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Southampton's Luke Shaw

The Cost of Great Defenders

Yesterday, England defender Luke Shaw joined Manchester United for £27m on a four year contract.

The £27m price tag sees Luke Shaw become one of the most expensive youngsters in modern football, and at the age of just 18 he promises to fulfill his potential after a strong season at Southampton.

The art of defending appears to be dying out, and the price tag of a great defender is beginning to rise to match the likes of €100m forward Gareth Bale. Player’s prices are increasing exponentially; despite financial fairplay finally being put into place, Barcelona are still rumoured to be interested in signing Luis Suarez from Liverpool for £80m.

World’s Most Expensive Defenders:

#1. David Luiz – From Chelsea to PSG – £40m

#2. Thiago Silva – From AC Milan to PSG – £36m

#3. Rio Ferdinand – From Leeds United to Manchester United – £33.1

#4. Luke Shaw – From Southampton to Manchester United – £27m

#5. Marquinhos – From Roma to PSG – £27m

Included in the list above are some of the world’s greatest defenders, each of which has a unique talent making them worthy of their place on the leaderboard. Despite David Luiz’s risky behaviour as a central defender he is arguably one of the most technically gifted; his passing, dribbling, shooting and freekicks are good enough to see him pushed into a central midfield role at times for Chelsea in the 2013/14 season. Thiago Silva and Rio Ferdinand’s consistency and leadership from the heart of defence is a rare and sought after characteristic, whilst Luke Shaw’s potential after a mature performance all season for Southampton merits a heavy price. Likewise, Marquinhos’ young age and therefore likely potential is worth paying for.

Whilst each of these defenders show qualities that merit a heavy price tag, are the prices still extortionate? In recent years the transfer prices have increased dramatically and is at times highly unnecessary; Chelsea fans will not take kindly to being reminded of the £50m Fernando Torres cost them in 2011. David Luiz has become the world’s most expensive defender, but how much will he cost PSG with his poor decision making and ruthless mentality? Will Luke Shaw develop to his full potential?

Analysing the top 5 most expensive defenders it also stands out that the table is dominated by PSG and Manchester United. In recent years PSG have essentially bought their way to the top of French football – despite a financial fairplay fine of £50m in 2014 they continue to spend big money on their transfers. With the abundance of money in football these days (or so it seems), are clubs just willing to pay whatever ridiculous asking price is given in order to secure a transfer?

Manchester United’s transfers would beg to differ. Whilst Luke Shaw’s £27m fee is still questionable at this moment in time because of his age, Rio Ferdinands £33.1m transfer occurred in 2002, long before players prices increased to the level they are now. At the time Ferdinand was just 23 years old and went on to be one of the greatest Manchester United and England defenders, just a Shaw has the potential to.

Whilst defenders are not regarded as highly as their attack minded colleagues based on transfer prices, it is clear to see that the price of a great defender is rising, and they are without a doubt worth paying for.


About Jamie Hodgskin

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