It is an accepted fact that most earth-shattering transfers and seismic moves go through only in the summer. January is a time when most clubs prefer to keep their best players as they are in the middle of a campaign which has some goals to achieve. However, even with those lower standards, this season’s January window has been remarkably quiet.
There hasn’t been a single “marquee” transfer and most clubs have been relegated to just moving out players in the fringes or the odd loan for an incoming.
So, why has it been happening and could it be a sign of things to come? Let’s take a look-
The stringent financial rules
As explained in an earlier article about Financial Fair Play and Profit and Sustainability rules, in the case of the Premier League in particular, the clubs are getting wary of those.
The preceding three-year period for which accounts are calculated no longer has COVID years under it, which means the margin for error which was relaxed is back to regular levels.
Combining that with actual, tangible punishments leaving clubs like Everton in ruins has made clubs a lot more wary of these rules. A signing in January is just not worth the potential 10 points deduction which could cost them millions from dropped places in the league.
Bubble is bursting
Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 broke something in world football finances. Suddenly, transfer fees in triple figures became the norm rather than the exception.
However, with broadcast rights over the world plateauing and COVID-19 ravaging the finances, the after-effects are being felt now.
The Premier League was the runaway leader in terms of money spent even in the summer. The 20th-placed team in England earns more than the Serie A champions.
This has created an imbalance in the market where the money and salary English clubs can spend can’t be matched by anyone.
The domino effect of this is when these clubs try to offload their players. A player like Anthony Martial will never find a taker because nobody can match his wages. Similar is the case for many in England.
Fringe players in England are paid like superstars elsewhere and that makes transfers impossible. The ultimate result is that when PL clubs start penny-pinching, as they have in January, the whole market goes to sleep.
Therefore, expect this January to become the norm going forward because the current football landscape no longer has the concept of “bargains”, especially for elite clubs. Gone are the days when United would sign a Patrice Evra or a Nemanja Vidic from outside a top-five league and they would become stalwarts.
With capitalism driving more and more revenue and the demand for results being quick and easy, everyone is shopping at the same high-end store. Ultimately, they’ll either run out of money or the shop will have no products left.