French Fancies: 79 million other reasons Zlatan Ibrahimovic chose PSG ahead of Sunderland

Now if someone tells you your pay in a new job is to be €14m a year, you’d be impressed.

No one will be too surprised to hear that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s deal on becoming the latest recruit for Paris Saint-Germain, a club blessed with limitless Qatari money.

It may help explain why, in the end, nothing Seb Larsson was able to say to old Zlatan – and yes, he’s pushing 31 – at Euro 2012 could persuade him his future lay in the North East. On that sort of money he’d be a shade outside the Stadium of Light wages structure. He didn’t even need to consult his Wag on whether she felt the Champs-Elysees or Galeries Lafayette had the edge over the Bridges.

But wait a moment. That €14m isn’t really his salary at all. It’s just his take-home pay.

In Britain, whether you’re a teacher, a dustman, a secretary or a Nissan employee, your wages are expressed in terms of a figure pre-tax, pre-NI deductions.

So Zlatan’s gross wages are higher. And because his new club is in France, nearly six times higher.

Having indulged the fantasy that SAFC would ever be linked with an Ibrahimovic as opposed to a Fletcher or any number of Villa or Blackburn worthies, I should flesh the extraordinary headline figure.

One of the campaign pledges of the new French president Francois Hollande was that all income above €1m a year would be taxed at a thumping 75 per cent. I dare say most of us could live with that, but Zlatan is not most of us. His pay was negotiated, as is common in France, net as opposed to brut.


Le Canard Enchaine
, a close equivalent of Private Eye, did the calculations. Once you take account of that whopping tax deduction and his social security contributions, the starting figure becomes €79 million a year.

At those rates, the €20m transfer fee paid to Milan begins to look a little like small change.

And this is for man who is noted for a “questionable temperament” and doubts about his workrate, according to whoever wrote the introduction to hs Wikipedia entry (which may mean, of course, that his temperament and workrate are impeccable).

Will he produce the goals to help moneybags PSG do what Montpellier stopped them doing last season and win Ligue 1? We may all hope not, but he did manage an impressive haul of 28 in Italy last season and there is obviously more to his game than a fondness for snarling at Joe Hart or stealing his water.

And with the riches at the club’s disposal the best to be said about the chances of another welcome jolt for PSG is that much the same sort of people now predicting an inevitable title win in 2012-2013 were making the same assumptions a year ago.

Monsieur Salut

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9 thoughts on “French Fancies: 79 million other reasons Zlatan Ibrahimovic chose PSG ahead of Sunderland”

  1. John you say,”you get more if you sell it when it’s nearly new but then you have to buy another car.” Of course you do. Absolutely right. However, what Wenger does is to get a new car cheaply (and that’s where my analogy falls down of course. You always have to get another car, and you also have to get a new striker when you sell one unless your name is Steve Bruce.

    There’s nothing particularly scientific about the most successful clubs paying the highest wages. The most successful clubs have the best players and they command the highest wages. Very simple, and while I agree that Ibraimovic will never provide PSG any return on the fee, he has won something like 8 or 9 (can’t remember exactly how many) leage titles in something like 4 different countries. He may not therefore be that much of a gamble (even though I have rarely been impressed by his overall contribution).

  2. Hi, Jeremy,
    I think we’re at cross purposes here. I’m not trying to change the focus of the argument. I’m not even sure what the argument is. All I was trying to do was make a comment about what statistics suggest in the context of Ibrahimovic’s wage and age. I still think what I said is valid: clubs who pay more tend to do better (the best players go where the money is) but players tend to peak and buying a player of Ibrahimovic’s age is a gamble. Maybe I chose poor examples but you got me on a bad day.

    I don’t accept the car argument by the way. Yes, you get more if you sell it when it’s nearly new but then you have to buy another car. Keep it until it falls apart and your losses will be less in the long run

  3. Cattermole’s stats also leaves us down to 10 men in far too many games. That aside, you are changing the focus of the argument here as any analysis of results and outcomes of games regarding when a player is on the fieild or off it is very different matter to when and how Arsene Wenger decides to sell players. In the case of Henry it was most certainly the player who decided to leave and not the manager. Further evidenced by the fact that Wenger took him back on loan last season, and several years after his departure.

    It makes a great deal of sense to sell players before they reach the age of 30 but this isn’t about statistics at all. It’s about economics, which would appear to be the subject of Kuper’s book. A footballer’s career is like car ownership with a similar life span. If you sell it when it’s relatively new, then your return is greater than if you sell it when it’s 10 years old. Where Wenger succeeds and others fail is that he builds his own cars, and increases their value. Anelka, Fabregas, Flamini, Wilshere etc etc etc. Hang on to players in their 30s and you have a shrinking asset. Get them for nothing when they are young (or relatively cheaply) and provide them with a lot of experience even in their developing years and you can make big money.

