is easier for training camps and collaboration over fitness and nutritional regimes. There could of course be challenges to this in the future but the current coach Eddie Jones is so pragmatic he almost discards those players who go abroad. His idea is that if you want the No 8 shirt off a player, go and play against him in England and prove you are better than you opponent.”

In the case of football, it would seem both undesirable and counter-productive to limit a player’s freedom to play abroad in this way. Certainly, the cosmopolitanism of the Premier League has been behind its market-leading success. Yet the appeal of a salary cap remains to some, and not only in the men’s game. In women’s football, the Football Association has imposed a salary cap but there is opposition.

Sports lawyer Cohen explains: “In the Women’s Super League in England, there is the rule about salaries accounting for no more than 40 per cent of a club’s “operating costs.” In practice however, this 40 per cent figure is basically whatever each club wants it to be, so it is not really a cap on player wages and each club decides how much it wants to spend. The current 40 per cent rule seems nebulous, particularly as it is hard to quantify incomings, as women’s teams are often a subsidiary of a broader organisation, such as the men’s football club or its foundation.

“The FA has advocated for a salary cap. I would take the view that a hard salary cap would do considerably more hard than good, and the Professional Footballers’ Association and even some clubs, most notably Chelsea, have been opposed to restricting the ability of clubs to heavily invest in the women’s game.”

A luxury tax

If a firm salary cap is open to manipulation, could football learn from Major League Baseball or the NBA through a luxury tax? This would allow clubs with greater resources to outspend a salary cap but they would be taxed on their excess payment and the money could be redistributed to poorer clubs.

In the Premier League, for example, money is already distributed through the huge broadcasting rights deals but a luxury tax could provide a secondary tier of redistribution to encourage both sound finances and provide greater solidarity down the ladder. The challenge, of course, would be persuading football’s powerhouses to sign up.

Cohen explains: “A luxury tax system imposes a spending threshold and, while clubs are free to spend above that threshold, they are “taxed” for every pound spent above it.

“As a hypothetical, if the luxury tax threshold is set at £10 million, a club spending over that could be taxed at a rate of 25 per cent of any amount spent over £10 million and below £15 million. Any amount spent over £15 million and below £20 million could be taxed at 50 per cent, and any amount spent over £20 million could be taxed at 100 per cent. The tax collected goes into a pot to be redistributed on an annual basis to the clubs who didn’t pay the tax that year.

“The tax revenue collected by one of the smaller clubs could not only ensure they remain financially viable, but also provide the revenue needed to re-sign a top player they might otherwise lose to a bigger club. It also ensures that clubs will continue to invest, but not massively overspend.”

Too radical for football? Let’s see.

A lot of this would not work in football. Most of the examples come from niche sports or sports where there is only one or two elite leagues. Salary caps and luxury taxes are impossible to impliment as they would come up against all sorts of legal issues in various countries. The only two that are maybe possible are the capping of agent fees and adjusting the transfer window (s.)

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Man City two year ban from CL for 2 years and €30M fine. Good luck attracting and keeping WC players.

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Ajax seem to have found their Ziyech replacement and are ready to break their transfer record for this Brazilian kid. At 30 million euros this is a massive investment by Ajax

 

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On 15/02/2020 at 4:57 PM, !Hazard! said:

Ajax seem to have found their Ziyech replacement and are ready to break their transfer record for this Brazilian kid. At 30 million euros this is a massive investment by Ajax

 

Marco van Basten blasts Ajax over signing of Antony

https://en.onefootball.com/marco-van-basten-blasts-ajax-over-signing-of-antony/

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13 hours ago, Vesper said:

Marco van Basten blasts Ajax over signing of Antony

https://en.onefootball.com/marco-van-basten-blasts-ajax-over-signing-of-antony/

All these clubs, even the likes of Ajax, have to adapt at somepoint and keep up by investing in youngsters from other clubs that may be seen as someone with outstanding talent as opposed to usual traditions. Their academy is brilliant, no doubts, but for someone like van Basten to slam Ajax over one signing it seems like bitterness more than anything. I mean its hardly as if theyve shut ther academy for this guy is it? Or shunned someone from it for this guy? Ziyech was arguably the key to their team, sometimes you cant replace that with an academy player and get the same results straight away.

