Money Myths: How reliable are the football transfer fee numbers we see printed in the papers?

Sports lawyer Jake Cohen speaks to Newstalk's Team 33 about how figures are put together

Arsenal, Liverpool, Granit Xhaka, signing, transfer

A young Arsenal wearing a shirt with new signing Granit Xhaka's name on his back before the game against Liverpool. Picture by Nigel French EMPICS Sport

"Arsene Wenger has been handed a £200 million war chest to spend by Arsenal..."

That's the typical headline one would see splashed across the back pages of a tabloid as a transfer window approaches.

But to speak in terms of "war chests" and the likes is not an accurate representation of how the transfer market works as sports lawyer Jake Cohen explained to us on Newstalk's Team 33 this week.

The value of a player quoted or printed in a newspaper when a transfer is completed is also not an exact representation of the fee that will be paid - with the different costs of Arsenal and Manchester United signing Granit Xhaka and Henrik Mkhitaryan respectively as an example of how figures can be viewed differently.

"By nature because there are confidentially agreements and neither clubs, players or agents talk openly about these matters, so very few football journalists would have the access or have cultivated the sources or the information," Cohen explains.

"Naturally depending on which side of the table the source is, I think we're going to get very different numbers."

Add-ons also mean the figure often quoted publicly is subject to plenty of change as well as the structure of payments. That depends on a few factors. Both parties want to make themselves look better, so a buyer will quote the cheaper base figure and a seller go for a more expensive public number with add-ons etc included.

Cohen also discusses just how significant image rights are when it comes to the total salary a footballer will earn in a contract, as well as the diverse roles of agents on all sides of the negotiating table.

And he also spoke about whether it is a myth that a club really can recoup what they have paid on a player via proceeds from shirt sales.

You can listen in to the full interview with Jake Cohen on the podcast player or on iTunes, as well as Newstalk Sports' Stephen Long mapping out just how bad the groups in a 48 team World Cup would be: