Writing in his weekly column for the Daily Star, Merson adds how clubs are gambling so much on staying in the top-flight that they’re happy to pay far more the player’s true transfer value.
“Norwich spent a lot of money when they paid £8.5m for Steven Naismith, and I bet he didn’t sign the sort of contract Benik Afobe did when he went to Bournemouth,” he explained.
“Normally at this time of year players sign contracts where they agree to take a drop in wages if their team gets relegated. But I don’t think Naismith will have done that. At his age, leaving a big club like Everton, why would he?”
“The best buy so far has to be Charlie Austin because £4m is a steal. They say his knees are a bit dodgy and he would have been free next summer but at £4m it’s worth it. He plays games and scores goals.”
Norwich entered this month intent on bringing in a new striker and a centre-back, and they were as a result linked with a number of names before settling on Naismith and defender Timm Krose from Wolfsburg.
Naismith, 29, was out of favour at Everton and managed just 18 goals in 103 games for the club – a record not many would exactly deem prolific but that didn’t stop the Canaries making their move.
If they stay up, Alex Neil’s gamble will have paid off but relegation could pose potential problems.
Austin, on the other hand, was a bargain for Southampton considering how much teams were prepared to pay for him last summer and his superb record in-front of goal.
The 26-year-old scored 18 Premier League goals for Queens Park Rangers last season, and a further ten strikes in only 12 Championship starts this term illustrates his ability in and around the penalty area.
Regardless of whether Austin was out of contract this summer, Southampton have ultimately brought in a younger, more consistent goal scorer for half the price Norwich ended up paying for Naismith.