In the world of transfers, goalies get no love

Most soccer pundits and fans alike agree that the last World Cup was a coming out party for many goalkeepers. From Shaka Hislop and his heroics against Sweden, Artur Boruc as the one bright spot in the Polish squad, Joao Ricardo saving Angola, Petr Cech keeping the marauding Italians at bay, Oswaldo Sanchez turning in a gutsy performance even as he lost his father a day before the World Cup, Ricardo Perreira outdueling Paul Robinson in the England Portugal match, Gianluigi Buffon turning a cool performance against Germany to lead them to the finals. The 2006 World Cup came up short on the attacking quality but was replete with scintillating performances from the custodians of the goal .
From the national squads to club level. In recent CL finals, Liverpool won in 2005 as Jerzy Dudek turned in an inspired performance against Milan in the penalty shootout. Two years ago, Dida did the same winning Milan its fifth CL title as he denied Juventus in the penalty shootout. From the CL level to weekly Premiership games. Brad Friedel’s goalkeeping has saved the day for Blackburn on innumerable occasions. He has been arguably been one of Blackburn’s best and its most durable player in the last seven seasons.
However, all of these accomplishments have not seen goalies worth rise in the transfer market. They are as a group, still grossly undervalued. In 1997, Shay Given cost Newcastle 1.5 million pounds and in 2007, Everton paid Man Utd 3 million for Tim Howard, one of the more expensive goalies. In ten years, the cost of a goalie has largely stagnated. The league average is 2.5 million pounds. At the lower end, Marcus Hahnemann at Reading cost 80,000 pounds and Paddy Kenny a mere 10,000 pounds. Contrast this with the 4.5 million pounds that Arsenal paid Inter for Kanu in 1999 and the 10 million pounds that Newcastle paid Inter for Obafemi Martins in 2006. Andriy Shevchenko was transferred to Milan for 14 million pounds from Dynamo Kiev in 1999 and Chelsea bought him for 30 million pounds in 2006. Peter Cech, part of the spending binge incurred by Abramovich’s rebuilding of the Blues cost them 7 million pounds, the most spent on a goalie. That 2004 season, Cech was joined by Arjen Robben and Ricardo Carvalho, on whom Chelsea spent 12 million and 20 million respectively, overshadowing Cech’s signing amount. Cech is at his peak and is one of the world’s best goalies but if he were to transfer today Chelsea would not get much more for him.
Just one statistic is telling. Nicholas Anelka’s transfer amount with all his clubs totals 51.5 million pounds.The total transfer amount of all 20 starting goalies in the Premiership also approximates 51.5 million pounds depending on who starts. With Pepe Reina in and Jerzy Dudek out the the figure is a bit more (53 million pounds). Anelka and fellow sharp shooters El Hadji Diouf and Kevin Davies consume 69.5 million pounds in total transfer fees. Anelka himself was the beneficiary of one of the most inflated transfer amounts in history. In 1997, Arsenal paid PSG 500,000 pounds and in 1999, Real bought him out for 23 millions pounds. A valuation 46 times over the original sticker price.
The group of twenty Premiership goalies boast big names like Edwin Van der Saar, Petr Cech, Jens Lehmann, Paul Robinson, David James, Shay Given, Mark Schwarzer, Jerzy Dudek, Antti Niemi to name a few. Most are or have been starters for their national squads. Between them have made 5646 club appearances and played nationally 641 times. Apart from all their skills, goalies bring other qualities to their teams. Many of them are individualists and are naturally too, the emotional leaders of their clubs. David James, Jens Lehmann, and Jerzy Dudek also make news for their colourful personalities and escapades. For all of this, it seems gray socialist economic considerations dictate the worth of a goalie while forwards and midfielders are beneficiaries of unfettered capitalist benevolence.
These observations have been directed towards the Premiership because the stats were readily available but I suspect that this trend is also to be found in other leagues too.
Stats at Soccerbase >>
Correction: Obafemi Martins played 88 matches for the Inter senior squad from 2003 onwards. He was sold to make way for Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahamovic. Thanks, Alvaro for drawing attention to the mistake. However, the point is that strikers worth have appreciated considerably whereas, goalies, continue to stagnate.

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3 comments on “In the world of transfers, goalies get no love
  1. well, i feel sorry for the goalkeepers. not only in the term of transfer price, but also when it comes to the pitch. a goalkeeper can do a fantastic job for 89 min., but when they make an error in the last minute and cost their team, everybody will swear them and forget 89 minutes fantastic play.

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