The transfer market looks set for its biggest shake-up since summer 2002 as Premier League clubs debate whether to close the window before the opening game of the season.
Not since the introduction of a summer and winter window over an open market until the final few months of the season has the way football’s transfers operate faced such a huge revamp – although could this sensible change on paper prove disastrous for the league that is so open to it?
This summer’s transfer window has been unlike any other with mega money flying around for seemingly any player that’s moved but in England it has been dominated by transfer sagas, mostly revolving around Virgil Van Dijk, Alexis Sanchez and most recently Phillippe Coutinho.
That Paulo-Coutinho fusion has even surpassed the Firminho one xD pic.twitter.com/lu1RuZvoHU
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) August 14, 2017
Should any of the three clubs lose either of those players with just over two weeks of the transfer window to go, leaving little time to bargain for an adequate replacement, it could prove disastrous to their seasons. But would the changes proposed really help those who complain most about their players being unsettled, with both Van Dijk and Coutinho handing in transfer requests?
With the majority of Europe’s big leagues all kicking off on different weekends of August, it’s impossible to set a defined date for when a season ‘starts’ and therefore this change would only affect clubs in the Premier League and would only prevent them from signing players after the Premier League season has started.
However, it doesn’t stop European teams (or EFL clubs for that matter) still attempting to sign the top players in England, like Coutinho or Sanchez who have both been courted by Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
Of course, Liverpool or Arsenal can easily refuse any offer on the table for their players but with ‘player power’ so rife in the game now, how easy is it to refuse a big money offer, especially when it seems obvious your player wants to leave?!
Should Coutinho leave now under the proposed rules, Jurgen Klopp has no chance of signing an adequate replacement until January and that seems unfair if not a bit nonsensical.
Away from just transfer sagas, though, the transfer window being open until the end of August helps clubs in many other ways.
Should a key player pick up a season-ending or long-term injury in the opening weeks it allows his club to use the market for a replacement, arguably this benefits the likes of Manchester City with their infinite resources more than say Burnley but the gesture remains the same and it can also allow a manager to actually see where his team are short in competitive action rather than just pre-season.
It’s also beneficial for players on the fringes, who can use the remaining weeks of the window to manufacture a move to a new club if they believe they’re no longer in the plans of their current team.
The proposal isn’t without merits, however, if the window was closed worldwide before the start of the season it may stop some of the unrest for some clubs’ players, for example, Barcelona’s chances of signing either Coutinho or Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele (who himself is suspended) would be over because they’d left it too late.
It would also mean managers would have to do their transfer business earlier on in the summer and plan even more strategically than before although some may argue that could lead to even bigger sums of money being thrown at players in attempts to get negotiations finished quicker rather than club’s trying to be more sensible with their funds.
For the new plans to come into place, 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs would have to agree with them but if only England’s elite league puts these changes in place it will only leave them vulnerable to clubs on the continent and would do little to stop the unrest of some of its biggest stars when the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid come knocking.