Last year Paul Pogba became the most expensive signing in football history with a transfer valuation of £89.3 Million, and now the football world is expecting another one of his French compatriots in Kylian Mbappe, an 18-year-old forward for AS Monaco FC, to shatter that record. When the Telegraph reported that AS Monaco FC had rejected a £103 Million bid for Mbappe, the football world was shocked and united with a simple question: has modern football come down to only throwing money around?

European football market: Big expectations and bigger demands

Every new transfer season brings in higher expectations and even higher demands, whether it be Fans or parent clubs. Footballers are not alone in the surging price evaluations, football as a whole has grown very rapidly in the last decade. Especially the way that European Football has surged, according to Statista analysis, from being a £12 Billion market in 2006 to £22 Billion in 2017, with the top five leagues in Europe doing most of the heavy lifting. Individual clubs at the head of these leagues have seen debts, and revenues go higher as they invest more and more, while general revenue streams primarily gate fees and television broadcast rights have seen consistent growth in pricing as well.

The most top earners are usually the highest spenders, and some of these clubs boast the largest amount of debts as well.

The past decade and the next one

To understand further how football has developed in a decade, we take a look at some numbers that make it easy to compare. Aside from the massive transfer valuations, we look at salaries of players in the top tier, in 2007.

John Terry reportedly became the highest paid footballer in the Premier League when he signed a contract ensuring him £180,000 per week (inflation-adjusted). This figure, however, is less than what 22-year-old Raheem Sterling now makes in the Premier League, which is still not good enough to get Sterling in the top 10 of the highest paid footballers.

The highest earning footballer in 2006, Ronaldinho of FC Barcelona, made approximately £470,000 per week (inflation-adjusted), while in 2017, Lionel Messi makes a whopping £940,000 per week (endorsements included for both players).

Unfortunately for the fans, it is not just the football transfer valuations, and wages that have escalated, a report from thisismoney in 2011 found that matchday ticket prices have soared by 1000% in the past two decades and the number of the younger match goers was also on the decline. However, average attendance has been high, and Premier League revenues have seen a consistent growth from around £1.4 Billion in the 2006-07 season to £3.6 Billion in 2015-2016. This structure, based as it is on high revenue generation and spending, poses a problem for the top European leagues.

Once the lure of money is driven into the game, it can be taken over by other countries to the point where football is secondary, and money becomes primary for the footballers (the Chinese League being a good example).

The globalisation of European football has had lots of both positive and negative effects on fans from around the world. While the sport seems to reach a growing audience, more and more people are being priced out of attending games and being part of the clubs they loved and grew up with. Footballers become larger than life superstars, their demands are growing and so are the requirements of their parent clubs, who then look to generate higher revenues. If left unchecked, this is a dangerous cycle that can commercialise football in a way where a fan would be completely converted into a customer.

With fans becoming more vocal about these changes, the notion of 'No football without fans' is being held true for now, but the next decade will decide the extent of the commercialisation of football and every single fan would need to play their part in keeping their sacred game sacred.