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Thu Apr 24 05:41:35 SAST 2014

Has the game 'gone mad'?

Carlo Petersen, TEAMtalk Media | 12 August, 2012 14:190 Comments
Lucas of Brazil controls the ball during their men's first round Group C preliminary match against New Zealand at the London 2012 Olympic Games at St James' Park in Newcastle, August 1, 2012
Image by: Nigel Roddis / REUTERS

Some may say Sir Alex Ferguson's recent harsh criticism PSG's reported £35m deal for Lucas Moura could be a case of sour grapes.

Some may say Sir Alex Ferguson's recent harsh criticism of French club Paris Saint-Germain's reported £35million deal for Brazil starlet Lucas Moura could be a case of sour grapes.

Ferguson was quoted as saying: "When somebody's paying 45m euros for a 19-year-old boy you have to say the game's gone mad." So after the Brazil starlet shunned Manchester United to join the big-spending Ligue 1 outfit, it's obvious the club's supporters would agree that money is ruining the beautiful game.

In the last decade we've seen ridiculous amounts of cash being splashed by top clubs to acquire the best talents in the game. Cristiano Ronaldo broke records when Real Madrid paid the Red Devils £80million for his proven goal prowess.

Before that we saw Samba King Kaka sold for £56million from AC Milan to Real Madrid, Fernando Torres' clinical form in front of goal also boosted Liverpool's coffers with £50million when Roman Abramovich (Chelsea owner) splashed the cash for the Blues, and who could ever forget Zinedine Zidane's record £60million transfer to Real Madrid from Juventus in 2001.

Now you could probably feed the world's hungry for a lifetime with all that money, but the real question here is: Are those players really worth all that cash?

The only two that really stand out here are Ronaldo and Zidane, who have both proven their worth consistently. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for teenager Moura, who has hardly had enough time to back up such a hefty price-tag.

When the Qatar Investment Authority became the sole shareholder of PSG in 2011, the club's new president Nasser Al-Khelaifi announced he would invest £100million in transfers to build a new team.

Al-Khelaifi demanded a major trophy haul last season, but PSG fell short after being ousted from the Europa League before losing out in both domestic cups and then, despite spending more than £84.5million on players, minnows Montpellier managed to overcome PSG's challenge for the league title.

PSG will be hungry to bag the Ligue 1 crown after the football gods shone on Montpellier, who scooped the league trophy on the final day of last season by a mere one point.

This summer the Parisian giants have already spent in the excess of £110million after acquiring the services of Mathias Jorgensen (free), Luciano Narsingh (£3.1m), Mark van Bommel (free), Thiago Silva (£33m), Marco Verratti (£10m), Ezequiel Lavezzi (£24m), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (£16m) and finally Lucas Moura (£35m).

It's a huge risk spending all that money and one needs only look at La Liga club Malaga's fall from grace to highlight the danger involved here. Due to initial financial problems, Malaga looked to the Qatari Royal Family's Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani. The businessman was soon announced as the club's owner in June 2010. Al-Thani bought some big-name players and converted Malaga to a major football club.

Last season the Andalusians achieved their highest ever place in the league, finishing fourth to qualify for the Champions League play-offs and a guaranteed place in European football. But financial backing has since decreased due to a breakdown in the club's relationship with the owner, who has since made moves to sell his shares, leaving the club riddled with debt and unable to pay players' wages.

This has led to valuable players being sold below their worth and the club now facing the ominous task of rebuilding their team. A fine example of the huge risks at play here. Football should be about grooming young players into great players - about bagging that bargain deal and battling to bring in titles (Eric Cantona from Leeds to United for a meager £1.2million is one which comes to mind here).

But these days clubs are only as strong as their bank account and the world of football has changed so much so that it's becoming almost impossible for any team to achieve success.

The huge amounts of money not only puts pressure on poorer clubs, but it also results in these smaller teams never being able to challenge the richer clubs unless they too get bankrolled by a billionaire.

Let's try and keep the game beautiful ladies and gents, after all, it should not be all about the money, it should be about football!

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Has the game 'gone mad'?

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Thu Apr 24 05:41:35 SAST 2014 ::