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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 11:55 GMT
When transfers go mad
Hernan Crespo
Hernan Crespo poised for multi-millionaire switch
Were you really shocked at Hernan Crespo's proposed 40m transfer from Parma to Lazio?

The name, maybe, but surely not the amount.

If it is the summer, then there must be a huge transfer from one of the football giants to another.

It is one of the unspoken rules of the game, in the way that teams always win their first game after a manager is sacked.

And, just as predictably, the same question is always asked - has the world gone mad?

Christian Vieri
Christian Vieri: 33m well spent?

Comparisons are made between the amount spent on one fragile young player and what could be bought in the 'real' world.

This is to miss the point. Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti has no interest in buying 30 new hospitals for the NHS, or ridding one small African state of debt.

Champions League

Neither of those courses of action would take his football club within touching distance of the Champions League - and that is what it is all about.

Lazio may have finally claimed the Serie A title last season, but the Champions League is the don dada of them all. So, sensibly, Mr Cragnotti is dipping into his club's coffers to make sure they are ready to take on the very best in Europe.

Trouble is, the true worth of your Big Summer Signing is often highly debatable.

Where did the signing of Christian Vieri get Inter Milan last summer? He may have scored 18 goals in 25 appearances, but the trophy cabinet ended the season just as empty as it had been at the start of the year.

Thirty-three million pounds for the honour of being also-rans? The cost of living really has gone up.

Does Denilson ever regret his Betis move?

Then there is Nicolas Anelka. It cost 23.5m for Real Madrid to take him to the Bernabeu, and what did it get them? Four goals. Admittedly they won the big one, the Champions League, but the Frenchman's role in that was marginal to say the least.

Go back to 1997, when Denilson's 23m move from Sao Paulo to Real Betis made him briefly the most expensive player in history. That is right, Real Betis. Seen them celebrating with a big trophy recently? Of course you have not.


Closer to home, Alan Shearer's 15m move from Blackburn to Newcastle in the summer of 1996 was meant to be the final part of Kevin Keegan's Toon jigsaw, the missing piece that had seen them lose out in the Premiership by a fraction the season before.

Six months later, Keegan was gone. Four years later, so have Newcastle's realistic hopes of winning the Premiership.

Who really benefits?

The selling club find themselves with millions of pounds burning a hole in their pockets, which immediately doubles the price of any replacement players they were interested in.

The player gets a hefty wedge for the move, but then finds themselves staggering under the weight of expectation and that big fat fee.

The fans end up forking out even more for the privilege of watching the new acquisition fail to bed in properly with his new team-mates.

And the agent? The agent quietly trousers his hefty commission, allows himself a little smile and then pencils in the same date next summer for the next big move.

Simple, eh?

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See also:

11 Jul 00 |  Europe
Lazio's 40m Crespo deal
11 Jul 00 |  Europe
Munitis in "dream move"
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