As if there weren’t enough plot-lines in tomorrow’s Manchester derby, it would appear there is now a brand-new one.
That’s right, to go along with the fact it is Manchester United v Manchester City and the return of Jose Mourinho v Pep Guardiola – a famously ferocious rivalry – Saturday’s showdown is also set to be the most expensive football match in history.
Last season’s ‘El Cashico’ between Real Madrid and Barcelona tipped the scales at a whopping £562million – based on players’ previous transfer fees.
With players such as Gareth Bale, the former world record transfer at £86m, Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m) and Luis Suarez (£75m) on display in that one, it’s easy to think that would have remained the most expensive game ever.
However, taking a look at the 22 players set to suit up for the Manchester derby according to Sky, it blows the La Liga showdown out of the water at a whopping £685.7m.
That is an outrageous £123.7m bump on last November’s El Clasico – won 4-0 by Barcelona thanks to a Suarez brace to go with one apiece for Neymar and Andres Iniesta.
Fellow summer signing Eric Bailly brings £30m to the party, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s inclusion is a freebie based on his most recent transfer.
In the blue corner, John Stones’ outrageous £47.5m move from Everton, along with £37m-man Leroy Sane boosts City’s total.
But it’s not just this summer adding to the noise, with previous years’ big-money buys such as Kevin De Bruyne (£54m), Raheem Sterling (£49m) and even players like Juan Mata (£37.1m), Wayne Rooney (£27m) and Fernandinho (£30m) boosting the total.
Where the main discrepancy appears to lie is in the use of youth systems.