It is not just Ray Parlour's divorce settlement that has made this an unusually cruel summer for that happy breed known as professional footballers.
It is not just Ray Parlour's divorce settlement that has made this an unusually cruel summer for that happy breed known as professional footballers.
Until Sean Davis joined Tottenham yesterday, 103 had left Premiership clubs since the end of the season, of whom two had commanded a fee. In years gone by Emile Heskey might have faced pressure to justify the £6.25m package Birmingham have lavished on him, but when 101 others have been, essentially, given away the weight on the England striker's shoulders is likely to feel heavier.
You are unlikely to have heard much about the other exception and Manchester City would prefer it that way. Vicente Matias Vuoso may have earned Kevin Keegan £1m when he was transferred to the Mexican club, Santos Lugana, but he cost City more than three times that in the summer of 2002. An Argentinian Under-21 international, he never managed a single first-team match for Keegan.
In England, the age of the transfer fee is almost dead. "It's been going that way for a while," says Alan Switzer, a consultant for Deloitte's sports business group. "Star players are star players - the likes of David Beckham and Wayne Rooney will continue to command big fees and so will up-and-coming youngsters. But squad players will earn you nothing."
Vuoso is just one of a number of appalling risks taken by Premiership clubs during football's long party which came to an end with the collapse of Leeds United into a chasm of debt they had dug themselves.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are still running a late bar. Of the £103.8m already spent by Premiership clubs, nearly two-thirds have come from the big three. Should Rooney be prised from Goodison Park for around the £35m Manchester United are willing to pay, it will rise to 70 per cent.
Of that £103m, a little over a quarter (£28.3m) has remained in the English game and, of that, £18.5m went to buy almost the last remaining assets of the Leeds side that two years ago were preparing for the last push towards the championship. PSV Eindhoven alone received more than that via the £12m transfer of Arjen Robben to Chelsea. Outside Leeds, for every pound paid out by the Premiership in transfer fees, nine pence stayed to fund English football.
Should the transfer of Tim Cahill from Millwall to Crystal Palace be concluded, it will be the only traditional summer transfer, from a lower-league club selling their best player to a top-flight team.
Ian Elliott, a Newcastle-based agent, does not find these statistics surprising. "I think a lot of First and Second Division clubs have simply priced themselves out of the market," he says. "I'll make an enquiry on behalf of a club I work for and I will get a ridiculous answer. I'll go back and say to the chairman that I can get a Bulgarian international for £500,000. But the danger is that you can get a very average international."
Switzer points out that of all the money spent by the Premiership in 2002-3 only £18m benefited the rest of the game: "There is a trickle-down effect, but last summer the only clubs that really saw it were West Ham and Sunderland. This year, it's two other relegated clubs, Leeds and Leicester, who need to flog off players to clear debts. Last summer Chelsea bought Joe Cole from West Ham and spent £17m at Blackburn for Damien Duff. This time, they've gone abroad."
The traffic is entirely one way. Wage levels in the Premiership are so high there is no incentive to leave. When Paul Gascoigne joined Lazio from Tottenham, his salary rose from £125,000 to £600,000 and that was half what Milan paid Ruud Gullit. These days Lazio would struggle to pay him anything and even Beckham took a slight pay cut to go the Bernabeu.
Elliott believes the volume of imports has distorted the market: "I'll tell you who the happiest man in football is now; it's the president of Porto. He has sold Paulo Ferreira, who played one game for Portugal in Euro 2004 for £13m, and has picked up [Georgios] Seitaridis, probably the player of the tournament, for a 10th of the price.
"I was acting for two Premiership clubs interested in Seitaridis and I kept telling them he was going to Porto and they had to move quickly. When he moved, I was phoned up by a chief scout and given a real bollocking. I told him I had done my job. That's the problem with plcs, they have to explain every mistake to the shareholders. They can't move quickly."
The sale of Rooney looks likely to be the great set-piece transfer event of this summer, just as the departure of David Beckham for Madrid was in 2003. Everton will sell Rooney for the same reason they sold Gary Lineker in the aftermath of the 1986 World Cup - because someone offered them a record amount of money to do so. Times change in football, but the economics remains the same.
While boasting undisputedly the best first XI in English and maybe European football, Arsenal still lack depth, especially after Arsène Wenger's summer clear-out. However, Wenger continues to collect high-class, intriguing bargains. He has obtained Manuel Almunia for a quarter of what Celta Vigo originally asked for, while Robin Van Persie could be an outrageously exciting talent.
