The transfer window that just ended was a glimpse into the future of football. The English Premier League has left the other leagues far behind. Fans all over the world are rooting for Deadline Day. The new advisor to Erling Haaland is also building on this largely virtual world.
Even super club owner Todd Boehly can't keep up. The man from Chelsea, tenth in the English Premier League, had taken football to a new level with his investments in the transfer period that had just ended. With the €121m move of world champion Enzo Fernández from Benfica to Stamford Bridge, spending in January 2023 alone totaled €329.5m, more than all top league clubs in Germany, Spain, France and Italy have spent together. There will also be another 282 million in the summer of 2022. That makes a total of over 600 million euros or not even a whole Erling Haaland.
Because its market value, calculated by Rafaela Pimenta, the advisor to the former Dortmunder in the Spanish "AS", is at least one billion euros, i.e. 1,000,000,000 euros. So bad news for Todd Boehly, who probably won't be in the raffle anyway, should Haaland ever leave Manchester City and go in search of new adventures. "I would put Haaland's market value at 1000 million euros. Maybe nobody will ever pay that, but he brings it with him when he signs with a club," said Pimenta, who took over the bustling consultant's business after Mino Raiola's death last year continues. "He brings fans, goals, results, professionalism, digital content, popularity and sponsors. All of that adds up to his value."
But Pimenta also knows that no club in the world will call up this price in the near future. "The clubs set the prices for the players and of course no one will pay €700m for a player," she said, without explaining where the €700m suddenly came from. "But once again: The value that Haaland brings to a club is immense, at least 1000 million euros." A sum that seems insane given Neymar's record transfer, which has been going on for several years now. The Brazilian joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for a fee of €222m.
No player came close to that total afterwards. With Kylian Mbappé, who moved from Monaco to the French capital for 180 million euros the following year, and ex-Dortmunder Ousmane Dembélé, who led Barça to the brink of ruin with his transfer fee totaling 140 million euros, two other players follow outside the English Premier League on the pitches.
After the shocks caused by the corona pandemic, football is currently focusing heavily on the financial strength of the English teams. The clubs, which are mostly run by private investors or very close to the state funds, are throwing the money around in such a way that the other leagues are reacting with a mixture of outrage and resignation. As was to be expected, the reaction from Spain was particularly piqued. There they have been struggling for years with the loss of importance of their own league triggered by the financial power of the English Premier League.
"What is it? What is the problem? Basically, the clubs are doped. They are given money [by the investors] that they did not generate themselves," said Javier Gomez, the general manager of the Spanish league, referring to his own strict regulations. These are intended to prevent clubs from investing more than they can earn. Restrictions that do not exist in this form in the Premier League.
England is the land of milk and honey for football professionals and the goal of every player, Pimenta then explained. "When I started, it was like this: If I wanted to enable a player to move to the Premier League, he asked me what he had done wrong. He wanted to go to Italy or Spain," said the former Raiola confidante : "Today the players only say that they want to play in the Premier League. They don't care about the club."
But because not all players can end up in the Premier League and certainly not everyone can always travel to England, Pimenta has a wonderful idea. The fans, not the players, should still want to feel the game, Pimenta hopes for the next technological development step in football, she hopes for the Metaverse, the 3D world in your own smart home. She refers to a concert by rapper Travis Scott at the beginning of the pandemic. At the time, Scott appeared in front of 12.3 million users in the video game Fortnite. A PR move at the beginning of the lockdowns in April 2020 and an outlook on what should also help football to become even more popular. "No stadium in the world can accommodate those 12 million," said Pimenta. "I hope that clubs can monetize these experiences. So that a Colombian can enjoy the Bernabéu without leaving home. For me, this is fantastic. This is the future. It has been proven that the physical emotions of heartbeat, blood flow and Body heat that triggers the virtual experience are the same as those that trigger the real experience."
And when the time has come, technology has advanced, the footballers are increasingly immersed in a reality simulation and the spectators log into the stadiums in their living room, then the Haaland may really cost 1,000,000,000 euros at that time. And the Todd Boehly of this era will continue to throw his money at the entertainment machine of football. Because he doesn't do anything else anyway. Boehly and his Chelsea have long served the emotions mentioned by Pimenta. Every transfer quenches the thirst for emotions, triggers something in the club's supporters that goes far beyond the actual result. A transfer and its media staging can be followed from anywhere in the world. But that cannot yet be said of a visit to the stadium. It's tied to one place.
Until this immediacy of the transfer world finds its way into the stadium, the Spaniards will grumble about doping and the Bundesliga will argue about the question of relaxing the 50-1 rule. In the world Pimenta sketched, none of that would matter at all. The income with the right technical infrastructure is limitless. At least for the clubs that can reach people all over the world and convince them to buy their product with their emotions. Brave new world.