Having surpassed the fee of last year’s world record transfer (at the time) of Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United, the transfer of Neymar to PSG symbolizes a new age of football once again.
Wenger, who has spent much of his managerial career tethered to his fundamental belief that clubs should not overpay for players, now believes that anything is possible within football, now that countries are capable of owning clubs.
Speaking to the Independent in a press conference on Friday, Wenger pleaded for football to start living within its own resources.
“For me, it is the consequence of the ownerships that have completely changed the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years,
“Once a country owns a club, everything is possible.
“Because there are different ways for a country to have such a big player to represent a country.”
Goalkeeper = £10m
Defenders = £35.2m
Midfielders = £46.7m
Forwards = £101.8m
2017 summer transfer window XI = £193.7m 🤑
Neymar = £198m 🤑 pic.twitter.com/bfbuNJJTmN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 5, 2017
Wenger believes that the purchase of Neymar by PSG, who are owned by Qatar, was an investment in national pride for the prosperous nation. The concerns are that the purchase will continue to distort a market which is currently seeing itself inflated at a rate higher than usual.
“The number today involves a lot of passion, pride and public interest, and you cannot rationalise that anymore,
“You cannot justify the investment, it looks unusual for the game. That’s why I always (support) football living with its own resources.
“Apart from that, we are not in a period anymore where you think ‘If I invest that, I will get that back’. We are beyond that.”
“That’s why I always plead for football living with its own resources.”
Football and market inflation
Having the transfer record being broken in two consecutive seasons is quite something, suggesting that the rate of inflation is increasing at a higher rate than usual.
“It also looks like the inflation is accelerating,” Wenger continued.
“We crossed the £100m line last year and only one year later, we’re crossing the £200m line.
“When you think that Trevor Francis was the first £1m player [in 1979] and that looked unreasonable, that shows you how much distance and how far we have come. How big football has become. It’s beyond calculation and beyond rationality.”
However, a key point to remember is that transfer fees no longer necessarily reflect a player’s ability. When PSG purchased Neymar earlier this week, they didn’t just buy Neymar the player, they bought Neymar: the brand.
During Neymar’s opening press conference for PSG earlier this week, club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi assured jouranlists that the club were confident that the player would eventually generate profit from the player.
“Today a player is worth what the club can afford to spend,” Wenger continued.
“The price of a player depends on the identity of the buyer. You cannot put it in the context of the market. It is the financial potential of the buyer that decides the price of the player today.”
Below is a list of world record transfer fees since 2001.
2017: Neymar – £198m
2016: Paul Pogba – £89.3m
2013: Gareth Bale – £85.3m
2009: Cristiano Ronaldo – £80m
2001: Zinedine Zidane – £46.6m