Why this football transfer window will be unlike any in recent memory?
- The upcoming summer transfer window would be different from any other due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- With an eye to minimising their financial losses, clubs would be forced to take at innovative ways to bolster their squads.
The month of May couldn’t have started on a better note for football fans across the globe. Bundesliga action is resuming on 16th May. Serie A is planning to resume football on the 13th of June, subject to Government approval. The Premier League too, is planning to get the football wheels churning in the country. But while football is set to take centre stage yet again, fans are keeping one eye on the transfer window.
This time around, fans wouldn’t even have to wait for a week or two to dive into transfer speculations. The transfer window might be already active as the remainder of the football season gets completed. In such a scenario, clubs across various European leagues would have to deal with a tricky situation ahead.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, clubs have already lost a few hundred thousand bucks due to no live football. During the same time, however, the wages of the players and staff haven’t reduced and there has been the additional responsibility of players' medical safety.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Football Transfer Window:
Every season, clubs – big or small, aim to improve their squads, and the transfer window offers them the chance to do just that.
The COVID-19 outbreak, though, has meant that the finances of the football industry have taken a major hit. Rumour mills in this transfer window are abuzz about Neymar heading back to FC Barcelona or Real Madrid preparing to make a bumper move to sign Kylian Mbappe.
But such is the financial situation of the clubs now that many high-profile signings are being contemplated again and talks are being put on hold. Most clubs have resorted to the ‘wait and watch’ approach.
However, despite everything, neither football would wait nor would the transfers stop. Clubs would have to chalk out ways of bolstering their squads without overburdening their finances. In such a case, what are the options clubs would have in adding new players to their squads during the upcoming transfer window?
How would clubs transfer players during the upcoming transfer window?
Focus on Youth System
It is quite an obvious choice! The COVID-19 epidemic might just prove to be a blessing in disguise for youth academies of football academies to promote their homegrown talent.
The youth setups of AFC Ajax, Anderlecht, Bayern Munchen, FC Barcelona and Sporting CP have traditionally churned out world-class talents for several decades. Even in England, some of the graduates of Chelsea, Southampton, West Ham and Manchester United youth setups have gone ahead to achieve legendary status in Europe. Lately, Liverpool FC have also been able to spring up exciting prospects such as Trent Alexander Arnold and Curtis Jones.
While European giants would still be able to make big signings thanks to their financial muscle, we may see more academy graduates getting involved in senior team setups. Chelsea's academy players like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Kurt Zouma and Billy Gilmour have already impressed the Premier League fan fraternity with their displays this season.
Bringing in academy players would help the clubs in ways more than one. It would not only save millions of bucks but would also ensure that not much time is wasted for the players settling into the squad. The academy players are aware of a club’s football culture at the senior level. They know how the senior team plays and the communication bridge is already established.
Make-or-Break Loan Deals
Loan deals could be very interesting in this transfer window. European heavyweights such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus may want to retain their non-regular players, develop them and give them game-time instead of sending them out on loan stints . On the other hand, smaller clubs may not have the financial liberty to buy players and would look at their European big brothers for letting the latter's prospects go out on loan deals.
Liverpool’s case is a classic example. AS Roma are hovering over Dejan Lovren's signature for a while. While that would leave Klopp’s Liverpool with only three senior centre-backs, the mercurial German would also have to take a call over the future of Nathaniel Phillips.
The English centre-back has made twenty appearances for VfB Stuttgart and is still gaining experience in Bundesliga 2. If Liverpool decides to let Lovren leave, there are chances that Nat Phillips might be asked to stay with the first team. Stuttgart, on the other hand, would want to have Lovren back, albeit on loan, for yet another season.
There are similar examples of a lot of other teams in Europe. Although it is not a unique problem and such scenarios often crop up every season, the financial hit due to the COVID-19 outbreak would make this transfer window an interesting one.
Pricey Free Transfers
All the clubs would be keeping an eye on the contract issues of their prospective targets, and the most lucrative of them all would be the free transfers available in the transfer window. They may not be plenty in numbers, but then, it is about quality more than quantity.
A lot of talented players would be leaving their current employers after abiding their contract timelines. These players would then be looking for interesting projects to be involved with during the upcoming seasons.
We may see interesting tussles between clubs as they lock horns to get the signature of their player of choice. Dries Mertens, a proven forward in Europe, is being eyed by a lot of clubs to get him on their roster. Adam Lallana is also reportedly being eyed by his ex-boss Brendan Rodgers to join him at the King Power Stadium.
Clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Juventus who are traditionally not considered as the big spenders in the transfer market could well find themselves in a familiar situation. During the upcoming transfer window, they might be eyeing the likes of Mario Gotze, Edinson Cavani, Dries Mertens, Thomas Meunier and Ryan Fraser to bolster the firepower in their squads.
The coming summer transfer window could well be the game-changer for several clubs. Some of the clubs might just find their very own Class of ’92 that could be the regulars in their first team for years to come.
There is also a possibility that clubs might strike gold with their free transfer business. Whichever way it may work out, the summer transfer window of 2020/21 season is going be a significant one in the longer run, in the context of how much weightage clubs would give to the options in front of them.