On Board: Robin van Persie (Feyenoord, £3m), Manuel Almunia (Celta Vigo, £500,000), Arturo Lupoli (Parma, free).
On The Quayside: Hatem Trabelsi (Ajax).
Overboard: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Barcelona, £2m), David Bentley (Norwich City, loan), Stathis Tavlaridis (Lille, free), Martin Keown, Rami Shaaban, Igors Stepanovs, Kanu, Sylvain Wiltord.
Walking The Plank: Ray Parlour (will not be offered new contract), Pascal Cygan (Lille).
After raising Villa from 16th to sixth in his first season, David O'Leary might have expected the funding to bolster one of the division's smallest squads. Of course, Doug Ellis does not work that way, adhering rigidly to budgets. Further signings will have to come in at a total of under £5m, and even the "free" Patrick Kluivert would shatter the wage structure.
On Board: Martin Laursen (Milan, £3m), Vaclav Drobny (Strasbourg, extended trial).
On The Quayside: Mathieu Berson (Nantes), Patrick Kluivert (Barcelona), Carlton Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United).
Overboard: Dion Dublin (Leicester City, free), Alpay Ozalan (Urawa Reds, free), Moustapha Hadji (Espanyol, free), Peter Crouch (Southampton, £2m), Ronny Johnsen.
Walking The Plank: Rob Edwards (Cardiff City), Marcus Allbäck (PSV Eindhoven).
Ambitious and armed with a £10m-plus war chest, Steve Bruce made arguably his major signing by securing Mikaël Forssell on loan for another season. Other surplus players from Chelsea are set to follow. Yet again he has broken the club's transfer record and must hope Emile Heskey makes a greater impact than Clinton Morrison or David Dunn.
On Board: Emile Heskey (Liverpool, £6.25m), Jamie Price (Cheltenham Town, £100,000), Muzzy Izzet (Leicester City, free), Julian Gray (Crystal Palace, free), Mario Melchiot (Chelsea, free).
On The Quayside: Jesper Gronkjaer, (Chelsea), Henri Camara (Wolves), Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur).
Overboard: Bryan Hughes (Charlton, free), Darren Purse (West Bromwich Albion, £500,000), Tom Williams (Barnsley, free).
Walking The Plank: Aliou Cissé (Bolton Wanderers), Ian Bennett (Leeds United).
Apart from being hopeless at Ewood Park, Blackburn's greatest weakness last season was a naïve defence that in Graeme Souness's words "could not see danger coming".
The signing of the Leeds captain, Dominic Matteo, should bring a bit of nous into the back four. Blackburn could also do with a young, incisive striker as a replacement for the ageing partnership of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. Paul Dickov does not quite fit that bill.
On Board: Paul Dickov (Leicester City, £150,000), Dominic Matteo (Leeds United, free), Javier de Pedro (Real Sociedad, free).
On The Quayside: Morten Gamst Pedersen (Tromso), Radim Kucera (Sigma Olomnic).
Overboard: Nobody yet.
Walking The Plank: Andy Todd (Wigan Athletic), Dwight Yorke (Qatar), Garry Flitcroft (Wigan Athletic).
Sam Allardyce's inventively assembled, over-achieving team requires more support for Kevin Davies. Both Michael Bridges and Les Ferdinand are risky signings since one has not scored in four years because of dreadful injuries, while the other will turn 38 in mid-season. There is, however, rather more money around at the Reebok for wages than at any time in Allardyce's tenure.
On Board: Michael Bridges (Leeds United, free), Les Ferdinand (Leicester City, free), Radhi Jaidi (Espérance de Tunis, free).
On The Quayside: Fernando Hierro (unattached), Jordi Cruyff (Alaves), Henri Camara (Wolves), Aliou Cissé (Birmingham City), Geremi (Chelsea), Brahim Hemdani (Marseille), Nuno Valente (Porto).
Overboard: Javier Moreno (returned loan Atletico Madrid), Per Frandsen (Wigan Athletic), Ibrahim Ba, Steve Howey (both released).
Walking The Plank: Youri Djorkaeff (rejected new contract).
In their centenary season, Charlton find themselves in rude health. Alan Curbishley's transfer budget has been estimated at around £15m, the bulk of which came from the sale of Scott Parker to Chelsea in January.
Dennis Rommedahl from PSV Eindhoven is a big-name signing and if others follow - particularly a top-class striker - Charlton might well be following Millwall into Europe.
On Board: Dennis Rommedahl (PSV Eindhoven, £2m), Stephan Andersen (AB Copenhagen, £721,000), Bryan Hughes (Birmingham City, free).
