Di Maria: the latest proof of Madrid’s transfer mastery


After another ‘riveting’ transfer saga the Red Devils have finally got their Angel.

No doubt Di Maria is a great player; the Argentine was the Man of the Match in last year’s Champions’ League Final and, according to Diego Simeone, Real Madrid’s best player. However, for most the reported fee of £59.7 is baffling. For one thing, it smacks of desperation; that’s obvious enough. After losing 4-0 to MK Dons, it’s clear United need all the quality they can get. But more than that, the sky-high transfer fee exacted on United is a testament to the success of Real’s transfer policy.

Madrid are football’s most luxurious club. They are football’s version of the suave city slicker who only drinks Dom Perignon and eats 100% Wagyu beef. Real have consistently held the record for the most expensive transfer for 14 years and during that time have broken their own record 3 times with the signings of Zidane, Ronaldo and Bale. Their lavish spending begs the question of how they can afford it. The reason they can is that Madrid, alongside Barcelona benefit hugely from the Spanish system. In particular the money from broadcasting rights is split less equally among the clubs in La Liga than in other leagues, with Real and Barca taking around 50% of La Liga’s total television revenue. Because of this 39% of Madrid’s income comes from broadcasting compared to just 32% of Man United’s. Madrid also benefit from tax breaks since they are treated as a not-for-profit organisation. As a result they earn by far the most of any football club. In 2011/12 Madrid had a revenue of €512 million closely followed by Barcelona with €483 million. Man United, the third highest earners, received around €100 million less than their Spanish rivals.

So it’s clear why Madrid can afford to splash hundreds of millions on a few Galacticos. But it’s not just that Real spend but that they are more than willing to overspend on players. Bale is good, but is he really worthy of the title of most expensive in the world? We’ve also all seen that Rodriguez is fantastic and has a way with large insects, but do his 5 games at the World Cup really make him €20million more valuable than he was last year? Madrid’s overspending seems so blatant and purposeful that you can’t help but think there’s reason behind the madness.

In fact there is a reason and the reason seem pretty good. By spending figures like £80 Million on Bale, or £60 Million on Rodriguez, Madrid are constantly inflating the transfer market. The £60 Million that Manchester United spent on Di Maria is far less baffling if compared to the £80 Million that Real spent on Bale. Inflation of the market obviously happens naturally, but no doubt Madrid speed it up as much possible; they are the ones who break the transfer record every time. In doing so they make it harder and harder for its rivals to compete on financial level. The latest outlay of £60 million for Rodriguez is not just the price of one player but the cost of keeping football a financial game where Madrid are top dogs. Last summer Brendan Rodgers rejected Arsenal’s £40 million offer for Suarez, arguing that the fee would have valued Bale at “100% more than Suarez”. The £75 million fee payed for Suarez this year, alongside the £60 million for Di Maria and £50 Million for David Luiz are proof that other clubs are being made to spend more and more to follow Real’s example. The issue is that very few clubs can afford to do so. It’s no wonder then, that la Liga is draining the world’s footballing talent, and as long as Spanish clubs get the broadcasting and tax benefits they currently receive, it will long continue.