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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Carles Puyol says spiraling transfer fees in football 'crazy' but 'that's the way football is going now'

Former Barcelona, speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference, said £75 million deal that took Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool 'unthinkable' just a few years ago 

Carles Puyol, the former Barcelona and Spain defender, during the Dubai International Sports Conference at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Satish Kumar / Reuters
Carles Puyol, the former Barcelona and Spain defender, during the Dubai International Sports Conference at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Satish Kumar / Reuters

Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol says Virgil van Dijk’s £75 million (Dh370.3m) transfer to Liverpool is indicative of football’s “crazy” market.

On Wednesday, the Dutch centre-back completed the move from fellow Premier League side Southampton, making him the most expensive defender in history.

Puyol touched upon the transfer during the Dubai International Sports Conference at Madinat Jumeirah on Thursday. The former defender, who won six Primera Liga crowns and three Uefa Champions League titles during his 15-year senior career at Barca, said he thought players deserve the wages they receive nowadays, simply because that is what the market dictates.

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On today’s spiraling transfer fees, Puyol added: “It's the market. It's crazy, but it's the demand. You can't control that. And I don’t think it will stop. Yesterday Liverpool took a defender for £75m. Several years ago that was unthinkable. But that's the way football is going now.”

Puyol was joined on the panel in Dubai by Francesco Totti, with the former Roma captain agreeing that transfer fees had become exorbitant.

“Football has changed deeply between my time and now,” the Italian said. “I prefer the romantic football of before, now it is all about business. I would never imagine to buy a football player for such high amounts. Now it’s too much, it’s crazy.

“Of course there are top players, like Neymar, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, these people are 10 steps above the competition. And it is right that they are remunerated more than other players.

“But Neymar, for example, it’s too much to pay $250m [Dh918.1m] for a player. It makes no sense. This goes beyond reality. But for me the most valuable player at the moment is [Lionel] Messi. Messi’s No 1. Just don’t tell Cristiano.”

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