On The Quayside: Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff City), Thomas Gravesen (Everton), Frédéric Kanouté (Tottenham Hotspur).
Overboard: Stephen Hughes, Sergio Leite (both released), Gary Rowett, Richard Rufus (both retired).
Walking The Plank: Carlton Cole (returning to Chelsea), Paolo Di Canio (anywhere from Lazio to Brentford).
Addressing his squad in training, Jose Mourinho must feel like Imelda Marcos throwing open her wardrobe and wondering what to slip on her feet for a trip to Tesco. Mourinho's biggest task is slimming down and moulding a workable squad. The future of some enormously expensive midfield talent has to be resolved. Even Roman Abramovich does not pay £35m for reserves.
On Board: Paulo Ferreira (Porto, £13.2m), Arjen Robben (PSV Eindhoven, £12m), Petr Cech (Rennes, £8.2m), Mateja Kezman (PSV Eindhoven, £5.4m), Alexei Smertin (back from loan at Portsmouth).
On The Quayside: Didier Drogba (Marseille), Fernando Morientes (Real Madrid), Christian Chivu (Roma).
Overboard: Juan Sebastian Veron (loan to Internazionale), Mikaël Forssell (loan to Birmingham), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Middlesbrough, free), Mario Melchiot (Birmingham, free), Winston Bogarde, Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Petit (all released).
Walking The Plank: Hernan Crespo (Milan), Jesper Gronkjaer (Birmingham), Geremi (Bolton Wanderers).
The trouble with winning the play-off final is that you start recruiting for a new division and a new season later than anybody else. Iain Dowie, who worked a minor miracle to bring Palace into the Premiership, can probably scrape together £4m as a transfer fund and if half of that is invested in Millwall's Tim Cahill to bolster their midfield, it will be cash well spent. Palace, however, require so much more.
On Board: Gabor Kiraly (Hertha Berlin, free).
On The Quayside: Tim Cahill (Millwall), Julian Speroni (Dundee), Jamie Scowcroft (Leicester City), Jay Boothroyd (Perugia), Kevin Campbell (Everton), Kevin Kyle (Sunderland), Mark Hudson (Fulham).
Overboard: Julian Gray (Birmingham City, free), Curtis Fleming, Jamie Smith (both released).
Walking The Plank: Dougie Freedman (Leicester City), Neil Shipperley.
Well Wayne, do you fancy linking up with Marcus Bent or would you prefer Ruud van Nistelrooy? That, bluntly, is the choice facing the most marketable talent in the English game, who has performed better for his country than for Everton. Logic states he must go so that a club £40m in debt and which finished fourth bottom in the Premiership can rebuild. Even without Rooney, the exit door has been in full swing at Goodison, while the arrivals look few.
On Board: Marcus Bent (Ipswich Town, £450,000).
On The Quayside: Mathieu Flamini (Marseille).
Overboard: Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Gothenburg, free), Paul Gerrard (Nottingham Forest, free), Steve Simonsen (Stoke City, free), Alex Nyarko, Scot Gemmill, David Unsworth (all released).
Walking The Plank: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Kevin Campbell (Crystal Palace), Thomas Gravesen (Athletic Bilbao), Tomasz Radzinski (rejected contract), Steve Watson (West Bromwich Albion).
The main work of the summer before the much-anticipated return to Craven Cottage has been tying down manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Steve Kean to new contracts. That might have been achieved but Mohammed Al Fayed has largely abandoned his hobby of lavishing cash on his football club and Coleman will need to strengthen in both midfield and in attack if the successes of last season are to be built upon.
On Board: Billy McKinlay (Leicester City, free).
On The Quayside: Frédéric Kanouté (Tottenham), Gabriel Batistuta (Al Arabi), Gary Speed (Newcastle United), Amdy Faye (Portsmouth).
Overboard: Sean Davis (Tottenham Hotspur, £3m), Jon Harley (Sheffield United, free), Barry Hayles (Sheffield United, free), Abdeslam Ouaddou (Rennes, free), Andrejs Stolcers, Dave Beasant (both released).
Walking The Plank: Mark Hudson (Crystal Palace).
Gérard Houllier spent two years attempting to negotiate Djibril Cissé's move to Anfield and the irony is that Rafael Benitez took over before the deal was concluded. The free-scoring Cissé's speed and presence should make him a formidable partner for Michael Owen but his former coach at Auxerre, the venerable Guy Roux, has warned he needs plenty of good service. The big question for Benitez is will Milan Baros ever again be worth £10m?
