The transfer window is upon us again, and all the big teams are spending gazillions of £s on various marquee signings. Is there a curse that makes big money players play under par?
The supposed big fee curse is when a player who is purchased for a hefty fee – take the £50,000,000 Chelsea paid for Fernando Torres – and performs seriously below their price states they should, rather like Torres did in his uninspiring spell at Stamford Bridge. But does the big price sum have anything to do with how the player performs?
There are many examples of a big sum paid for a subsequently awful player, including Torres, Andy Carroll to Liverpool, Angel Di Maria to Manchester United and perhaps Gareth Bale hasn’t quite proved himself yet worthy of the near £90 million Real Madrid paid Spurs for him. All of these players were bought after ‘proving themselves’ to be top quality players, only to collapse after a big money deal is done. This can’t be coincidence!
And some of the Premier League’s star players have come in for very low fees – Luis Suarez cost Liverpool just under £23 million, low when you consider just how good he is – and these players have shone.
I guess when you are the subject of a big bid there are masses of pressure on you to succeed, and the media’s idea of the big fee curse is directed towards you in interviews, and it surely would plague on your mind. However, in the most part players deal with the media very well anyway and never listen to rumours circulating in the press, so why isn’t this the case with the marquee signings?
Despite all the pressure on them to succeed, which points towards a curse that means that hand in hand with the big fee comes media and employers pressuring you to succeed and prove wrong the press, making you worth the money, when big fees are spent on players they are usually nearing the end of their prime. This is because they have ‘proved themselves’ by performing at their best for a good few seasons to command this fee, so soon they will be past the age that they play their best at. Consequently, they naturally fade and it’s nothing to do with the media pressure on them. This point can be backed up by the fact that players like Suarez and Hazard, bought for comparatively cheap sums, are still not yet at their best, and they go on to reach their prime and their new clubs. Then again, as football progresses more and more younger players like Raheem Sterling are costing massive fees because of potential, and they haven’t yet been proven at the top level. Therefore players like this are a great example to follow to see if they reach their ‘potential’ despite the hefty price tag paid for them.
Another factor comes into play. Many top teams have loads and loads of cash injected by the owners, so can buy plenty of expensive players, like Real Madrid with Ronaldo, Bale, James Rodriguez, Modric etc. The fact that they buy more players for big fees takes the pressure slightly off individuals to reach their price tag, suggesting the idea is media myth.
The big squads of modern day football clubs mean that when players, even quality players, have a poor patch of form they get dropped, so don’t have a chance to prove themselves, rather like Balotelli this year at LFC. This means maybe they aren’t victims of the curse, just victims of the manager’s harsh team selections.
However, the pressure from outside the football clubs and in is a major factor of whether a player succeeds at a football club, and if they cost a load of money then the player will obviously be subjected to lots of pressure and will be criticised for every tiny mistake they make.
I’d hate to be a professional footballer! Tainted if you’re bad, pressurised if you’re good, mocked for every mistake and it’s a viscous cycle of having a great season, getting signed for loads of money, being pressurised so much that you can’t concentrate on football, get sold and lose media interest, then you have another good season!
All this shows that surely the big fee curse exists, though it isn’t the only factor that decides whether a player will succeed at his new club.