Written by Rob Smyth at The Guardian.com
The world transfer record was broken twice in the summer of 1996. The Brazilian forward Ronaldo went from PSV Eindhoven to Barcelona for around £13.2m but his record did not last long. Twenty years ago on Friday, Newcastle United paid Blackburn Rovers £15m for Alan Shearer. Both theoretically had their best years ahead – Ronaldo was 19, Shearer 25 – and were probably the best strikers in the world at the time. In that year’s Ballon d’Or they finished second and third, behind the Germany sweeper Matthias Sammer.
The Higuaín transfer might mark the day the last sane person was bundled out of the asylum. He is the third most expensive player of all time, behind Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale (£85m) and Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m). He may soon be fourth on the list, if Paul Pogba joins Manchester United or Real for a world-record fee. A 25-year-old Ronaldo or Lionel Messi would probably be worth £200m.
The reaction to the Higuaín move feels instructive. There was a bit of surprise but little disgust at a fee that not so long ago would have been seen as a vulgar indictment of the decadence of society. We have been desensitised to such grotesque transfer fees – and to reports Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, will receive £20m if his client leaves Juventus.
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