MLS teams typically have to rely on negotiating with players out of contract when bringing in new talent, but every now and again teams chose to bite the bullet and pay the transfer fee. Such was the case last season when the Galaxy brought in Robbie Keane through the transfer window.
The Galaxy and Tottenham Hotspur reached an agreement of a circa $5 million transfer fee, with the total deal worth near $12 million (circa $3.5 last year, $3.5 this year). That's a lot of money for one MLS club to spend on a player, and has to be gerrymandered into the budget using allocation money and MLS funny math.
How much of a drop in value was that for Keane? His transfer from Liverpool to Tottenham in '09 fetched $23.5 million. This one year after Tottenham sold him to Liverpool for $33.8 million. Keane scored 82 goals in his first stretch with Tottenham to command that hefty transfer fee, then played in just 19 games for Liverpool when they sold him back.
Now Keane's value is placed at an all-time low of $6.4 million. The Galaxy were able to pay below estimated market value for him back in 2011, and 13 goals in 25 appearances certainly is a job well done. But since Keane's next negotiation likely comes out of contract, we'll have to see if he re-ups with the Galaxy or decides to go back to Europe without any leverage.
At any rate, transfer negotiations are difficult, player values fluctuate, and over in Europe you're dealing with salaries much greater than in MLS. FIFA 13 promises a revamped manager mode. Whereas in old versions of FIFA, players had a market value and hitting that market value usually resulted in a yes, now clubs have an AI as well as the players.
There were a few occasions in FIFA 12 were a player would consider a lower level club beneath them, but you could however play as Leeds and go after Landon Donovan without the Galaxy saying "he's too valuable to let go". When the Galaxy brought Keane over, Tottenham had been loaning him out to anyone who asked, and LA had an appeal to Keane beyond soccer so the club was able to negotiate a below market transfer fee.
Looks like revamped transfers in career mode are going to result in a more realistic experience: