Home > Football > The day the madness returned to football.

The day the madness returned to football.

When fans of England’s Premier League awoke on Monday morning, one question was on their minds: would Fernando Torres swap the red of Liverpool for the blue of Chelsea before the day was done? By the time they were going to bed, the World Cup-winning striker’s move to the Kings Road club was a mere footnote in what The Guardian dubbed ‘The day the madness returned to football.’

As expected, Torres completed his move to the Premier League champions for a reported British record fee of £50 million and is coincidentally set to make his debut against his former club at Stamford Bridge this coming Sunday (6th February). That the fourth most expensive transfer in football history could be such a secondary detail on transfer deadline day could only mean one thing: something unexpected, something mad, must have happened.

Indeed it did. Despite having already sealed a deal to bring Ajax hitman Luis Suarez to Anfield, Liverpool shocked the world by seeking a replacement for Torres in the form of Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll. The young number 9 has had a highly impressive start to his first season in English football’s top tier, scoring 11 goals and he has been linked with a big money move away from St James’s Park for some time. However, Tottenham Hotspur were thought to be the front runners in the race for Carroll’s signature and so Liverpool’s interest came out of left field somewhat.

When the story of Liverpool’s interest first broke however, the major shock was the reputed size of the offer. People up and down the country exclaimed “£30 million!?” in disbelief. This offer was rejected and so the Reds came back with an improved offer. Details of this second offer are sketchy, but it was again rejected. Finally in the mid afternoon, the clubs confirmed that a fee had been agreed, a fee (reportedly) in the region of £35 million in up-front cash plus add ons. No you did not read that wrong. £35 million in up-front cash plus add ons.

Carroll was rushed to Liverpool’s Melwood training ground where he passed a medical and signed on the dotted line. In the space of a few short hours, Andy Carroll had gone from local-boy-done-good to the eighth most expensive player of all time. Carroll insists that he was forced out, whilst Newcastle claim he handed in a transfer request once he learned of Liverpool’s interest. Whatever the case, Liverpool had their man.

Andy Carroll passed his medical and became the eighth most expensive player of all-time. (This image is the property of The Guardian)

It is a huge gamble on the part of Dalglish and new owner John W Henry. They received a fair price for Torres, but have spent the vast majority of it immediately on a replacement. Looking at Liverpool’s squad, they may have been better served acquiring three or four players at £10-15 million each, time will tell.

From Newcastle’s point of view, this represents great business. They have received a fee well in excess of what they would have realistically expected by playing on Liverpool’s desperation to replace Torres before the transfer window slammed shut. Knowing how much Liverpool had banked for Torres no doubt aided their negotiating position. Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley are certainly gambling on a mediocre strike force to keep Newcastle in the Premier League, but if they are able to maintain their place at English football’s top table, and then Ashley allows Pardew to reinvest the Carroll funds in the squad in the close season, the sale of their biggest asset will have been a positive for the club as a whole.

It seems that everybody from the man in the pub, to Rio Ferdinand on Twitter, to Alan Pardew has had their say on the fee, and the overwhelming view is that Liverpool have grossly overpaid for a promising, but ultimately still relatively unproven striker. Granted, there has long been an unofficial premium payable for young, English players but that Andy Carroll should cost more than David Villa seems simply absurd.

There is however an old adage in the business world: something is worth what someone will pay you for it. Liverpool paid £35 million. Guess Carroll is therefore worth £35 million.

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Categories: Football
  1. Chris Hollindale
    February 3, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Here’s a hugely recommended piece for some financial analysis of the Carroll/Torres deals: http://betoftheweek.net/2011/02/85-million-questions/

    One thing that confuses me is the timing of it – why not wait until the summer to bolster the squad, as your money goes much further then? After all, it’s not as though Liverpool have a massive amount to play for this season. And he’s currently injured for 3 weeks plus anyway. Weird.

  1. February 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

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