This summer has seen some frankly obscene money changing hands already, which is incredible when you think just what has happened to the big spenders over the last twelve months or so. Sure, Real Madrid may have won the Champions League for the tenth time, but having broken the world transfer record last summer it is still odd to see them spending like it’s going out of fashion again, while Barcelona are technically supposed to be under a transfer ban. Like the punishment handed down to their new star signing that sanction has turned out to be something of an empty gesture to date, and the Catalans have once again been able to drop massive wads of cash and further crush their reputation as a club that builds from within.
As a result of ‘Hammers’ Rodriguez moving to Madrid it looks like Angel Di Maria will be sold to make space in the squad, and there are a number of clubs interested in making what will probably need to be a £50m bid for the Argentine, but he is actually one of the most overrated players in the European game right now and indicative of a worrying trend. If you watched Di Maria play only through highlight packages that fee may seem appropriate, but when seen live the weaknesses of the winger are far more evident, including a profligacy with the ball and a total lack of interest in tracking back and helping his defence, and for a technical and tactical manager like Carlo Ancelotti that lack of discipline must be maddening at times.
If one of the big Premier League clubs does make him their marquee signing it seems likely they’ll be let down in the longer term in the same sort of way Arsenal have been to this point by Mesut Ozil, and it’s certainly not unfair to say the English top division demands diligence both on and off the pitch than the Spanish Liga BBVA. Di Maria’s talent with the ball at his feet is considerable, but his price tag also says a lot about the way clubs decide on players these days and how scouting is sometimes less important than the ego of the transfer committee (see Fabregas to Barca, Fellaini to Man Utd etc) and the need to sell shirts. If the man himself turns up and proves us wrong that will only be a good thing as the league deals with yet another summer talent drain, but he’s far from a guaranteed success.