Is He Worth It?

Jean Marc Bosman started it all

Joe Cole signed a four-year contract with Liverpool today. It’s been rumored that he will be making about 90k pounds per week. The transfer, however, was free. He’s 28 years old and in the last 18 months has been injury-prone. Often thought of as the most creative English midfielder in the past 8 years, his stock has dropped considerably since the ’06 World Cup in Germany. So the question is, “Is he worth it?” and what makes a player worth “it” these days?

In the US, free agency in baseball, basketball, football, etc. (the soccer equivalent is called a Bosman), is the main form of players moving from club to club. Often they do trades, but the majority of the time the club from which the player leaves does not get reimbursed.

In the soccer world, free agency is much rarer. A player is either signed to an extension, offered a new contract, or sold to another club within 18 months to a year remaining on their contract.

When a player is sold, for say 20 million pounds, the club receives that money. The player (actually his agent) then negotiates his own personal wages. This information is public, but rarely the focal point of the news surrounding the transfer.

Will Joe Cole and other potential signings keep this Nando in red?

So is Joe Cole worth it?
In this case yes, very much so. This is a very similar situation to United signing Michael Owen last year. The big difference is Liverpool expect a lot more out of Cole then Ferguson did from Owen.

Cole is going on the downside of his career, but his skill cannot be denied. A rising star with West Ham, he transferred to Chelsea as they began their recent dominance in the league. He was one of the stars that brought the first of three recent titles to the London club. He also cemented himself into the England side providing a creative spark that had been missing since Gascoigne left.

Assuming Torres stays (a big if), Cole will slot in on the left side of midfield, but look for him to switch in and out of the middle with Aquilani if they go with a 4-5-1. If Liverpool play a 4-2-3-1, Kuyt and Gerrard will be the rest of the attacking midfield, and Lucus and Aquilani will slot in behind (assuming Mascherano leaves).

This gives Liverpool a lot of attacking options but not much defensive verve. They also seem to have an abundance of quick and skillful – but fragile – attacking options in Cole, Aquilani and Rodriguez.

Trying everything to keep Torres and Gerrard

Liverpool will also get a proven premiership attacking midfielder for free with Milan Jovanovic, (the Serbian winger who scored against Germany also came on as a free transfer). His signing also shows Gerrard and Torres that Liverpool mean business and really want to compete. Sales from Benayoun and Insua, and more than likely Mascherano and Riera, will bring about quite a bit of money to go after a big signing.

With these two signings Hodgson is rebuilding the squad with known commodities. He’s not building the team for the future…yet. He needs to win over Gerrard and Torres first, and by getting Cole he’s a step closer without using any of his transfer money.

So Cole will get to play regular football and get a chance to prove himself. He did very well at Chelsea, but spats with management and injuries stopped him from being the golden boy everyone assumed he would be. At Liverpool, he has a chance to rejuvenate his career and what better manager to help him do so than Hodgson.

—————————-

So what is good business for a club? What makes a player worth it?
Buying an outfield player, especially an attacking one who is 28 or older, is a risky move. Regardless of their pedigree and past exploits, they’re not likely going to be able to maintain the form they exhibited in the past for the remainder of their new contract.

Rennes are asking upward of 20 million Pounds for their star forward

Jovanovic and Cole are still very good players, but have a lot of miles on their bodies and represent a short term fix to a problem. Liverpool need to get back in the top four and they might be able to help.

World Cup years always make for interesting off seasons. Many clubs make the mistake of signing someone who was relatively unknown, but who had a good tournament. Take Diego Forlan as an example: not that he is unknown, as he has been very successful with Villareal and Atlectico Madrid, but if some team splashed a large amount of cash on him that would represent bad business. He’s 31 and probably doesn’t have that much left in the tank.

Michael Bradley, Gyan, Coentrao, etc. all had great World Cups and their stock rose considerably. A lot of teams will be vying to sign them and they will more than likely cost more than if this was a regular summer off season. That said, they are all 24 or younger and have not only proven themselves in the past few years with club and country, but have very bright futures. It will be worth it to pay extra to have them on your team for the prime of their careers.

Not the player Villareal thought they were getting, but he is "still young"

Andre Ayew and Anthony Annan also had good World Cups and could potentially make big money transfers this summer. Both are young and haven’t really played a lot of top level football, making them much more raw. They could go either way. Their stock is in their potential. Typically these players are worth it, but obviously it depends on how much a club pays for them.

Buying a player based on potential is always tough. Often a player comes with a buzz and it’s amazing to me that clubs don’t do enough research on up-and-coming players. Sadly, Jozy Altidore is coming close to being labeled a bust.

This doesn’t mean he’s a bad player, but Villareal paid close to 10 million dollars for him and he hasn’t done anything to justify that sum of money. He’s been loaned out in hopes of getting more experience, improving his skill set, etc. He’s obviously a much better player for the USMNT than for club and that’s where the frustration lies for Villareal.

He’s still only 20 but at some point one can’t keep saying, “he’s still young and has potential.” Clint Dempsey, though at 27, represents fantastic business by Fulham. They got him for 4 million dollars after the ‘06 World Cup and he has had a very successful career with them. He too is in the market and it will be interesting to see what happens.

Excellent business for Fulham, but will be playing elsewhere when the season starts?

What it comes down to is: it’s all about business. Are you getting what you paid for? Are you getting a steal? Or are you paying too much? In the case of Joe Cole, he was free (not talking about wages). Can’t really go to wrong with that.

Same goes for Theirry Henry. Henry more so in that he will bring tons of revenue to the Red Bulls so he represents excellent business.

