A whole new ball game

James, an unaffordable luxury?
James, an unaffordable luxury? / AFP
  • The 'new normal' for football is likely to see the end of inflated fees, massive wages and cuts for agents

Anyone who was the supremo of swapping football stickers (or cigarette cards for older readers) could soon be much sought after by the leading football clubs.

Directors of football could be replaced by savvy twelve-year-olds who understand the value of swapping and trading football faces in the sticker season.

"You want my Neymar? I'll swap you for your Griezmann and Rakitic!"

"I will give you Bale if you let me have Pogba."

The upside of the 'new normal' in football is the fact that crazy, inflated transfer fees will be a thing of the past. As part of the revolution the transfer market is set to become a trading market, going back through the ages when merchants bartered and exchanged their goods. The whole football industry is about to undergo a complete transformation with an injection of austerity and accountability.

The European game may soon mirror the American sports where trading is prevalent (although I still can't work out their complicated system). No more ridiculous price tags, wages will reduce dramatically and hopefully the agents will no longer have such an influence. Basically, clubs will have to offload surplus players, reduce wage bills and use their imagination in the recruitment market.

I'd welcome a summer when newspapers, television and radio stations aren't dominated by transfer gossip driven by 'sources' who are basically agents trying to manoeuvre the market for their own gain.

Instead, the whole industry could become like cash in the attic. There are hundreds of millions of pounds worth of players who are surplus to requirements and very few will be classed as indispensable.

It has been reported that Barcelona would consider selling all but three players, Lionel Messi, Frenkie de Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen as they need to fill a big black hole in their budget. There's no chance of recouping the 160-million-euro transfer fee for the unwanted Philippe Coutinho; the 15 million they paid for Martin Braithwaite as a stop-gap striker just four months ago will have to be written off as the wage bill will have to be trimmed.

Neymar's agent, meanwhile, is unusually suggesting that his client is happy in Paris. This appears to be out of character until you realise there won't be a negotiable cut and deals like the record 222 million euros are unlikely to ever happen again.

It's a dilemma for some of the biggest names in world football who may find their maintenance is too much in the new climate. Who can afford the likes of Gareth Bale, Paul Pogba, James Rodríguez, Antoine Griezmann and Coutinho? It's like having a Bentley in the garage, nobody can afford to take it off your hands and as it rusts the price decreases.

It's a whole new ball game.