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Jun 5, 2009

Transfer trauma good for the game?

A few short months ago we laughed when Manchester City's owners began to target the world's best players. Now that Real Madrid, with galacticos chairman Florentino Perez back in charge, are doing the same, it has become deadly serious.

The constant barrage of transfer stories about the top players in the game is now bordering on crazy and, unlike last January, cannot be dismissed as nonsense because of the power and prestige of the club involved.

Real Madrid have made a history of bringing big-names into their side. Perez is, after all, the man who, in four consecutive summers starting from 2000, took Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham to the Spanish capital for a combined fee of about £132m.

Now, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, David Villa, Franck Ribery, Samuel Eto'o, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Tevez are all being touted as Madrid's next big signing, but unlike previous years, the Bernabeu outfit are keen to bring in as many names as possible before the start of the new season.

Yet the fees involved are ludicrous. £60m for Kaka, £80m for Ronaldo, maybe £40m for Ribery? Yes, they are the cream of the crop, but we've reached a situation where Madrid are even splashing more than Liverpool paid for Fernando Torres, to NOT sign Ronaldo from United.

Certain factors have played their part in the transfer frenzy. Manchester City's £108m bid for Kaka back in January can certainly be seen to have set the marker down for clubs' ambitions and the influx of cash-rich owners from the Middle East have definitely sparked a realisation that every player has his price.

The ridiculous buy-out clauses set by European clubs now do not come into play and, in order to keep a player, clubs have to rely on loyalty, trust and morals. Dangerous territory in this current climate.

Furthermore, while some clubs benefit from rich ownership, others will take advantage of the global economic crisis. AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani has said that the reasons for Kaka's potential move are ''solely economic'', while Valencia's financial ruin means stars David Villa and midfielder David Silva will likely be sold to the highest bidder.

There will always be those - Zlatan Ibrahimovic a prime example - who may move on for personal reasons; but the overriding feeling for this summer is that the top players are being forced into moving for the financial gain of their clubs.

As yet, though, all we have are rumours and conjecture and no huge moves have been agreed, or finalised. The rumour mill is running into overdrive already this season and it is a worrying sign of what may be to come in the next few years.

Money talks, but while Madrid's world transfer record of Zidane for £45.6m might be smashed this summer, it could have even greater implications for the game as a whole if they break it more than once.

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