On Board: Djibril Cissé (Auxerre £14m).
On The Quayside: Miguel Angel (Malaga), Vicente (Valencia), Roberto Ayala (Valencia).
Overboard: Emile Heskey (Birmingham £6.25m), Bruno Cheyrou (Marseille, loan), Stephen Vaughan (Chester, free), Stephen Gillespie (Bristol City, free).
Walking The Plank: Milan Baros (Real Madrid), Markus Babbel, Djimi Traoré, Dietmar Hamann (Bayern Munich), El Hadji Diouf (Malaga/Portsmouth), Salif Diao (Portsmouth), Neil Mellor (Crewe).
How very unlike Kevin Keegan to be £900,000 in the black during the summer transfer market. However, the sale of teenager Matias Vuoso back to Central America represents a £2.5m loss on the original deal. Manchester City's new financial realities are reflected in the mass clear-out but Keegan will still want to bolster a dangerously fragile defence, hence the need for Danny Mills, Thomas Helveg and Emerson Thome.
On Board: Ben Thatcher (Leicester £100,000), Geert de Vlieger (Willem II, free).
On The Quayside: Danny Mills (Leeds), Thomas Helveg (Milan), Emerson Thome (Bolton.
Overboard: Matias Vuoso (Santos Lugana, £1m), Stephen Elliott (Sunderland), Michael Tarnat (Hanover), Glenn Whelan (Sheffield Wednesday), Daniel van Buyten (loan return to Marseille, now joined Hamburg), Arni Arason, Danny Tiatto, Gerard Wiekens.
Walking The Plank: Christian Negouai, David Sommeil.
The Manchester United chief executive, David Gill, recently called a halt to Sir Alex Ferguson's summer spending, arguing that United needed to concentrate on increasing the capacity of Old Trafford. Then along came Wayne. Realistically, United are the only potential bidders but to land him would require an immense amount of juggling - what to do with the recently signed Alan Smith and Louis Saha being the most obvious problems.
On Board: Alan Smith (Leeds, £7m), Gabriel Heinze (Paris St-Germain, £6.9m), Liam Miller (Celtic, free), Gerard Pique (Barcelona, tribunal), Giuseppe Rossi (Parma, tribunal).
On The Quayside: Wayne Rooney (Everton).
Overboard: Danny Pugh (Leeds, part of swap deal), Ben Williams (Crewe, free).
Walking The Plank: Nicky Butt (Newcastle), Diego Forlan, Michael Stewart (Rangers), Neil Wood (Coventry).
He may not boast the pocket depth of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, but Steve Gibson is still a major player in football's transfer market and this summer he proved it. Spending £4m on Mark Viduka plus finding the cash to fund Michael Reiziger and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's wages represents a substantial investment. Viduka and Hasselbaink may prove to be a combustible front pairing but Middlesbrough look possibly better equipped for the Uefa Cup than Newcastle.
On Board: Mark Viduka (Leeds £4m), Michael Reiziger (Barcelona, free), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea, free).
On The Quayside: Gary Speed (Newcastle), Steve Harper (Newcastle).
Overboard: Michael Ricketts (Leeds, free), David Murphy (Bristol Rovers, free), Allan Johnston.
Walking The Plank: Jonathan Greening (West Bromwich), Massimo Maccarone.
It did not take Jacques Santini long to discover that Tottenham's great weakness lies in midfield, hence the move for Sean Davis from Fulham. They now have three quality strikers, having lost one in Helder Postiga to Porto yesterday. However, supplying them is another matter. Should they tempt Owen Hargreaves away from Bayern Munich they might begin to argue on the Seven Sisters Road that, yes, Spurs are a big club.
On Board: Sean Davis (Fulham, £3m), Paul Robinson (Leeds, £2m), Rodrigo Defendi (Cruzeiro, £600,000), Marton Fulop (MTK Hungaria), Pedro Mendes (Porto, £2m).
On The Quayside: Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Nuno Valente (Porto).
Overboard: Helder Postiga (Porto, £5m) Darren Anderton, Gustavo Poyet, Christian Ziege (Borussia Mönchengladbach, free), Tim Sherwood (Coventry, free), Lars Hirschfeld.
Walking The Plank: Frédéric Kanouté (Charlton or Fulham).
West Bromwich Albion
Albion were criticised for not spending when relegated two seasons ago. There has been no rethink, nor is the kitty any bigger, Gary Megson is bound by the board's refusal to jeopardise the club's solvency. However, a failed enquiry for Mateja Kezman showed theyseek superior striking options.
