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Off-the-radar: Paco Alcácer and the death of modern football


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Big clubs will spend big money. Ridiculous money. The transfer market is more of a way to make statements, and undoubtedly fans of these clubs love this time of year more than any other time.

Over analysis of the transfer fee spent, whether the player will succeed, dominates headlines. The player says it's a dream, the club says the player will be a fantastic addition, a superb reinforcement to the squad. Every signing is the same.

Except it isn't. It never is.

This transfer window, astronomical sums have been spent without anyone batting an eyelid. Apparently, it's normal to spend 90 million euros on a 29 year old striker. Believably unbelievable, hardly understandable, almost unfathomable sums of money - would you pay that much to see a player play football?

But that's a debate for another day. What isn't a debate, is that sports clubs - oh sorry, public limited companies, according to Spanish law - are businesses and players are business deals. What isn’t a debate is that big clubs get richer as smaller clubs get poorer. What isn’t a debate is that smaller clubs need help - money - that will come if more people support and want to see the club play - which also takes money. And with no one willing to start the vicious cycle of "spend money to make money", these clubs will embrace a major cash injection.

Enter Peter Lim.

Valencia isn’t a small club by any means - but it’s debt was big enough. Valencia certainly doesn’t have a small support group - but its international appeal wasn’t huge enough. And Valencia certainly wasn’t in need of major cash, but after selling many of their stars fans wanted to see success again. They were desperate enough.

And that, is why everything is wrong with football today. Football actually meant something once - it had a sociopolitical meaning. It wasn’t about success or failure, but about a means of expression. Most fans don’t really care about that anymore - it’s all about trophies and analysis and armchair management now. And the fans who do? They’re being prosecuted, by the government, by police and by their own clubs.

Football is an entertainment product, but it’s not just that. The risk isn’t that the entertainment will end, but that it won’t represent those that the club was meant to represent.

But what is the point I’m making? The title talks about Paco Alcácer, so what about him?

The point is, I didn’t want him to join Barcelona. It’s the most foolish statement to make. But this transfer meant much more than just a player moving from a smaller company to a bigger one.

This was the final nail in the coffin. A player who was both a valencianista and valencianismo, moved to Barcelona because a club that could’ve done without foreign support, took it anyway and overspent, then backtracked and sold the player who most represents the club.

Valencia fans were no doubt angry. But you know what’s the worst part?

For both clubs, it’s just a bloody business deal. Nothing more.

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