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Teenage Soccer Star Making Headlines In England

“What a waste of money.”

So said the headline in a British tabloid after Manchester United signed Anthony Martial on the transfer deadline day for £36 million. With four goals already, including one to ice the Liverpool match in front of the Stretford End at Old Trafford, and a brace against Southampton to power a 3-2 away win, it looks like the 19-year old is anything but a waste of money. But such is the state of the English press at the moment.

That the teenager has come straight into the United lineup and started scoring goals just shows how incredibly talented he is. One thing that people can not understand about the transfer process, and maybe about life in general, is the cost, or value, of something.

For a team such as West Bromwich Albion, or Crystal Palace, yes, £36 million on one player, when that same sum could buy three players, is very high. But for Manchester United, or Manchester City, with its purchases of Raheem Sterling for £49 million and Kevin DeBruyne for a reported £55 million, those fees are not really of any consequence. United, in particular, signs a new sponsorship deal almost every week it seems, and just started a new Adidas deal worth £750 million over 10 years.

Add in the Chevrolet deal, worth a cool £47 million a a year, and that Martial deal is a drop in the bucket.

Rich teams, like rich people, do not have to look at the price tag before purchasing an item. Maybe that is something that some can not wrap their head around, because the chatter on social media, and in the news media as clearly seen with Martial, always boils down to an argument over whether a team overpaid for a new player. It would be akin to me shouting that the guy who owns seven local Subway restaurants should not be buying a Porsche with his money.

There is a clear divide in the English Premier League, but also in the Bundesliga, La Liga, and Ligue 1, between the few teams with ultimate spending power, and the others that are trying to buy shrewdly to either stay in the top flight, or maybe make a run at the lucrative European spots. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and the two Manchester teams can buy who they want.

Sometimes the players end up busts, but to label a 19-year old kid, who is already capped at the international level, a terrible signing before he kicks a ball for his new team screams of desperation, either to tear a team down, or to get rival fans to buy and read the article.

But so goes the saying, “If you want to sell papers, write about Manchester United. Hated, adored, but never ignored.”

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John Henry, this message is for you. Please keep Brendan Rodgers as manager. Please! He is doing a bang-up job, and the fans of the other 19 Premier League, and probably the 91 Football League, teams implore you to keep him around for the long term.

* * *

This is a Champions League week, and it may be the most important one for English sides in the history of the tournament. After last week’s article talked about the UEFA coefficient, and three of the four sides coming off a match week one loss, it is imperative that the sides get a win, and begin to right the ship.

Chelsea is in the best shape, as the only EPL side to win two weeks ago, and the Blues travel to Porto Tuesday for what should be their toughest game. Arsenal play on Tuesday as well, at home against an Olympiakos side that was drubbed at home in week one by Bayern Munich.

Wednesday sees the two Manchester clubs in action against German opposition, as United host Wolfsburg, and City travel to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

For Arsenal, United, and City, although they can still qualify out of the second spot in the group, all three will really want to top their respective tables, and stay away from a round-of-16 tie with a group winner.

Arsenal would most likely have to beat Bayern Munich twice to do that, though, so once again, the Gunners, if they make it through to the knockout stages, will be out at the first hurdle.

That is the closest thing to a lock in life that there is; death, taxes, and Arsenal out in the round-of-16. City has only ever been to the knockout rounds twice, and had to face Barcelona both times. One would think the Citizens would like to avoid that this season.

As for United, after a year out of the tournament, the Red Devils will want to go as far as possible in 2016.

Step up this week, or risk going out early, or even worse, Thursday night, title-destroying trips to the far reaches of the mainland for Europa League ties as a third place finisher in the Champions League group.

Sean Miller can be reached at

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