Onana and Sanches: A tale of two midfielders shows Europe is learning to extort the Premier League

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford Updated: 5 Aug 2022 08:58 BST 3 min read
Amadou Onana in action for Lille

Lille will have cashed in on two midfielders this summer when Amadou Onana joins Everton or West Ham, following the PSG-bound Renato Sanches out of the Stade Pierre-Mauroy exit door, but their relative transfer fees tell a bigger story.

Everton and West Ham are locked in a race to sign Belgium defensive midfielder Onana, one that is likely to set the winner back €40 million.

Paris Saint-Germain aren't exactly shy of a bob or two, but they only had to part ways with a net €13m to acquire Sanches from Lille earlier this week.

While Lille have done incredibly well to make €53m from two players who didn't even start last season as first choices - Benjamin Andre and Xeka invariably paired in central midfield - one of those fees feels incredibly inflated, and it isn't Sanches's!

Sanches was voted European football's Golden Boy after helping Portugal to European Championship glory in 2016, and although his club career took a while to catch up with his international one after disappointing spells at Bayern Munich and Swansea, he is now hitting his peak at 24.

Incredible Sanches stats

Sanches completed an average of two completed dribbles in Ligue 1 last season, as well as seven progressive passes, while his four shot-creating actions put him in the highest 97th percentile for each of those measures. This is a serious player, and PSG have done incredibly well to get him for so little.

Onana is also exciting, albeit a different player to Sanches. Where Sanches likes to create play, the 6'5" Onana likes to break it up, averaging three tackles per game last season. He also only started 11 league games to Sanches's 20.

The Senegal-born youngster is four years younger than Sanches, which helps put a premium on his price, but for him to cost four times as much as the Portuguese before add-ons says as much about the buying club as it does the player.

Also this summer, Lille have offloaded two defenders: Zeki Celik and Sven Botman, to Roma and Newcastle respectively. Both were stalwarts when Lille won their shock Ligue 1 title in 2021. Both are in their mid-20s. Both are full internationals. Celik cost €7m, Botman €37m.

The conversation about Bundesliga Tax has been swirling in recent seasons, and players from many leagues often take time to adapt to English football. But in financial terms, the Premier League tax could hardly be clearer.

Most Read