Depending on how seriously you focus on the European gossip, the summer of 2012 might seem like a bit of a letdown in terms of player movement. Blame it on the European Championships and even the Olympics, but so far we haven't seen the kind of moves that draw attention on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, for the most part what we're seeing is some of the stronger teams in Europe looking worse off than they were at the end of the 2011-12 season.
What that hasn't meant is the super clubs of Europe reigning in spending. Far from it, but the market is working against clubs focused on holding onto as much of their current squad as possible.
Yes, Chelsea spent over $48 million for Eden Hazard. A couple of tiers down from that amount, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Spurs have all spent over $15 million for a player this summer. With all due respect for the level of talent we're discussing, there's still the feeling that teams have yet to show they'll spend on the types of players that will change things quickly. That includes Chelsea, who don't need to be reminded that their Champions League trophy didn't come with the Premier League title.
This is about role players as well as stars. Figuring out how much a roster player should cost at the highest level of professional soccer has been an ongoing exercise for the elite clubs. Few probably feel that they've gotten it right, but resisting the urge to spend is more difficult than simply spending.
Last season, we saw Hazard-level transfer fees late in the window. July wasn't even an indication of what happened in the last weeks of August when Chelsea and Manchester City decided to spend. It's not exactly a stretch to see something similar in 2012.
An already strong team revamping through spending beyond their revenue is the reason for Financial Fair Play, but from what's already happened this won't be the summer where the market adjusts. In fact, 2012 is already looking like every other summer in recent memory. There's no new focus on fiscal responsibility or weighing transfer fees against value for money. Instead, it's business as usual in Europe.
Corner Rating: (with 1 the transfer market settling down and 11 another round of exorbitant fees) 10.
Last Week's Corner: The Week 20 MLS games didn't give us an opportunity to reassess the ability of teams to recover from a red card, so the rating stays a 5.