Casemiro has recently signed for Manchester United. / REUTERS

Excessive Premier League premium

English clubs find themselves paying top dollar for good talent that perhaps isn't worth quite as much as they offer

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

The mega-money transfers of Casemiro and Alexander Isak to Manchester United and Newcastle are a reminder of the unwritten rule that transfer fees must be inflated when an English Premier League club comes calling.

It's like the market trader who sets the price of his fruit and vegetables to the cut of the client. If you are dressed in a fur coat and take your money out of a designer handbag, you get charged top dollar.

The Casemiro move suited everybody. The Brazilian doubled his wages and secured his autumn years with a long-term contract at a major European club. Manchester United secured a headline signing and proven top-class midfielder. Real Madrid cashed in on a player who has served them well; but they already signed his replacement.

Tchouaméni did cost €80 million but is eight years younger than his predecessor, is already a France international and has his peak years ahead. Casemiro was sold for €70 million, but I reckon around €40 million was the 'Premier League premium'.

It has been the same for Isak. He's been a very decent player for Real Sociedad with a ratio of one goal in every three games and he was part of their Copa winning team in 2020. At 6 foot 4 inches, he's a fine athlete and does possess a fair amount of skill; yet he's never managed to display this consistently.

So, when Newcastle tabled a reported 70 million-euro bid, la Real couldn't say "¡Sí señor!" quickly enough.

It's a joke within the football industry that managers often sign players based on YouTube highlights. If Newcastle looked for Isak's last game, they would have been impressed with his goal against Barcelona. If they'd dug a little deeper, they would struggle to find goals, scoring two in his previous 17 Liga matches. You'd think they would serve a deeper due diligence.

One English club did once run the then Levante midfielder, Jefferson Lerma, past me. My feedback was: "Tough player, brings steel to midfield, good age, tendency to get booked and suspended too often".

I suggested that a club like Levante would happily accept a €6 million bid, ten-fold the amount they'd paid to bring him to Europe. The club I spoke to bid considerably more, but nowhere near the €30 million paid by Bournemouth.

Frenkie de Jong is another player with a 'Premier League premium'. Manchester United have been desperate to sign a marquee player; Barcelona are desperate for dosh. and the transfer is unlikely to happen.

The "Premier League Premium" tax does work both ways of course. The two biggest disasters in recent years have been players who have moved to La Liga on the back of their reputation in England. Eden Hazard cost Real Madrid more than €100 million and Liverpool banked around €140 million for Philippe Coutinho.

Modern day football is just like one big game of Monopoly where you can make up your own excessive fees to buyers who need a get out of jail card.