Soccer’s English Premier League is many things to many people, in a huge and still-growing number of countries. You can find its replica jerseys everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East and with increasing frequency here in the United States, where the question of whether the world’s favorite game will “make it” long since became irrelevant.
For a significant portion of the post-Millennial generation and the one after it (goodness knows what they’ll be called), waking up to weekend mornings of action from the EPL will be part of the routine, the league’s very English quirks and peculiarities embraced and enjoyed. Tied games and no playoffs is an accepted if not beloved part of the appeal.
Yet there is one part of English soccer’s continued rise that never fails to elicit shock and awe, even as it becomes even more deeply entrenched in the fabric of the game.
Money – namely in the form of the extraordinary transfer fees clubs pay each other for the right to acquire a new player, and in turn pay him a further monstrous amount in wages – has a life of its own in the EPL.
Instruments of economics play here, but they are on steroids. Inflation happens just like in real life, but its magnified by a factor of plenty. Market forces mean the top players are the subject of intense bidding, negotiating and spending, and then some.
The world record figure paid for a player is no longer held by an English club. Paul Pogba’s $125 million move from Juventus to Manchester United was handsomely outstripped just last week with Neymar’s move from Barcelona to France’s Paris St. Germain (PSG) for more than double that figure.
Premier League predictions: Is Manchester City the favorite?
Yet the EPL is still so flushed with cash that it is spilling out of the pockets and littering the sidewalk, and that’s not going to change soon.
Last month Kyle Walker, a solid but unspectacular right back for last season’s second–placed finisher Tottenham, attracted the attention of Manchester City, consistently the biggest and most ambitious spender of the past few years. Like PSG, City is owned by an uber-wealthy group from the Middle East, and makes no bones about flaunting its…