The Premier League’s magic money tree has transfer fees spiralling out of control – how long can it last? – Darren Lewis

The fact that Manchester United are even thinking about at it says it all.

Wages of £400,000-a-week on top of a transfer fee of around £175million for 32-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo.

The idea that he could quit Real Madrid to become the ultimate trophy signing at Manchester United sums up a simply crazy transfer window within which fees are spiralling out of control.

Only three times in the past five summers have English clubs paid more than £50million for a player. This summer could see the entire top five over that figure, with Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Alexandre Lacazette, Virgil van Dijk, and Kylian Mbappe all highly sought after.

They don’t come much more proven than the 32-year-old

Lacazette will fetch in excess of £50m – but can’t start for his country ahead of Giroud

At least Ronaldo has his three Champions Leagues, four Ballons d’Or, his two Spanish titles and the European Championship that he inspired Portugal to last season in his favour.

He turns 33 next February but he has netted 55 times for club and country this season.

The fact is, however, the Premier League is awash with TV cash and Champions League revenue. Clubs are able to throw their money about this summer with only a few of them railing against being taken for a ride.

Chelsea’s chief negotiator, Marina Granovskaia, simply does not want to go anywhere near the £100million that Everton are demanding for Lukaku.

Everton want £100million for their Belgian striker

He may have scored 26, 25 and 20 goals over the past three seasons. At the age of just 23 he also has a number of good years ahead of him.

But Chelsea remain locked in talks with the Toffees, anxious not to be milked just because they have the cash.

Manchester City have no such concerns. They have already splashed out £35million to make Benfica star Ederson the most expensive keeper of all time.

The 23-year-old has never played for the Brazil senior team and has it all to prove in English football.

Manchester City spent big to land Ederson – he doesn’t have a senior Brazil cap

England Under-21 stopper Pickford is the third most expensive keeper of all time

Opinion is also split over another keeper, 23-year-old Jordan Pickford, who made his first-team debut with Sunderland in January 2016 and moved to Everton for £30million last week.

His supporters insist he is as good with his feet as he is in command of his goal. His critics are incredulous that he has become the world’s third most expensive keeper on the strength of just one full season in the Premier League.

In fact, if Pickford is worth £30million, then what would that make David De Gea, the Manchester United no.1 in whom Real Madrid remain interested?

Superstar Juventus right-back Dani Alves is also on the City wishlist – even though the Champions League winner would command a huge package in terms of transfer fee and wages, at the age of 34.

At 34, Alves could make his way to the Premier League

Spurs have also upped the price yet further in anticipation of City’s opening gambit for Kyle Walker. The north Londoners will now not do business for less than £50million.

Why not, with Southampton demanding around £60-70million for central defender Van Dijk? Even some Liverpool fans are sceptical as to whether the price tag justifies the Saints’ bid to take advantage of the big clubs’ transfer cash burning a hole in their pockets.

Bear in mind City paid a fee just shy of £50million to land John Stones from Everton last summer. Stones ended the season unable to get into the City team. Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, both bought by City for in excess of £30million, have also flopped.

The Saints want in excess of £70million for their Dutch defender

Luke Shaw, for whom United shattered the record for a teenager, cost £27million three years ago from Southampton. He too can’t get into the Reds’ team.

Arsenal Wenger’s search for a marquee signing to keep pace with the big guns has taken him to Lyon’s Lacazette, a player that would have crawled over broken glass to sign for him last summer. This time around, the Gunners’ desperation/interest is so strong that Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas has been able to use it to conduct an auction.

The French club have already rejected a bid of around £55million from the Gunners for the man who netted 36 times last season.

Yet he looks a much more realistic prospect than Monaco’s Mbappe.

Monaco starlet Mbappe is set to cost a world record fee…

The young France striker has just one year as a senior under his belt

At 18 years of age the forward has the world at his feet. His club are confident of keeping him for another season, offering him the chance to excel yet further with regular action in World Cup year.

Don’t rule out Real Madrid trumping Arsenal with a silly bid, however, if Ronaldo goes.

After all, this is becoming such a silly season that even Huddersfield Town have agreed a £10m fee with Manchester City for Aaron Mooy.

When did you think you would ever hear Huddersfield, transfer and £10m in the same sentence?

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