In June 2007, Thierry Henry, most likely the best player ever to have graced the Premier League was sold by Arsenal to Barcelona. The fee for the three-time FWA Footballer of the Year and four-time Premier League top goalscorer, then at the peak of his career aged 29, was 24 million euros, £16 million at the exchange rate of the time.
Since then, English teams have bought and sold countless players for an equal or greater amount of money, with the following all recent examples:
Luis Antonio Valencia - £16 million
Jose Bosingwa - £16.2 million
Darren Bent - £16.5 million
Luka Modric - £16.5 million
Roque Santa Cruz - £17.5 million
Nigel De Jong - £18 million
Robbie Keane - £19 million
Alberto Aquilani - £20 million
Lassana Diarra - £20 million
Emmanuel Adebayor - £25 million
Carlos Tevez - £25 million
Xavi Alonso - £30 million
Dimitar Berbatov - £30.75 million
Robinho - £32.5 million
There's no question that these are all excellent players, but for my money, not one of them has even come close to rivalling the contribution to his side, the league and football as a whole made by Henry, yet in several cases, they're valued at more than double what he was. This clearly illustrates that something is rotten on the financial side of modern football. It's not surprising that Manchester City, a club that many people criticise for contributing most heavily to football's multi-billion pound foreign revolution are well represented in the list.
The conclusion here is a trite and obvious one. Football, like it or not, is becoming a very rich man's game, transfer fees are being pushed dangerously high and the long-term sustainability of the game and its clubs in these times of excessive spending is in doubt. The list still makes for interesting reading though. Henry has scored 31 goals in 59 league matches for Barcelona. Robbie Keane, worth £3 million more than him scored five in nineteen for Liverpool before being sold back to Tottenham for a slashed fee. Barca must be delighted with their acquisition.