How much does a player really cost?
Transfer windows are always an exciting and nervous time for a football club. Mostly as a Benfica supporter we are more of the latter. Year after year we see our talent plucked away by the pockets of richer clubs. Luis Felipe Vieira has promised us that within the next few years we will have several starters that have been “made in the Seixal”. Those are quite encouraging words as we all want to see players on the pitch that we can relate to ourselves – Portuguese.
However in more recent times we’ve seen a rather large influx of “lottery tickets” as I refer to them being brought in. Funes Moris, Melgarejos, Bruno Cortezs have been followed up by Lazar Markovic & Anderson Talisca and the likes. Players purchased to only be sold on a season or so afterwards. Sometimes they are stellar, contributing members to the side and other times they are perpetual loanees, like Sidnei, only to be a source of revenue.
So we now address the initial question “What is the real cost of an academy player versus purchasing a ticket?”
We look at academy players as a “free” commodity as no real transfer fee is involved in acquiring that player or for bringing them through our system(in most cases). There is so much more to it than that. Coaching, equipment, grounds maintenance, operations, kits, feeding players and staff are just a few of the things that are costs into running a youth academy. At some point that player might be good enough to play for a U17, then U18 and progress to a B team in the second division. Then if you are the cream of the crop, have talent, and have some real potential you’ll be loaned out. Meaning at some point in your youth career, you’re no longer paying to go to learn an academy, but you’re getting paid for your services.
Over a player’s paid youth career a team could invest in upward €100,000 without that player ever making a debut with the main team. A play could be in a constant loan life phase, year after year being loaned out to smaller clubs, they still get their salary paid sometimes shared by the loaner & parent club or at times completely paid by the loaner club, and then additional fees are paid by the loaner. Teams often have to offer housing, transportation and meals to these players. No longer are they a person but they are seen as a sell-able commodity on an open market.
Hany Muktar arrived for €500,000 from Herth Berlin. A rather nominal fee when it comes to transfers now-a-days. We’ve seen our academy likes with the most recent example, Andre Gomes, leave for €15M. How many kids have gone through our academy, that have never made it as a professional? We constantly discuss the purchasing of imported lottery tickets but we close our eyes to the domestic lottery tickets that come through our youth academy ranks every day.
Is the purchase a of a player worth it? I feel, if there is an opportunity to sell that player at a later date for a significant amount of money so that we can keep operations open and continue to produce domestic talent, then by all means do so.
At some point, we need to give our youth academy players a chance to succeed. We need a good balance of homegrown players and foreign talent because, let’s face it. With the small nation we have, odds are that we won’t have another Ronaldo in our academy right now. Buying foreigners gives us a stop gap until that player arrives. And as a club supporter that’s what I want, to succeed with domestic talent.
Follow Nelson on Twitter – @NelsonL08