For a time, West Ham were rumoured to be favourites to land Liverpool misfit Christian Benteke. There was talk of a potential bid in the low £20M range and wages nearing £100k per week, both big numbers for West Ham to be sure but less than Liverpool had paid for or were paying Benteke.
Then, Crystal Palace came along throwing around some of that new Premier League television deal money. An offer in excess of £30M, though not officially accepted, meant that Liverpool gave the player permission to negotiate with Palace. And there were whispers the London club would match his £130k per week wage.
According to West Ham chairman David Sullivan, whose club rather seems to have been beaten to Benteke, this is all a touch ridiculous. The transfer fees; the wages; the kickbacks to the agents. It’s all getting out of hand. And, for fans put off by this summer’s transfer inflation, at least it looks like they aren’t alone in that.
"If you think about it, the £80million-£85million for the Gareth Bales and Ronaldos, it’s a bit historical now," said Sullivan. "There’s a lot more money around now, so you have got to assume that those fees are going to be smashed. Every year we say the transfer window has gone crazy but it really has gone barmy this year.
"Particularly if you are looking for strikers. There are 20 or 30 clubs in Europe, all with money, looking for a striker. And when you have a club like Crystal Palace will to pay £125-130k a week to a guy at Liverpool, you do think it has gone barmy. Add in the demands of agents and players, this year has just gone crazy."
Sullivan might be happy to learn, then, that the Benteke to Palace deal seems on hold at the moment, with the player’s agent claiming he’s happy to stay and fight for his place at Anfield. Or course, most think it’s just a ploy—to get a larger pay packet for his client or a larger signing-on bonus or a bigger fee for himself.
And in that case, perhaps when it all gets sorted, as most seem to think it will, it will just be more proof that it’s all gone a bit barmy. West Ham fans, though, will likely be hoping their chairman can wrap his head ‘round the new financial reality in short order lest their club get left behind by the Crystal Palaces of the world.