Defenders’ Transfer Values Skyrocket (at last)
Liverpool has finally got its man. Virgil Van Dijk, the 6ft 4 defender, has put pen to paper on a deal worth £75 million.
While Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp might have urged Liverpool fans to “forget the price tag”, it might be easier said than done. Here’s what others in the game had to say about it:
Does Pep have a point? 💸 pic.twitter.com/rkAL7I75fA
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 29, 2017
The game has changed forever… and it's only going to keep going!
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) December 30, 2017
Why are defenders now worth so much? Of course, the ever inflated prices are one simple reason. As per the excellent TransferMarkt website, a record £1.6 billion was spent in the English Premier League (PL) alone. While other leagues have yet to catch up the PL’s level, massive purchases have been made and it only makes sense for this to filter through to defenders too.
Is The Art Of Defending Dead?
However, a variety of current and ex-pros have lamented the “death of the art of defending.” This includes:
- Rio Ferdinand: “People aren’t coached to defend as much any more”
- Gary Neville: “Players now are starting out with a high technical grounding and learn the defending later”
Most striking comments of all came from Giorgio Chiellini:
“I believe the advent of Guardiola’s style of football has changed the nature of something we in Italy did so well for many years, which is the art of defending.”
“There is a remarkable generational gap in defenders and that’s what caused it. Now lads who arrived in Serie A know how to spread the play and pass the ball, they can make a pin-point pass 40 metres away, but they haven’t the slightest idea how to man-mark or take players on on-on-one.”
My own argument as to why defenders have seen their value shoot up amongst clubs would be that where previously we saw great collectives of defenders, this is becoming rarer.
Really, the last of such a collective we’ve seen was Giorgio Chiellini, Leanardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli (and of course Gianluigi Buffon). It would appear football is far more open these days too. When looking at the statistics, last season saw 1,064 goals being scored in the PL, which is two goals shy of the all time record from 2011/12, pointing to a very open league.