Everyone has a favourite place to shop. Sometimes you feel let down by the goods on offer, the cost or the quality of the service, but for some reason an inexplicable loyalty exists which keeps bringing you back even if similar products are available elsewhere. Premier League clubs are no different.
Liverpool just completed their fifth signing from Southampton in three summers and most expensive yet, paying £34 million for Sadio Mane despite the suspicion that they haven’t seen value for money from the £59 million that they spent on Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne.
Manchester City’s weak spot is for a trip to Goodison Park, perhaps motivated by the top-of-the-range Richard Dunne that they picked up there in 2000, or more likely a series of bad results against Everton planting a seed of “these guys must be special” that they have never successfully shifted.
They have purchased goods from Goodison twice in the Sheikh Mansour era and never truly had their investment vindicated.
Joleon Lescott did more in his five seasons after joining for £22 million in 2009 than his critics claim, contributing to two Premier League title triumphs, but he started more than 20 top-flight matches in only one campaign and his departure in 2014 came with no transfer fee attached.
Still, at least he had those two winner medals to show for his stay. Jack Rodwell arrived for £12 million in 2012 hyped as a future England captain, started just six league games in his first term as they surrendered the title and then moved to Sunderland after an even less impactful second year. Nowadays, he is usually seen playing the part of unused substitute for the Black Cats.
So if the evidence of John Stones’ 2015-16 – in which Everton’s record with him in the side was P38 W10 D15 L13 compared to P11 W8 D1 L2 without him – isn’t enough to warn Man City that spending £50 million on the centre back would be misguided, their past business with the Toffees’ should be.
Indeed, the 11/5 favourites to win the Premier League generally haven’t found much joy buying domestically in recent seasons, with the list of players that they have paid a fee for since 2012 reading Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Wilfried Bony, Patrick Roberts, Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.