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Between the Lines: Does Wenger's idea of scrapping the January transfer window make sense? 

Southampton v Arsenal - Premier League
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants changes to the transfer window
Rohith Nair
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Modified 05 Sep 2017
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Arsene Wenger rarely lays bare his innermost thoughts when there's a microphone in his face. The Arsenal boss is very guarded at press conferences and hardly ever gives the media a lot to chew on apart from the usual complaints after a loss that have become quite weary of late.

But every once in a while, he does pour his soul out in a conversation that doesn't necessarily involve Arsenal. The man loves to talk about the game (he is a football purist at heart after all) and he never backs down from weighing in on matters both on and off the pitch.

Wenger weighs in on the effects of the January transfer window

Recently, he sat down for an exclusive interview with beIN Sports where he was asked to give his opinion on the transfer window and the Frenchman spoke at length about the problems that plague football managers in the modern game today.

"The players who do not play or the players who are tapped up in October; they already start again to think, 'Where do I go in January?' That’s not a way to be on board with a football club. I believe we have to realise that."

First things first. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that he's talking about Alexis Sanchez here.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League
Alexis Sanchez failed to secure a move to Manchester City on deadline day

The Chilean forward was linked with Manchester City throughout the summer transfer window and looked all set to join Pep Guardiola's side before a deadline day deal was scuppered due to the lack of a top quality replacement.

“I believe that we have to bring some decency [to the game]. We all complain today that it has become too much [a] business, but we can do something about it. We have that responsibility in the game.”

As much as Wenger drones on and on about expecting players to give 100% till the final day of their contract, it simply does not work like that. In a manner of speaking, Wenger is protecting his own interests here.

In the case of Alexis, the player has clearly had enough of the north London club. Despite having the best season of his career in 2016/17, all he had to show for it was an FA Cup and qualification for the Europa League as Arsenal finished fifth in the Premier League.

Wenger is also resigned to losing players to clubs with deeper pockets. Financial Fair Play has not helped bridge the divide, it has only widened the gap. His Emirates Stadium project conceived in the early 2000s has gone up in smoke following the arrival of super-rich owners using existing rules to their advantage to build a firm foundation to compete for trophies.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League
Mesut Ozil has not extended his contract and is a free agent next summer

The problem now is that Wenger's ideas are sometimes far too idealistic. He has had more than a decade to align himself and the club with the direction football is now taking. The ever-changing economy demanded that clubs evolve to stay in the race for trophies.

Nobody is asking him to break the club's long-standing tradition of spending within their means and break the bank for someone like Kylian Mbappe. But Arsenal's troubles run deeper and Wenger cannot hide behind complaints about rules no longer working in his favour.

It is his job to build the team and create an atmosphere conducive to success, ensuring world class players such as Alexis and Mesut Ozil have the personnel around them to succeed. The malaise seeping into this squad and board is the only reason why they haven't extended their contracts.

Wenger wants the transfer window closed until season ends

The veteran manager also spoke about how the transfer window should be closed before the season gets underway.

“The ideal situation would be to have a transfer period that is closed 48 hours before the first game of the championship (league campaign) and to close it completely until after the season.”

What Wenger is suggesting here is to completely scrap the winter transfer window in January. This has its pros and cons.

Pros: Players will have no choice but to play for their current club for the rest of the season. This is what Wenger wants - players focused on their club and not future destination.

They will have all the time in the world to choose another club when the summer window opens at the end of the season.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League
Wenger signed Andrei Arshavin in the winter of 2008/09

Cons: Scenarios at clubs always change. For example: what if an injury crisis requires new players to come in and save the club's campaign? Clubs are only allowed to make emergency goalkeeper signings outside a transfer window. It does not apply to outfield players.

And what if a player that has been benched for six months has an opportunity to get game time elsewhere? Does he wait an entire year without minutes under his belt before moving on?

And most leagues in other countries (or even continents) run in a calendar year. The schedule is not aligned with Europe's top leagues. Do those players sit around for six months waiting to sign for a new club?

While clubs rarely make major signings in January, most managers would rather have the option to do so rather than lose it entirely.

However, Wenger does have a point about closing the window before the season gets underway. That is a sentiment shared by a number of managers.

Transfer deadline day madness has caused more problems for managers than solutions. Players and their agents leave it till the last minute before forcing through a transfer leaving little time for clubs to sign a replacement.

Also read: Premier League clubs to vote on closing transfer window before season begins

This year, it was not just Wenger who wasn't sure his best players would be around in September. Liverpool almost lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona but stood firm in the face of ever-increasing bids. PSG managed to hold off Barcelona who tried their best to sign Angel Di Maria.

But again, if the transfer window closes before the start of the season, the 48-hour period will not help as each league does not kick off on the same day.

The rule only makes sense if the deadline day is the same for all leagues. Else, leagues that kick off later will have an advantage in the market.

Published 05 Sep 2017
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