A LOOK AT LA LIGA
It's that time of year when the agents, friends of agents and 'influencers' get themselves busy as the winter transfer window creaks open.
If you see me on a Costa boardwalk over the next couple of weeks please don't let them know back home, I'm in hiding from the whole media circus!
It's ironic that the selling season coincides with the January sales in the shops, when the unwanted stock is shuffled to the front of the shelf and flogged off at a bargain price. It is the season of panic trading.
The last significant winter sale was Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool to Barcelona for a reported 140 million euros. Look how that turned out; he never settled and was soon sent out on loan.
It's amazing how often players move between La Liga and the Premier League without making any significant impact. In truth it's normally the Spanish clubs who do better due diligence than their English counterparts.
Too often those recruiting footballers turn a blind eye to the weaknesses of a target and concentrate on the perceived strengths.
A few years back, a Premier League club asked me to get them a video of a certain player's last couple of games. That was easy for me. In both games he'd performed well, and, on that evidence, they were prepared to invest heavily. However, I suggested that they check his stats. They were the only two games he'd played for six months due to a recurring injury and when he'd featured previously, he'd seen two red cards in six games.
I'd like to think I saved that club ten million euros. The agent would have asked for 10 per cent so maybe I should have invoiced for similar?
Scarily, football clubs are signing footballers, often based on a cleverly edited video where he looks like a world beater, but he turns out to be a panel beater.
English clubs are guilty of gullibility and it has proven costly. Take Roberto, the goalkeeper who never really made a mark in his homeland. He must have a persuasive agent to get him a move to West Ham where he has been woeful.
If asked, I could have told Arsenal that Dani Ceballos and Denis Suárez had embellished CVs. Neither would claim a regular place in a top-three club in Spain and neither helped make the Gunners a top-three club in England.
There are some like Roque Mesa, Iago Aspas, José and Sandro Ramírez who looked like bargains to be had. They ended up like 1980s timeshare investments, losing value from the day they were bought.
It's not all doom and gloom. There are success stories. Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré were wise investments for Wolves, Rodri is establishing himself at Manchester City and Gerard Deulofeu is regularly Watford's best player.
It should be noted that those players were all signed by managers who'd worked in Spain and therefore had done a thorough background check.
Mark my words, there will be half a dozen players who move from La Liga to the Premier League in the next couple of weeks for a hefty amount or generous loan fee who will fail to make a mark.
It's like judging a film by the trailer. They are the 'Cats' of the footballing world. The promo looks magnificent but having read the reviews I will be giving it a big swerve.