Talking to a German newspaper, Franz Beckenbauer said, “These sums of money are ridiculous. But there is always some lunatic who walks around throwing money away.” He’s talking, of course, about the gigantic sums of money Real Madrid spent on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká, and Franck Ribéry. To a degree, Der Kaiser is right: Real Madrid has inflated the transfer market.
But it must be noted that they didn’t start this; they’re simply the latest in a long line of teams that have upped the ante. Sure, there was the original Galáctico era but that didn’t really affect anyone except the Galácticos. The trouble really started when billionaires desiring instant gratification emerged: Abramovich in Chelsea and now the Sheik at Man City. To a lesser degree, I could include Inter Milan and AC Milan in this. And despite Beckenbauer’s protests, Bayern Munich is hardly a small club.
But I digress. That development – billionaires desiring instant gratification – led to the “Chelsea price” or the “Man City price” for players. That is, one price for “normal” clubs and one price for them. It’s like Football Manager where the human user has to pay twice the player’s stated value in order to secure a transfer while the computer users pay prices closer to the listed value. I don’t blame rival clubs for doing that; it’s just good business.
But Beckenbauer has a point. His team is considered big yet it must exist within a budget. It can afford to spend €15 million on Ribéry but not €80 million on anyone in any summer. Not that UEFA or FIFA can do anything about it; neither organization can tell a club how to go about its business, unless the club is in receivership. Beckenbauer himself concedes that he doesn’t think “a salary cap would work. But [he is] sure something will happen soon.” Something will happen: nothing counts as something, right?