Eng­land’s big guns reload as trans­fer arms race heats up

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Premier League spend­ing looks cer­tain to shat­ter all pre­vi­ous records be­fore the cur­rent trans­fer win­dow closes as Eng­land’s su­per­pow­ers reload in an in­creas­ingly fren­zied arms race.

Fu­eled by lu­cra­tive tele­vi­sion con­tracts, cur­rently worth around $10.8 bil­lion and un­prece­dented rev­enue streams at home and over­seas, the 20 Premier League teams have spent like never be­fore in the weeks since the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow opened.

Al­ready close to $1.2 bil­lion has been paid for new play­ers, with the sin­gle win­dow record of $1.7 bil­lion well within reach with over a month be­fore the mar­ket closes.

De­ter­mined to make amends for last sea­son’s sur­pris­ingly lack­lus­ter de­but cam­paign in the Premier League, which saw Manch­ester City fin­ish 15 points be­hind cham­pi­ons Chelsea, Pep Guardi­ola has played a key role in driv­ing the mar­ket sky high.

City boss Guardi­ola, backed by his club’s Abu Dhabi-based bil­lion­aire own­ers, has em­barked on a his­tor­i­cally lav­ish spend­ing spree, in­clud­ing pay­ing $68 mil­lion for Monaco’s Ben­jamin Mendy in a world-record deal for a de­fender on Mon­day.

Mendy’s ar­rival came just days af­ter the $34 mil­lion cap­ture of Danilo from Real Madrid.

Eng­land right­back Kyle Walker cost City $65 mil­lion from Tot­ten­ham as Guardi­ola took just 10 days to spend $167 mil­lion on three full­backs.

A $54 mil­lion of­fer per­suaded Monaco to sell Bernardo Silva to City, while Dou­glas Luiz moved to East­lands from Vasco Da Gama for $13.5 mil­lion.

Throw in Guardi­ola’s $44 mil­lion swoop for Ben­fica goal­keeper Eder­son and the Spa­niard has al­ready splashed out $280 mil­lion.

That eclipsed the record spend­ing to­tal for a Bri­tish club in a sin­gle trans­fer pe­riod, rac­ing past the $219 mil­lion mark which, not sur­pris­ingly, was also set by Guardi­ola last sea­son.

City seem cer­tain to shat­ter the $288 mil­lion forked out by

From left: Ben­jamin Mendy, Danilo and Kyle Walker.

Real Madrid in the sum­mer of 2009 — which stands as the big­gest out­lay in one trans­fer win­dow.

Guardi­ola would love to land $65 mil­lion-rated Arse­nal for­ward Alexis Sanchez, who is re­fus­ing to ex­tend a con­tract that ex­pires next sum­mer, by the time the Premier League be­gins on Aug 11.

As­tro­nom­i­cal

Keen not to be left be­hind by City, Chelsea man­ager An­to­nio Conte has been pres­sur­ing Blues owner Ro­man Abramovich to back his de­mand for ma­jor in­vest­ment ahead of his side’s re­turn to the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter a one-year ab­sence.

So far, Chelsea has spent over $156 mil­lion, with its head­line deals a $75.5 mil­lion move for Real Madrid striker Al­varo Mo­rata and a $44 mil­lion swoop for Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho had to pay a Bri­tish-record $98 mil­lion to beat his old club Chelsea to the sig­na­ture of Ever­ton’s Bel­gian for­ward Romelu Lukaku.

That deal, fol­low­ing the $40 mil­lion sign­ing of Ben­fica’s Vic­tor Lin­de­lof, moved United over the $132 mil­lion mark.

Arsene Wenger’s de­ci­sion to ex­tend his 21-year reign at Arse­nal af­ter a tur­bu­lent sea­son per­suaded Gun­ners owner Stan Kroenke to sanc­tion the club-record $65.5 mil­lion sign­ing of striker Alexan­dre La­cazette from Lyon.

Liver­pool also broke its trans­fer record, pay­ing $48 mil­lion for Roma winger Mo­hamed Salah.

And, in a per­fect encapsulation of the Premier League’s spend­ing prow­ess, even Ever­ton, no­to­ri­ously care­ful with their fi­nances in the past, has paid over $118 mil­lion as it lured Wayne Rooney, Michael Keane and Jor­dan Pick­ford among oth­ers to Good­i­son Park.

Newly pro­moted Hud­der­s­field and New­cas­tle have both spent over $42 mil­lion al­ready, while only Tot­ten­ham and Stoke have yet to get the check book out.

While some look at the as­tro­nom­i­cal fees be­ing paid and won­der if the de­sire of English clubs to flex their fi­nan­cial mus­cles could one day prove fa­tal for some of the less his­tor­i­cally suc­cess­ful teams, the Premier League’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Richard Scu­d­amore in­sists the spree re­mains sus­tain­able.

“Prof­itabil­ity is im­prov­ing. The most im­por­tant thing is player costs as a per­cent­age of turnover,” Scu­d­amore said last week.

“We’re down in the early 60 per­cents and we were much higher 10 years ago. Sixty per cent of turnover spent on player costs is ac­tu­ally very man­age­able.”

Scu­d­amore’s mes­sage is sim­ple: Carry on spend­ing and there’s lit­tle doubt his league will rise to the chal­lenge.

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