As I expect we will see at Man City when David Silva goes at the end of the season and Pep either uses Bernardo Silva in that position, shunning Phil Foden as his successor as he keeps calling him or signs another 8/10 and keeps Silva outwide, again shunning Foden. 

Again would Ajax have spent 30m euros if they had a player of that quality in that position in their academy? I doubt it really. Because the nature of how they are run is they buy/promote players and make a profit off them I wouldnt be surprised if this guy is maybe someone who could be a replacement for Neres who has been talked about a lot the past 18 months or even Ryan Babel who is there on loan more as opposed to Ziyech as well. Also if your at a club who loses de Ligt, de Jong and Ziyech in 2 seasons I think you can be entitled to spending a bit more on one or two players and not be criticised for it..

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16 minutes ago, OneMoSalah said:

All these clubs, even the likes of Ajax, have to adapt at somepoint and keep up by investing in youngsters from other clubs that may be seen as someone with outstanding talent as opposed to usual traditions. Their academy is brilliant, no doubts, but for someone like van Basten to slam Ajax over one signing it seems like bitterness more than anything. I mean its hardly as if theyve shut ther academy for this guy is it? Or shunned someone from it for this guy? Ziyech was arguably the key to their team, sometimes you cant replace that with an academy player and get the same results straight away.

As I expect we will see at Man City when David Silva goes at the end of the season and Pep either uses Bernardo Silva in that position, shunning Phil Foden as his successor as he keeps calling him or signs another 8/10 and keeps Silva outwide, again shunning Foden. 

Again would Ajax have spent 30m euros if they had a player of that quality in that position in their academy? I doubt it really. Because the nature of how they are run is they buy/promote players and make a profit off them I wouldnt be surprised if this guy is maybe someone who could be a replacement for Neres who has been talked about a lot the past 18 months or even Ryan Babel who is there on loan more as opposed to Ziyech as well. Also if your at a club who loses de Ligt, de Jong and Ziyech in 2 seasons I think you can be entitled to spending a bit more on one or two players and not be criticised for it..

And it is only £16.7m up front! £25m MAX if he hits every bonus.

So stupid. Obviously Ajax have scouted the hell out of him too.

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Van Basten is hypocrite, when he managed Ajax they bought Miralem Sulejmani for €16,25m in 2008 which was the most expensive signing in their history back then.

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Alisson vs Oblak: a poster boy for the modern game up against a throwback to a previous era. Two of the world’s best go head to head

https://theathletic.com/1613157/2020/02/18/alisson-oblak-liverpool-atletico-goalkeeper/

Alisson-Oblak-1024x683.png

Perhaps there is no position in football that has changed as much in recent years as that of the goalkeeper. While it was always important to have a reliable player in goal, their overall value within the squad often felt like it was overlooked in favour of other positions. There were exceptions of course but the majority of clubs believed their success wasn’t dependent on having a world-class goalkeeper. 

In the modern game a goalkeeper is far more involved as they are integrated into the shape of the team, nearly every single moment of the game, taking on much more of an all-encompassing role; crucial in both classic and modern ways. Shot-stopping and reflexes are as important as ever, but accurate distribution (over long and short distances), sweeping up behind the back line, and aggressive positioning are all just as vital. As a result of this massive paradigm shift, it’s never been more clear that in order to compete at the very top teams need to have a world-class goalkeeper.

On Tuesday, two of the best in the world, Liverpool’s Alisson and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak will meet in the first leg of the Champions League last 16. There are few who personify a goalkeepers’ importance to their team over the past couple of years better than these two. Most interestingly, they’ve done so despite playing in tactical setups with contrasting styles and requirements being put on the goalkeeper. While they do share some similar characteristics in their skill-set, they are also uniquely different in their approach to goalkeeping.

In football, a team’s tactical system and the collection of players on the pitch is crucial to their team’s performance. Not only do the players need to have the technical skill-set to execute the game plan well, they also need to have the tactical acumen to process the game in front of them and play the ball into the necessary areas at exactly the right time. It’s one thing to understand this as a player and another entirely to actually carry it out on the field of play. This is especially true at the goalkeeper position.

Jurgen Klopp has built his Liverpool squad around a highly skilled and pacey attack that quickly pushes players forward into the opponent’s half in an attempt to overwhelm and suffocate the opposition with numerical advantages in the most vulnerable part of the field. In order for them to be as successful as they have it’s been vital for his goalkeeper to be fast and aggressive to close down the attackers, comfortable playing a high line (often 30+ yards from his goal), while also being an extra passing pivot when building up possession. 

