In today’s climate of inflated transfer fees (Gonzalo Higuain, case in point No.1), the fee for 22-year-old Smith, who played just 10 times for the Reds across all competitions last season, and has nine Socceroo caps, could reach as much as £6m including add-ons and bonuses, after an initial £3m is paid up front.
It is a clever piece of transfer work by the Anfield club, which only re-signed left-back Smith in November to a long-term deal after a contract impasse from July 2015, where he initially baulked at a new contract offer. However, since he was under 24 years of age, the club was able to keep a hold of his registration, and after further talks, he opted to stay.
Taking the pure numerical worth (yes, inflations and values have ballooned in recent years), Smith’s potential £6m ($10.5m) transfer value could place him alongside the £7.6m/$10.5m Leeds United paid for Mark Viduka from Celtic for the 2000-2001 campaign, and ahead of the fees paid by Parma in 2002 for Mark Bresciano and in 2015 by Valencia for Mat Ryan.
Harry Kewell’s infamously low transfer fee from Leeds to Liverpool in 2003, shrouded in controversy over the work of his agent, rounds out the top five, at £5m or $8.8m, with Vince Grella’s Premier League stint, a $7.4m move from Torino to Blackburn, the previous fifth highest fee.
While another surprise packet is Scott McDonald’s move to Middlesbrough from Celtic for £3.6m, just outside the top five, the likes of Mark Schwarzer and Tim Cahill are relatively low down the list because they saw out their contracts. Indeed, the goalkeeper’s 1997 move from Bradford to Middlesbrough is his most expensive move despite having played at Fulham, Chelsea and now Leicester.
In a sign of the times, last season’s moves – Massimo Luongo to QPR and Mitch Langerak to Stuttgart – all sit in the top 10, while Apostolos Giannou’s transfer to Guangzhou R&F is more than Everton paid for Cahill.