Remember when transfer fees were interesting? When a player being sold for a fee of over £10 million was actually seen as something of a big deal? Now don't get me wrong, for a lot of clubs it would still be huge to pay or receive such a wedge but in football’s higher reaches it just doesn't seem like it's something worth getting worked up over anymore.
I know football fans will always want to debate such issues and social media gives a platform for supporters to brag about how their club bought a player for a great price or how another team are idiots because they apparently overspent on someone. More often than not, the accounts having these conversations always have names like @Ozilology or @Coutinhoesque, smashing the crying-laughing emoji so often that you wonder if those tears are actually masking the pain of having never kissed another human. Look out for my @OSheaPhilosophy account coming later this season.
These arguments don't seem to have any basis any more though because the transfer market seems so absurdly skewed. When the Premier League's new money deal kicked in last summer, we thought the madness had peaked when Paul Pogba joined Manchester United for £89 million and when John Stones was questionably snapped up for £47.5 million by Manchester City. Looking back, it just seems the fees for players became grossly inflated due to huge cash windfall in England and rather than that carrying on in 2017, it looks like the consistency has disappeared and valuations have gone all over the place.
A case in point would be Gylfi Sigurdsson, a fine player, who is being pursued by both Everton and Leicester City. While I've got no issue with Swansea digging in their heels to keep their best player and understand that if he does leave, they'll want to at least get big money for him, why are teams bidding £40 million for him in the first place?! Again, Sigurdsson is a very good player and immensely talented but £40 million for a player who will soon turn twenty-eight and has spent the majority of his career playing for mid-table club?! Christ.
It makes the £30 million Sunderland received from Everton for Jordan Pickford look like nothing. When you consider Pickford’s age, the fact he's home-grown and his incredible potential, it makes you wonder if Martin Bain and co. should have forced The Toffee's the sweeten the deal a little more.
But then I go back to my original point - is the market just so crazy now that it isn't worth even thinking about any more?
Nathan Ake bought by Bournemouth for £20 million, Harry Maguire going to Leicester in a £17 million deal and even Wolves being able to whack out almost £16 million for Ruben Neves makes you wonder what good value even is these days.
One of the main issues facing Sunderland this summer - and a one that is a talking point for many supporters - is how we go about rebuilding our squad. In doing that, we could see players such as Lamine Kone, Jeremain Lens or Wahbi Khazri leave, with the cash raised from such sales being partly used to bring in fresh faces. So, naturally, SAFC fans will be looking closely to see how much is being brought in and, towards the end of last season, you would have thought that around £10 million for each player would be decent business - given that we’re desperate for dosh.
In the context we're now in though, I'm not sure if Kone is worth half of what Nathan Ake is or if Khazri is worth only a quarter of Gylfi Sigurdsson. Yes, I know it's not as binary as that but, with such wild fees being bandied about, Sunderland should be taking that into consideration.
To their credit, Aiden McGeady and James Vaughan have arrived for next to nothing, so it does look like the hierarchy at the club are taking a smart approach to their business and that’s when you know that you’re living in a crazy world.
It's difficult to employ an “ignore it and will go away” policy to the ludicrous nature of the transfer market, given how dominant it is in the modern football news cycle. What we as fans can do, though, is stop caring about it.
It's not something that really has any baring on our enjoyment of the game and there's nothing we can really do to make sense of it any more. So whether a player has signed for £3 million or £30 million, look beyond the price tag and just think about what he can bring to the side.