The “silly season”, as it is often been dubbed, has just started. One will hear many crazy rumors, and no doubt a lot of players and money will exchange hands. Just wonder after all has been said and done: is that player worth it?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. the title sounds like one of those retarded yahoo relationships articles. that i read. unlike those articles, this is quite interesting. nice work sir.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Colin on 2010/07/20 at 6:24 AM

    Just out of curiosity, what would Joe Cole’s wages be if he wasnt either employed by Chelsea or wasnt just signed on a free? What premium on his wages is he getting because there was no transfer fee?

    If he signed for 3 years (i have no idea how many he actually signed for) and is getting 40k extra than hes worth because he got signed on a free…basically it would be like if liverpool were paying 2mil / year in transfer fee for a total of 6mil. Not bad, because if he isnt up to the task, the could still probly sell him after 2 years for 4mil and cancel out any premium on his wages that they had paid.

    I feel like we are going to see a lot more free transfers since the transfer fees have gone beyond the ridiculous.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/07/20 at 8:22 AM

      Cole was always going to go to a team with pedigree and one that could afford his wage demands. Apparently, contract talks between Cole and Chelsea broke down as he wanted GBP100K+ pw, and I also feel that that was also a hurdle for Spurs and Arsenal. Yes, there was no transfer fee, but it potentially causes player unrest when one player earns much more than another (I am not talking about somebody like Rooney’s earnings vs Neville’s). We all know that Arsenal have a very strict wage structure.

      I do think it was good business for Liverpool because attracting players of Cole’s calibre without CL football will be challenging. He is proven in the Prem and should be able to settle very quickly. Also, as Shaun said, Hodgson isn’t building a team for the future, he needs complete players now, not ones for the future. Hodgson has a 3 year contract and if he ever wants to get that renewed, he needs to deliver now. In that regard, it is very similar to Mourinho’s MO.

      The problem for Altidore is that he got a lot of playing time, but played for a weak team in Hull City, didn’t score too many goals, they got relegated and he harshly got a lot of negative press. Yes, he didn’t have the best season, but you have to question Hull’s management for making that decision – how many teams rely that heavily on a 20 years old to score the goals for them? The ones that do, usually have an exceptional talent on their hands, and whilst Altidore is good, he’s not exceptional (yet).

      Reply

      • Cole has a 90,000 pound p/w contract with Liverpool right now, 4 years in length. He was asking Chelsea for 120,000 p/w because they could not guarantee him a starting spot. Basically, Cole played the, “If you want to keep me and not use me, you are going to pay me tons of money to warrant me sitting on the bench” move to try and force Chelsea into playing him, if they kept him. In truth, smart move by him.

        I’m a Chelsea fan, and am ecstatic that Chelsea didn’t sign him to some obscene contract. I love Joey, but with the amount of injuries he has had, particularly shredding his knee just over a year ago, has left him a shade of the player he once was. Not to say he is not a quality footballer, he just isn’t someone I would pay over 80k a week to.

        For Liverpool it is a great pick up, but in truth it will cost them almost exactly as much to have Joey for 4 years as it cost Chelsea to get Benayoun for 3, with the transfer fee included. The advantage with Benayoun is he isn’t constantly injured, even if he is 2 years Cole’s senior, and has consistently scored more goals than Cole.

        Was it bad business? No, but I think people are selling Chelsea short on their side of the deal.

        Reply

        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/07/20 at 1:02 PM

          I agree. It was a win win for both teams. I think the reason people say Liverpool got the best deal is based on the potential and hope that Cole will rediscover his form from 2 years ago.

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/07/20 at 1:46 PM

        The reason why I said that Liverpool got a good deal is because Cole turned down two clubs who offered Champions’ League football for more money. Fair enough that he wants to ‘secure’ his financial future (as if he hasn’t done so already), but I wish players would just say so. *If* Spurs or Arsenal offered him the exact same contract, IMO, there is no way he would be leaving London for Merseyside.

        Looking at the strength of Chelsea, United, City, Arsenal and Spurs, I would be very surprised if Liverpool can offer him CL during the course of his contract.

        Reply

        • Liverpool offered him playing time immediately, I don’t see Joey walking into Arsenal or Tottenham and grabbing a starting spot at either place. Liverpool were willing to pay a tiny bit more p/w and offer him consistent playing time.

          Reply

  3. Posted by robbie on 2010/07/20 at 6:40 AM

    Cool post. I’m glad it wasn’t just about Cole and you worked some USMNT players in there. A few thoughts:

    - It’s interesting to see how old some of these players look at 27, 28 and then watch Donovan’s progression. Maybe some of the Euros are just beat down as kids? Maybe LD is as good at taking care of his body as we would like to think? I don’t know the reason but it is obvious to me.

    - I don’t you think you can call Jozy a “bust” yet. Was his contract and fees a bust for Villareal? Yes. But I can promise you that if a team were to buy him from Villa today they would look back three years from now and think it was a steal. I think that was the point you’re trying to make though.

    - I had a ton of fun watching Forlan play this summer. I hope some team does overspend for him so I can see him on TV more often.

    - I miss the World Cup already :/.

    Reply

  4. I love this move by Hodgson and LFC. It’s already sold Gerrard and hopefully it gets Torres to spurn Chelsea. Anyone think there is any chance that Roy takes a look at Sweatpants Jr. if Mascherano is sold as a DM option?

    Reply

    • BTW, I mean that he’s “sold” Gerrrard on his vision…not sold him literally. (Thank the Spirit of Shankly.)

      Reply

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