Any fan of football clichés (Gael excluded, Mr Pleat) knows the best way for a club to keep a player they want is to slap a price tag on him. Inspired by Gary Megson’s £20 million valuation of Gary Cahill, here are some of the scary price tags currently keeping the vultures at bay (in no particular order)…
1. David Beckham (£15 million)
Becks is still a quality player and you know he will sell plenty of shirts for your club, but £15 million is a lot of money for a 34-year-old. So much that AC Milan were not willing to stump up and the ex-England skipper is stuck in loan limbo for now.
2. Carlos Tevez (£32 million)
The Argentinian’s hefty price tag is a big stumbling block if he is going to stay at Old Trafford. It is doubtful Manchester United would splash out so heavily for player they cannot guarantee would be in their team (unless his name is Juan Sebastian Veron).
3. Joe Ledley (£8 million)
A prime example of why most Premier League managers shop abroad. Cardiff City are currently quoting £8 million to anyone enquiring about the availability of their 22-year-old relatively unproven Wales international.
4. Stewart Downing (£15 million)
Middesbrough have thus far seen off Spurs’ stalker-like trail of the England winger by demanding not a penny less than £15 million for him. Championship winger Stewart Downing might be a cheaper commodity though.
5. Gary Cahill (£20 million)
What is that about then? Cahill has been solid enough for Bolton this season, but £20 million is ridiculous. Gary Megson might suggest that it was his intention to make the price ridiculous, but did he really want it to be laughable?
6. Gareth Barry (£18 million)
Martin O’Neill’s overinflated asking price for his skipper and subsequent refusal to negotiate has kept Barry at Villa Park this season. Don’t be surprised to see his efforts rewarded with a few million knocked off the price tag and his dream move to Liverpool.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo (anyone’s guess!)
Is the price tag still scary? In fact, what is the price tag these days? It seems Real Madrid will pay anything to get their man so maybe Fergie should dream up a new figure.
8. Sofiane Feghouli (€30 million)
One of our Top 10 Petit Zizous is being forced to make Inter Milan, Chelsea and Liverpool make patiently because current club Grenoble rate him very highly.
9. David Villa (€100 million)
Cash-strapped Valencia’s big price tag has one thing to stop Real, Barca and the Premier League big boys laughing at it: the fact that Villa wants to stay at the Mestalla. If that ever changes, one suspects a club €300 million in debt won’t be in a position to haggle too much.
10. Karim Benzema (€100 million)
Manchester United and anyone who was anyone was sniffing around this perennial gossip column fodder. But Lyon’s Dr Evil-esque payment demands have kept Benzema in France and led to Europe’s elite cooling their interest.
Which other players have had their suitors scared off by a silly price tag?