Fuelled by the new TV deal, worth around 2,7 billion pounds, and an increasing amount of billionaire owners looking to flex the muscles in their wallets, the next three months could prove to be a record for spending in the transfer market for the English Premier League clubs.
With smaller clubs having spending budgets that only the big teams have had access to for the last few years, with the teams in the middle looking to spend big to challenge for a top four position, with Arsenal and Liverpool hoping to challenge for the title, with Chelsea looking towards regaining the title and with Man Utd hoping to keep the chasing pack at bay, it seems most of the money in Europe will be coming from England during this close season.
Manchester United’s summer spending has already begun, with the signing of Owen Hargreaves likely to be completed this week. This has been one of the longest transfer saga’s of recent times, as United tried several times to sign the Bayern Munich midfielder from August last year, and seem to have finally captured their man. The fee is expected to be in the region of 17million pounds. While this may seem like a chunk of Uniteds transfer budget already spent in the opening weeks, it must be remembered that this money was put forward for Hargreaves last season, and so this seasons budget has not been touched yet. United, who only signed Michael Carrick last season, will also have the money received from Chelsea as part of the Obi Mikel deal to add to their inflated funds. This means that United could be more active than usual in the spending season as they look to add quality and size to their squad that will allow them to lay a double assault on the defending of their league title, and on Europe, next season. Sir Alex has already handed in his target list to David Gil and can expect some movement in this regard in the coming months. Young Southampton left back Gareth Bale, Nani of Sporting Lisbon, and Fernando Torres of Athletico Madrid are said to be his main targets. Berbatov and Lennon of Spurs are also wanted, but it is thought Ferguson is likely to wait another season before making a move for the pair. Nani, who is believed to favour a move to United, where he would link up with another ex Sporting youngster in Christiano Ronaldo, Torres and Bale, fit the mould of young, talented players that Fergie would like to inject into his improving team. Samuel Eto’o of Barcelona is also reputedly a target, but an asking price of 40 million pounds may put United off.
Chelsea, who have been the main spenders of recent times, and are responsible for the inflated prices of many players, may be the quietest of spenders this time round. If Mourinho is given another year in charge of Chelsea, as is being expected, he is likely to have to spend less then he has been accustomed to in previous close seasons, as the Chelsea board attempt to make the club more economical, and are unlikely to give vast sums of money to a manager they are giving one last chance to. This means that he may have to spend to buy, something that Chelsea have not had to do for three seasons now. Alex of PSV, who is virtually a Chelsea player already, should arrive to bolster the defence, with Jorge Andrade of Deportivo La Coruna also mentioned. Andrade could cost as little as 2 million. Steve Sidwell is expected to arrive on a Bosman free from Reading. Chelsea have also been mentioned with a move for Benni McCarthy of Blackburn, who was at Porto with Mourinho. Should Mourinho not survive into the off season it is very likely that Chelsea will look to a high profile manager and back him with the blank cheque that has greeted the managers under Abromovich’s reign.
Arsenal and Liverpool will be looking to close the increasing gap on the front to and mount a serious title challenge themselves, instead of fighting over third and fourth place, their battle of the last three seasons. Arsenal will first look to convince Thierry Henry to stay at the Emirate’s Stadium, and then show him that they are serious about competing with United and Chelsea, and in Europe, buy bringing in some quality players to add to their youthful squad. Wenger has said that he is will only add one or two names to the squad, and that they will only be of “super, super class.” Franck Ribery and the Ajax youngster Ryan Babel are two who have been mentioned, and would look to fill the gap by the departure of Freddie Ljungberg, who has been touted to be on his way out. Liverpool, who will have the American backed millions to add to their slice of the TV revenue have already signed three new players in Lucas Leiva, a 7million pound signing from Gremio in Brazil, Sebastian Leto from Lanus in Argentina, and Andrei Voronin, the Ukraine striker from Bayern Leverkusen,on a Bosman free. They would also like to reunited Javier Mascherano with Carlos Tevez, but whether this will be done is open to debate, as Tevez is also wanted by the big teams in Italy and Spain. Darren Bent of relegated Charlton is also on their hit list.
West Ham and Spurs are also linked with Bent, and for the first time we could see other teams in the division matching the big four with spending. Spurs and West Ham are likely to be joined by Aston Villa, with Randy Lerner’s investment, Newcastle, Sunderland, Man City, Everton, Blackburn, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough in the spending game, as they all chase European spots. Promoted Sunderland could give manager Roy Keane as much as 35 million in a bid to ensure survival, and he is said to be making moves for former team mates Nicky Butt, Wes Brown and Diego Forlan, as well as Damien Duff. Spurs are likely to join the chase for Gareth Bale, as well as showing interest in Pedersen of Blackburn and Bent.
With so much money injected into the league through the new TV deal, with higher stakes involved in insuring you’re around for the next TV deal, it isn’t just going to be the big four spending vast sums of money in the quest for glory. Big money is about to be spent in Europe, record breaking money. The madness should begin soon.