Alisson’s skill-set perhaps makes him the poster child for the modern day goalkeeper. His ability to remain patient and in control with the ball at his feet as the chaos threatens to consume those around him is arguably his quintessential talent and vital for Liverpool and their build-up play. This allows him to receive and hold onto the ball in order to invite the press from the opposition and open up spaces for his team to exploit elsewhere on the pitch. 

Games can get frenetic, but a steadying presence at the back can help a team stay focused and composed, setting a foundation of belief and confidence that they can play out of even the most hectic situations. 

That skill, in addition to his incredible accuracy when playing the ball long helps stretch the field (which is the main objective of teams who play out from the back) and makes Liverpool incredibly hard to defend against. 

Alisson’s ability to play long balls accurately is an underrated trait we often don’t talk about that much with goalkeepers. It’s far more common to hear about passing ability in tight areas but it’s actually the accurate long balls (sometimes even just the threat of it being played) that puts pressure on the opposition, sparks fear and hesitation in the defenders, and inevitably opens up spaces short for the goalkeeper to pass into.

If the defence knows that the threat of the accurate long ball is there, teams will have to adjust, or risk leaving themselves exposed at the back. And no team enjoys running backward at full speed, trying to catch up to an attacker free on goal. Just ask Manchester United…

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It was Alisson’s deadly long ball that punished United as they pushed their entire team forward in search of a late equaliser in their Premier League match at the end of January. You can visibly see the pain, panic and frustration on the United players faces as they attempt to catch Mohamed Salah. The non-verbal reactions from the players as the strike hits the back of the net say more than any words could about the dilemma that teams face when playing against Liverpool. 

In addition to the more modern skill-set, Alisson is also a very good goalkeeper in the traditional sense. Last season he was one of two goalkeepers in the English top flight to boast a passing accuracy of more than 80% while also maintaining a save percentage above 70% (Manchester City’s Ederson was the other). This year both his passing accuracy and save percentage are well above 80%. His 87.23% save percentage this season is the best in the league by a fairly wide margin.  

Because of the nature of the way Liverpool play (they often hold possession for long periods of the game) it’s vital for their goalkeeper to be focused, tuned in, and come up with the big save when called upon. It’s not easy to go the majority of a match untested and then pull off the type of saves that Alisson does. It’s hard to explain how difficult this is to do and it’s certainly not a trait every goalkeeper possesses. On Saturday he came up big yet again against Norwich in a crucial moment of the match with the score at 0-0. Liverpool would go on to win 1-0.

 

These types of saves — in the most influential moments, when the game’s result hangs in the balance — are what Liverpool were missing for many years prior to Alisson’s arrival. He filled a dire need for the club, and has done so spectacularly. If it weren’t for his timely interventions during last season’s Champions League campaign it’s almost certain that Liverpool never would have ended up European champions. His tremendous stop against Napoli comes to mind. 

While Alisson is part of a group of goalkeepers who are constantly redefining what we thought a goalkeeper should, or even could be, Oblak’s play is similar to that of goalkeepers of the past. He is a bit more conservative and pragmatic in comparison, rarely moving out of position to make tackles, clearances or interceptions like many modern-day goalkeepers do. Instead, he elects to stay closer to his line, carefully picking and choosing the moments to leave his goal, often letting his defenders deal with balls deep into his box.

Diego Simeone has constructed one of the most organised and disciplined defensive teams on the globe, often forgoing numbers forward in favour of defensive security. In order for a team to defend as effectively as Atletico, each player — from the forwards to the goalkeeper — must fully buy into the system and execute his job with minimal lapses over 90 minutes and in every single game. The system would simply fall apart without this level of concentration and consistency. As goalkeeper, Oblak has been crucial to Atletico’s continued defensive success despite several personnel changes through the years. 

Oblak’s exceptional positioning and angle awareness is his greatest asset. There are many instances when you see a goalkeeper at full stretch and having to rely on their athleticism to make acrobatic saves; usually due to poor positioning. This very rarely ever happens to Oblak. The reason is down to his spatial awareness and innate ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time, anticipating the direction of the shot from the opposition. 

We often think of goalkeepers as reactive, since they are responding to the actions of the attackers in front of them. But proper positioning is what helps you become a proactive goalkeeper and able to think a few steps ahead of the play. 

