Barcelona bid sure to set European keeper transfer fees all out of whack

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This morning a report in Italian paper Gazetta dello Sport has set the Spanish papers alight with news that Barcelona bid a ridiculous €23 million ($30.7 million) for Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.

And it was turned down!!

Apparently Inter president Massimo Moratti said, “Handanovic to Barcelona? No, Handanovic remains with us.”  According to the report, Moratti is holding out for an even more staggering €30 million ($40 million).

The 28-year-old Slovenian kept just nine clean sheets in 35 Serie A matches, which was tied for 14th in the league, and he had 13 goose eggs in 54 over all competitions. His save percentage of 75.4% was 2nd in Serie A of all keepers with at least 10 games.  He gave up a goal every 59 minutes, 19th in Serie A of keepers with at least 10 games.  Those are good, not great, numbers.

It’s hard to get good statistics for goalkeepers, since the numbers often heavily depend on the team’s defense, and Inter’s was horrible this past year (they gave up the 2nd most goals in the entire league). However, it’s still hard to imagine the goalkeeper of a team that allowed that many goals is commanding this kind of bid.

So if that’s the price for Handanovic, then what is the correct market price for a player like Simon Mignolet or Wojciech Szczesny?

The BBC reported just today that Mignolet is set to sign for Liverpool for just £10 million ($15.7 million).  That’s half of the Barcelona bid for Handanovic that was turned down.  According to this article on an Arsenal blog which does a fabulous job of analyzing goalkeeper statistics, Mignolet was one of the best keepers in the Premier League last season on a horrible defensive squad, and probably was the sole reason they stayed up.

If you’re not someone who wants to dissect statistics and metrics, this list by Bloomberg Sports ranked the top 50 players in the world using a massive number of different data points, and Simon Mignolet was the highest ranked goalkeeper of two to make the list.

To compare, Dutch first-choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was just purchased by Fulham for £4.7 million ($7.4 million). Stekelenburg was dropped by his former club AS Roma to second-choice in the second half of last season, but many thought that was unfair, and he regained his spot when Roma made a managerial change down the stretch.

Either way you look at it, the bid by Barcelona and Inter’s evaluation of Handanovic is over the top, and the situation sure to set off a chain reaction and could have a major impact on other moves around Europe at the goalkeeper position.