On Board: Martin Albrechtsen (FC Copenhagen, £2.7m), Darren Purse (Birmingham City, £500,000), Riccardo Scimeca (Leicester City, free).
On The Quayside: Lomana Lua-Lua (Newcastle United), Djimi Traoré (Liverpool), Eirik Bakke (Leeds United), Jonathan Greening (Middlesbrough), Ray Parlour, Nkwankwo Kanu (both Arsenal), Seyi Olofinjana (Brann Bergen), John Carew (Valencia).
Overboard: Delroy Facey (Hull City, free), Phil Gilchrist (Rotherham United, free).
Walking The Plank: Andy Johnson (Leeds United), Mark Kinsella (Swindon Town), Sean Gregan (Cardiff City), Ronnie Wallwork (Stoke City, Rotherham United).
Harry Red-knapp has "never had so much stress", chasing "three or four players to have a chance of staying up". Like last summer, free and modestly priced signings are his priority, with Pompey again active in the overseas market. Ricardo Fuller's £1.75m move is near, while Angelos Basinas could be the first of several Euro 2004 captures.
On Board: Andy Griffin (Newcastle, free), Jamie Ashdown (Reading, undisclosed fee).
On The Quayside: Salif Diao, El Hadji Diouf (both Liverpool), Ricardo Fuller (Preston North End), Angelos Basinas (Panathinaikos), Marek Heinze (Banik Ostrava), Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin), Martin Keown (Arsenal), Marcio Amoruso (Borussia Dortmund), Gianluca Festa (Cagliari), Steve Lomas (West Ham).
Overboard: Carl Robinson (Sunderland, free), Tim Sherwood (Coventry, free).
Walking The Plank: Amdy Faye (Fulham), Yakubu Ayegbini (Middlesbrough), Teddy Sheringham, Mark Burchill, Sebastian Schemmel, Harold Wapenaar.
A quiet close season on the transfer front suggests that Paul Sturrock was relatively satisfied with his inheritance from Gordon Strachan. But decisions may be forced upon him: the striker James Beattie continues to be coveted by Newcastle, but the outstanding goalkeeper, Antti Niemi, has signed a contract extension until 2008. Sturrock is keen to buy a winger but he has a limited budget.
On Board: Peter Crouch (Aston Villa, £2m), Jelle van Damme (Ajax, undisclosed fee), Sean Rudd (Oxford United, nominal fee), Mikael Nilsson (Halmstads, free, from 1 December).
On The Quayside: Dean Ashton (Crewe Alexandra), DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire), Bobby Petta (Celtic), Vladimir Smicer (Liverpool).
Overboard: Mike Williamson (Wycombe Wanderers, season-long loan).
Walking The Plank: James Beattie (Newcastle United).
The great summer tradition on Tyneside - will Patrick Kluivert sign for the Toon? - is in full swing as Newcastle lay the foundations for life after Shearer and Sir Bobby. However, rather than a difficult, high-salaried nightclub-loving centre-forward who had a poor last season, Newcastle badly need a top-class right-back and some luck with injuries. Portugal's Miguel is probably out of their price range, although Tottenham's Stephen Carr has long been touted for a move to the North-east.
On Board: James Milner (Leeds, £5m).
On The Quayside: Nicky Butt (Manchester United), Patrick Kluivert (Barcelona), Stephen Carr (Tottenham), Miguel (Benfica), James Beattie (Southampton)
Overboard: Stephen Caldwell (Sunderland, free), Andy Griffin (Portsmouth, free).
Walking The Plank: Hugo Viana, Gary Speed (Fulham or Middlesbrough), Lomana LuaLua (Portsmouth/West Brom).
Nigel Worth-ington's bold buying last December - three strikers in one swoop - reaped a rich dividend when Norwich won promotion as champions. Few signs of anything so drastic this summer, reflecting the fact that Delia Smith and her fellow directors run a tight ship. Even so, expect more arrivals, including an overhaul of the attack. However, no one else is currently earmarked for the exit door.
On Board: Yousef Safri (Coventry City, £500,000), David Bentley (Arsenal, season-long loan), Paul Gallacher (Dundee United, free).
On The Quayside: Marlon Harewood (West Ham), Kenneth Perez (AZ 67 Alkmaar), Joos Valgaeren (Celtic), Linvoy Primus (Portsmouth).
Overboard: Iwan Roberts (Gillingham, free), Terry Parker, Chris Tardif (both Oxford United, free), Gary Silk (Wycombe Wanderers, free).
Walking The Plank: None.Reuse content