Graham Dougan was a youth prospect at Arsenal in the 1970s but never quite made the grade, making his career in the upper echelons of the old division two. He was also a Scottish U25 international. He is a regular pundit on TV in Malta and Luxembourg, and an after-dinner speaker of some repute.
He’ll write a column exclusively for the site and we hope you’ll enjoy his keen insight. This week he looks at the transfer market, which has exploded this summer.
Like most people in the world of football, I was astonished when PSG broke the world transfer record by signing Neymar from Barcelona.
A fee of over €220m is very difficult to get your head around, although it’s easy to understand why the talented Brazilian has agreed to move from one of the top clubs in the world to a lower league like the French division one, or division ‘un’ as they might call it. It’s clear that money talks, and the Paris money which is actually money from Catarrh in the middle-east, must be shouting very loudly.
“GET ME IN YOUR POCKET, NEYMARK!”, it’s bellowing as it’s placed in front of him in the form of gold bullion that probably wouldn’t fit in his pocket anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine player, and like so many of the greats such as Lineker, Rooney, Adebayor and Cesc, he’s known only by his surname. That’s great for branding and great for fans too because they don’t have to pay for extra letters when they get his name on the back of their shirts.
In general however the transfer market itself has gone crazy. If I was astonished by Neymar’s move to Paris, I nearly boiled my own balls in an eggcup when I saw that Manchester City had paid £50m for Kyle Walker.
It’s a great piece of business for Spurs, but I thought Pip Guardiola was supposed to be some kind of football genius, like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rainman. The former Cataloon international has definitely been counting the wrong cards because back in my day you didn’t become the most expensive defender in the world if the only thing you could do is run very fast while looking like you can’t even remember your own name.
How are we supposed to make any sense of it all when Swansea turn down £45 for Gilby Siginsson? By that reckoning, even at my age, I’m probably worth around £1,000,000 – and you can be sure my wife would accept that if anybody made a bid. Well, she would if we were still married and she hadn’t run off with my neighbour Clive. Not that I’m bitter but if I ever see him again I’m going to two-foot him, even if it’s in Sainsbury’s and there are witnesses.
The whole thing sets a dangerous president because there’s only one way prices are going to go, and that’s up. PSG have won pre-season by spending more than anyone else and that’s what fans love these days. There’s no such thing as team building any more, it’s all about how much cash you can splash.
I predict that within five years we’ll have the first billion pound footballer. Think about that! That’s a thousand million Trevor Francis’s and when he became the first million pound player back in the 70s we all thought the world had gone mad.
In some ways that’s why seeing Arsenal’s new free signing do so well gives me some hope. They didn’t pay a huge amount of money for Sead Koalasnatch, he was free! That’s a bargain for sure, and it shows there’s still value for money in the market if you look hard enough.
I enjoyed his performance in the Communist Shield at Wembley on Sunday. It’s great to see a powerhouse running with the ball like that. I can tell you if I saw a player like Korasnilac steaming towards me I’d bottle it like John Terry taking a penalty to win the Champions League.
No doubt there’ll be more transfer madness before the window closes at the end of August and even if we are critical of it at times, we have to be be honest and admit it is one of the greatest things about football.
Wealthy individuals and institutions buying human beings from one another is not just sport, but civilisation, at its finest.