    I am in a minority that thought Carroll did very well for Liverpool. There is a small minority who think that Henderson also did well (and I disagree). The point that I was making about Liverpool was that they had realised that younger players with sell on potential can be a good way forward. What their equation wasn’t taking into account was signing players for far more than they are worth in the first place They sort of remember Wenger’s tune but forgot the words. Dalglish was foolish to spend 20M on a ridiculously pedestrian player like Henderson, as well as 35M on Carroll. Carroll was a waster of about 20M of that fee but not the rest. Dalglish’s policy was driven by the notion of “effectiveness” ie what does a player produce in statistical terms. This was why particular players were signed as part of this experiment and policy. The problem with raw boned statistics is that it tells us nothing. I am not for one moment suggesting that statistics are useless. How could I? I use them all the time. What I am saying is that the methods used in North American sports are a nonsense, but they are being imported into football with the money that has come from US corporations. Going back to my point about Leon Britton. His stats look great and taking them at face value for pass completion he looks a world beater. Look at him on a football field and count the number of passes that he makes, and then report on where these passes were made and who to. That tells a very different story. He spends most of the game knocking the ball back to his centre backs and then back again. The stats for the CBs will make Steve Caulker look like Franco Baresi in his prime, no doubt. It’s a piece of cake to do this when the opposition are letting you. If you believe Alex Ferguson, his remarks last week would further lay this form of analysis to the graveyard when he said that the age of the ball winning midfield player is over (and I don’t believe him either!) as he asserted that the key midfield player in his team for next season would be Michael Carrick; a midfielder renowned for his inability to tackle. Ferguson maintains that the modern midfielder will thrive on timing interceptions and not tackling. Imagine a day when the man of the match can’t even get on the statistician’s radar.

    Yes, I’m being rather tongue in cheek, and we know that this is Fergie’s excuse for not replacing Paul Scholes, and so desperate was that need he managed to replace Paul Scholes with himself last season. Scholes could never tackle either but he had a propensity to run into people which Carrick lacks. There goes my Football Stats 101 course for anyone with the patience to read. It’s not about how stats are used but also how they are interpreted and misinterpreted by people who don’t understand the game. Sadly for Kenny Dalglish, a man who did at least understand the game well at one point as a manager, he allowed himself to be dazzled by quasi analysis.

  4. I’d be happy if we signed Carroll. I though that he had a very good season but the players around him couldn’t play off him. He was a waste of 35M (most players are) but he wouldn’t be a waste of 20M as he has years ahead of him and will improve markedly.

    The point I was making is that the use of stats in football is completely meaningless and what leads to players like Leon Britton being compared foolishly to Iniesta. Stats made Downing look like a good signing. Other stats since he arrived show that no other player produced as many crosses which didn’t lead to a goal. Then the same stats are used to blame Andy Carroll. There are good crosses and bad crosses and statistical bullshit. Football isn’t grid iron or even boxing and can not be assessed using raw data such as this. Quasi scientific nonsense which is dangerous as well as expensive in Comolli’s case.

    • I don’t acept the use of stats is completed meaningless. It depends on the data, how it is used and why it is used. For example, points lost or goals conceded after Cattermole has been sent off or even booked could inform decisions about playing or selling him. He’s been discussed on this site enough with pro and anti arguments. Who is right? Hard data cuts through emotion. This desn’t mean it sould be the only factor in deciding but I wouldn’t ignore it.

  5. Viera and Petit were midfielders not forwards. The notion of effectiveness or some other term associated with costs (including transfer fees as well as wages) is a nonsense drawn from North American sports where statistics mean everything and where there is a relationship between yards covered, catches and runs scored etc It’s where Liverpool went completely wrong in signing the likes of Downing, Henderson and Carroll, and in trusting the stats of Damien Comolli.

    • I’ve just checked and I misread the sentence. The authors do say Wenger usually got rid of midfielders and forwards, not just forwards. Thanks for pointing it out as I’d hate to give the impression they don’t know what they are writing about.

      I’m not convinced measurement of effectiveness using statistics is a nonsense. It’s a case of using the right statistics and looking for appropriate correlations rather than just choosing some data for analysis because it looks or feels right.

      I was talking to a Liverpool season ticket holder yesterday who thinks Henderson and Carroll didn’t have bad seasons and will do well in the future. He doesn’t want Carroll to go.He could have a point. Would we have been happy if our season was as bad a Liverpool’s was?

  6. I’m just reading “Soccernomics” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. One of its themes is that pay is a very good indicator of a team’s performance, so if they can afford that wage PSG should win everything including the boat race. However, Kuper and Szymanski
    also say that statistics show attackers peak at about 27, and it’s usuallly not good to buy older players at a high price, so maybe PSG have made a mistake.
    No doubt time will tell.

    It’s a very interesting book and I’ll be using it at the end of the transfer window when I give my views in relation to how MON and SAFC have done. Has anyone else on this forum read it?

    • Sorry, I’ve just re-read the bit in the book and they don’t say attackers peak at about 27. They use Wenger selling attackers aged 27-29 as an example. Viera, Henry and Petit were all 29 when he sold them. Overmars was 27. Combined transfer fees – over £100 million.

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