As the European domestic season starts drawing to a close and the summer months are approaching, it’s only natural that along with the weather, the transfer rumors are heating up as well. With ‘big’ clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United not only all underachieving this season, but also undergoing managerial changes, or rumors of managerial changes, the words being thrown around these clubs’ summer plans have been buy buy buy.
In previous years that’s exactly what these clubs would have done. They’d target a player, and if they wanted him that bad no amount of money would stand in their way of getting him.
But this season? Well this season it’s a lot more complicated.
This summer the transfer market is going to be different then we’ve ever seen it before for a whole bunch of reasons. For starters there’s that new TV contract that’s about to kick in not only in England but in Germany as well. In Germany Bayern Munich will still be the richest club in the land, but the rest of the clubs will have substantially more money than they used to which could make them bigger players in the market. In England, well the new money will make all 20 Premier League clubs about the richest clubs in the world.
While you may think that more teams having money will just mean more teams are able to pay the exorbitant sums that clubs are now seeking for players but in truth the opposite will occur. With each club bringing in more money teams will be less likely to sell as they won’t need they will have less need for the massive payday.
Then there’s the Leicester City factor. Every team in the world just watched Leicester City win the most competitive league in the world by building a team over the span of a few years with very cheap value signings. At this point the how much did Leicester’s starting XI cost storyline has been beaten to the ground but it rings true. Even when they reached the Premier League in 2014 they resisted the urge to make big money signings, instead sticking for the most part with the guys they have.
Right below them in the table right now is Tottenham. I won’t sit here and say Spurs haven’t spent any money but the money they have spent over the past few years has been on very young players. They sit in second place right now despite having the youngest starting XI in the league.
Hell, if it wasn’t for Louis van Gaal stumbling into his academy and finding Marcus Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, and Tim Fosu-Mensah Manchester United wouldn’t even be fighting for fourth place.
Don’t think that teams haven’t noticed this. Football, like all sports, is a copycat business. Teams see what the successful ones are doing and try to emulate them.
So how will this all effect the upcoming summer.
For starters teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United don’t have the advantage that they used to. We’re no longer going to be seeing the best players and biggest names leaving their clubs. In previous years if someone like Riyad Mahrez came along it was all but guaranteed he’d be playing for United, Chelsea, or City the following year. Not anymore. Leicester won’t be selling Mahrez because they don’t need to sell him. With the influx of money coming in Leicester can use it not on transfer fees but to simply give their star players bigger contracts so they don’t want to leave.
With Chelsea and Manchester City changing managers there’s also been a lot of talk about roster upheaval. This is also far easier said than done the way it was in previous years. One of the side effects of the Premier League having so much money is the players make a lot of money. Manchester City and Chelsea now have plenty of expensive players that no one in England wants. If those players left England they’d see their wages drop significantly. Therefore many of them don’t want to leave, even if they’re out of favor with their managers.
We’ve seen this happen a lot recently, specifically in Manchester. When Louis van Gaal took over Manchester United the club had a lot of trouble getting rid of players like Nani and Anderson, who simply made so much money they didn’t want to leave. City has run into the same problem with Edin Dzeko and Steven Jovetic. It’s often solved with loan moves where the parent club retains most of the salary but teams can still only take on so many new expensive contracts, especially when you consider UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.
Transfers like the £25 and £36 million Manchester United spent on unproven youngsters Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial last summer will continue to happen, in fact they’ll probably increase this summer. The big clubs will still have an advantage in that field because a flop like Memphis won’t set them back the way it would a smaller club.
But when it comes to instant fixes, those aren’t as easy anymore and Chelsea and City are about to find that out. The big names aren’t going to be available either because teams won’t have room for them, or more likely their clubs won’t want to sell them.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how this all plays out this summer. It’s not going to be a one off either, this is going to become the new normal.