It is hilarious to think that there were people – though, come to think of it, they were mostly fans of clubs whom the player did not want to join – blasting Real Madrid for spending potentially 100 million euros on Aurelien Tchouameni this transfer window.
The notion that Los Blancos overpaid for Tchouameni is laughable for two reasons.
Firstly, some of those bonuses are so lofty that if Tchouameni were to achieve them, such as being on the Ballon d’Or podium, the fee going up to 100 million euros would actually be a positive for Real Madrid. They will have signed a legendary midfielder, because only a handful of 6’s and 8’s have ever reached those heights.
Secondly, even at 80-90 million euros, Tchouameni is a good value. Not just a fair value. A GOOD value. How can that be? A midfielder for that much money? Shouldn’t forwards be the only players worth that much? Aren’t they the only players who make the difference?
No, they are not. And it has taken the footballing world far too long to realize that truly great midfielders are just as valuable as truly great forwards.
Real Madrid have been the best at recruiting midfielders
You know who has always been ahead of the curve in that regard? Real Madrid. Madridistas really are a spoiled bunch. Luka Modric for 35 million euros (even less than his 40 million Transfermarkt valuation). Toni Kroos for 25 million euros (worth 42 million at the time). Casemiro for six million (plus a 15 million buy-back). Fede Valverde for five. Eduardo Camavinga for 30 million euros.
For years, Los Blancos took advantage of football putting less of a premium on midfield talent. They signed the greatest midfield trio in history for a total of 81 million euros- as much as Aurelien Tchouameni costs now. And then they signed two of the best midfielders of the next generation for less than half of that combined.
Had PSG not gotten involved in the bidding, Real Madrid could have signed Tchouameni for even less. As it stands, the fee being that high – as well as the interest from two other elite clubs in PSG and Liverpool – shows that the time of Real getting midfield bargains may be coming to a close.
Even so, Tchouameni stands a good chance of being worth even more than what Real Madrid paid for him. The transfer market is all about supply and demand. We can see the demand for up-and-coming, star midfielders is rising, and thus the price of players like Tchouameni has gone up.
But the supply part of the equation is also important here. Real Madrid went so hard after Tchouameni as the long-term Casemiro replacement because of the supply issue. There is not another 6 of Tchouameni’s caliber in his age bracket or lower. For the foreseeable future, Tchouameni is going to set the standard at the position. He will do so for the next decade. Tchouameni being in such rare supply led to the best clubs bidding for him, and so Real winning him over – ahead of a bigger offer from PSG, mind you – is a massive deal.
The demand for players like Aurelien Tchouameni will only increase
Back to the demand. More and more teams will see the value in having a player like Tchouameni who can do just about everything asked from a 6 or 8. Tchouameni had three goals and two assists in Ligue 1 last season. He completed 86.7 percent of his passes, drew 1.7 fouls per game, and completed 1.1 dribbles per contest. Defensively, he averaged 2.5 tackles and 2.9 interceptions per game.
Tchouameni was adept at carrying the ball and progressing the ball. He was competent in the final third despite being a defensive midfielder. And he was downright elite defensively.
In the future, teams will be clamoring for that specific skill-set. They have taken notice, watching how Casemiro lifted Real Madrid to another level in the Champions League, proving to be the kryptonite to so many elite attacks. The “defending” in defensive midfielder will become in vogue, seeing the profound impact Casemiro’s had on Europe’s marquee competition.
Tchouameni isn’t just an elite defender, though, he is great on the ball and has attacking upside, as we saw with his sensational brace to lift Monaco over Lille.
Great defensive midfielders are already rare. Defensive midfielders with that kind of attacking quality are an even scarcer commodity. Supply and demand again.
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Tchouameni’s skill-set will become more coveted as Real Madrid continue to succeed and football becomes more modern. Defensive midfielders who are strong on the ball will be the next big profile on the transfer market. Real have already signed the man who is easily the standard in that role now and in the future. They were ahead of the curve, drove hard after their guy despite doubts from people who do not understand the evolution of the game, and will reap the rewards for both their intelligence and confidence on the market.