In one of the most bizarre transfer rumours of the summer, Sheffield United have been linked with Franck Ribery.
German publication Kicker says the Blades are interested in Ribery following the announcement he is leaving Bayern Munich.
Apparently the 36-year-old still wants to play for a major European club. Ribery told French radio station RMC he would be open to a return to Marseille:
“I spent two good years in Marseille and it was a stepping stone. I really had a good time there, Marseille is something special. Playing for Marseille, it stays for life. ”
“Everything is possible of course, I am free.”
Meanwhile, Markus Babbel – former Bayern player and current manager of Australian side Western Sydney Wanderers – was also keen on Ribery.
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However, Babbel later admitted the winger would be too expensive; despite being available on a free transfer.
“The current situation is such that we can not afford it. I’ve had a long talk with our chairman and unfortunately he’s not ready to go that deep,” he told Sky Sports Germany.
Can Sheffield United afford Ribery?
It is easy to forget that while no fee is paid for free agents, that doesn’t mean they don’t cost anything. There is, of course, wages to be considered.
And when it comes to a player of Ribery’s reputation, those don’t come cheap.
The Frenchman has won nine Bundesliga titles, six German Cups and a Champions League during 12 years at Bayern. He certainly has some talent and his contracts reflect that.
Forbes reported that in 2018 – the last time Ribery signed an extension at the Allianz Arena – he was earning £13.25m a year. That did include bonuses and winnings.
With the Daily Mail reporting the Blades have an overall transfer budget this summer of £20m, that sum does not seem realistic for the South Yorkshire club to pay.
While Ribery is likely to accept a pay cut for his next move, surely he would still be beyond the Blades?