This is vital because it means you are no longer a prisoner of the moment, scrambling to stay on top of everything you need to do — check your post, take one step to your right, get set, get back to your line, etc. — because it has become so ingrained in your psyche that you can execute your tasks almost subconsciously. This allows you to move your focus two or three steps ahead and anticipate the play unfolding before you.

Take his stop against Karim Benzema of Real Madrid from earlier this season as an example. It was the type of save that many goalkeepers would have struggled to get to, yet his timing and positioning make it appear almost ordinary.

 

As the ball is initially whipped into the centre of the box toward Benzema, Oblak is quick to realise that the Real striker will be the first to the ball and redirect it on target. Rather than get set in his starting position a few yards from goal he elected to take four rapid steps back to his goal-line and get set. There are two reasons he wanted to do this 1) because those extra steps backwards gave him additional time and space to make the save and 2) it allowed him to attack the ball at the necessary angle while creating a strong barrier to push it to safety. Had he failed to do either, we would potentially be looking at a goal against rather than a save.

By the time the ball was redirected on target Oblak was already in the optimum position to take one strong step to his left and fling his body toward the ball. Even though the Atletico No 1 claimed it was a routine save, it most certainly wasn’t.  

Additionally, Oblak is excellent in one-v-one situations, specifically in his use of the spread technique to thwart the opposition’s chances. It’s his positioning, patience, and anticipation, as well as his ability to close down the attacker astonishingly quickly, while sprawling to cover as much of the goal as possible, that helps him defend all possible shot directions and makes him extremely difficult to beat.

He’s virtually perfected the sprawling technique and the understanding of when is the correct moment/situation to do it. He keeps himself big without exposing too much of the net under his arms and between his legs, to the extent that I’m not sure there is a better goalkeeper in the world in breakaway situations. A stable force in goal is a crucial element for a team that relies so heavily on defensive discipline. Over and over, Oblak comes up big when the opposition manages to breach Atletico’s back line. His triple save against Bayern Leverkusen from 2017 stands out. 

The way he plays the game and moves as he traverses his goalmouth is eerily reminiscent of another goalkeeping great, Gianluigi Buffon, and the type of keeper that appears to be a dying breed. His continued success at playing a way that is now the outlier rather than the norm, and potentially even being the best goalkeeper in the world while doing so, is incredible.

What makes the position so fascinating is there are several different ways to play it and get the same result. It would be wrong to say that one way is better than the other because each goalkeeper has their own strengths, weaknesses, preferences and comforts that help them be as effective and successful as they are.

While both Alisson and Oblak fit their team perfectly, there are no guarantees that they would be able to adapt to the contrasting philosophies were they ever to switch teams. It takes a very specific type of goalkeeper to fit into each system.

In Alisson and Oblak we are witnessing two of the best goalkeepers in the world. The fact that they have reached these heights while playing in different leagues and systems with various demands and expectations being put on them is simply remarkable. As two masters of their craft face one another in the Champions League last 16, just enjoy it. 

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23 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

I want Bayern to get him first, i don't want to see Liverpool become stronger.

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I would rather see Harvetz there than Sancho.
But Harvertz still would be an amazing signing for their midfield, if he gets more consistent.

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5 minutes ago, killer1257 said:

I would rather see Harvetz there than Sancho.
But Harvertz still would be an amazing signing for their midfield, if he gets more consistent.

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I want Havertz badly, too bad we don't have any space left for AM or RW since we have Ziyech, Mount, RLC, and CHO.

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5 hours ago, Blues Forever said:

I want Havertz badly, too bad we don't have any space left for AM or RW since we have Ziyech, Mount, RLC, and CHO.

100m reasons why he ain't coming

Grealish would be better for the EPL anyway IMHO, even if he is 3 years and 9 months older

plus he will be 30 or £40m or so cheaper more than likely

he is a beast and has that captain's mentality of never say die

IF we do not go for Sancho, then surely Grealish has to be in the mix

Mount is dogshit as a creative, and no Sancho means Ziyech is mostly at RW as opposed to AMF

there are no guarantees that RLC will be the same player he was last season when next season starts

it may well take him all of next year to fully recover and claw his way back to form

his injury was truly massive, far worse than CHO's

I also can see RLC as a more trad CMF at times as well, or a box to box hybrid

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