As a football fan, the transfer window can be a double-edged sword. Whilst we all nod our heads obligingly when Hodgson or Holloway or Redknapp moan about the impact it can have (especially in terms of turning heads and keeping your best players), one of the best days of the football season comes on August 31st, when the clubs try to cover the shortfall in their squads in a 24-hour adrenalin-fuelled fire sale, when fans (myself included) click refresh every three minutes in the vain hope that their clubs has managed to pull off some kind of strategic transfer masterstroke that not even the press saw coming.
With the season just weeks old, the window brings some early excitement, and the possibility of building for the future. Once it slams shut you are stuck with what you’ve got until January, which can make those winter nights seem very long indeed (just ask Arsene Wenger!)
All of which means that, whilst fans are secretly hoping that our club’s transfer activity doesn’t stop until 23:59 on the last day in August, managers want their transfer negotiations over as soon as is physically possible, which is how the best clubs do it.
Barcelona announced their new marquee signing just days after walking off with the title, with Neymar’s arrival possibly heralding a new era of tika-taka that is less reliant on a certain little Argentinean being on top form. His wages for the summer will tot up to a couple of million pounds, even before he has kicked a ball for the Blaugrana, but it’s worth paying the extra money simply to get him installed in the squad, and having a good pre-season.
Manchester United started their buying back in January, when they completed the signing of Wilfried Zaha from Palace and then loaned him back. A starring role in the Playoffs final (and for England when he made his debut) prove that United have a great player on their hands, and one who will definitely add to a squad that already includes wingers such as Young, Nani and Valencia. They will no doubt buy again (depending on the Rooney saga) but have got their first man in as soon as is physically possible.
Despite being classed as a Ligue 2 club until the table and fixtures are refreshed on the 1st July, Monaco have perhaps had the most startling impact on the transfer market so far, with over 100m euros already splurged on some top-class players. Rodriguez was being linked to United, Moutinho is a solid addition in centre-midfield (and the right age), whilst Falcao would walk into practically every football team in the whole world! By getting in early they have managed to prove their ambition to other (perhaps less high-profile) players, and have generated a buzz about the town and the team. More top players should follow, though possibly more for tax-reasons that because they want to play for Monaco!
With two of the world’s best players (in Falcao and Neymar) already having signed for new clubs, you have to wonder how many other genuinely world class players are going to be on the move this summer. From a list of the top 10 players in the world at the moment you would count on the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Ibrahimovic, Benzema and RVP to be staying with their clubs. By my reckoning that only leaves Rooney and Cavani up for grabs.
Both Chelsea and City are yet to install their managers, or work out a coherent transfer strategy, which begs the question – have they already left it too late?
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