Monday, 19 July 2010

The 2010 Summer Transfer Window: Why has there been so little activity?

Around lunchtime today the news broke that Joe Cole had just signed for Liverpool on a four-year deal. This signing is, however, a rare moment of significance in this summer's transfer window. The biggest shop window was open for a month in South Africa but had few managers tempted to dip into their pockets for any of the talents on display.

Joe Cole, like many of the players to have changed clubs so far this summer, moved on a free transfer after his contract at Chelsea had expired. Liverpool certainly got a good deal by beating various other clubs to Cole's signature, especially when you consider that Chelsea got Yossi Benayoun going in the other direction.

Hodgson had already signalled his intent to create a new-look squad at Anfield by allowing peripheral members of the team to leave in order to create room to introduce new faces. Bringing in the likes of Joe Cole should also help the new manager to keep Gerrard and Torres from jumping ship. Now that Cole's future has been confirmed, it is possible that transfer activity will increase as clubs look elsewhere.

Nevertheless, aside from Joe Cole's move, the current transfer window has been a subdued one. Perhaps the lesson of buying players based purely on an above-average performance in a World Cup has finally been learnt. Perhaps the recession has truly hit the football world.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the dangerous precedent that has been set by the super rich clubs over the last five-or-so years has finally comeback to haunt managers. The inflated price tags placed on run-of-the-mill footballers now because of the willingness of teams like Chelsea, Real Madrid or Manchester City to spend well above reasonable prices has meant that players who are good value for money are like silver needles in a very large, over-rated and over-paid stack of hay.

Big name signings have been few and far between. Villa's move to Barcelona, Di Maria's transfer to Real Madrid and Manchester City's signing of Yaya Toure, David Silva and Jerome Boateng have been a few of the scarce cases involving big names moving for big money. Ozil, one of the few players to attract the attention of top European clubs on the back his dazzling campaign in South Africa, is among the list of players who remain in the daily transfer rumour columns.

Inter Milan's Balotelli supposed move to Manchester City and Fabregas' potential move back to Barcelona are two of the other ongoing transfer sagas that stand out amongst the repetitive, and most likely unsubstantiated, transfer gossip. Real Madrid seem to be linked with every left back available, Gordon Strachan seems determined to take every Scottish professional footballer to the glorious town of Middlesbrough, while Manchester City seem to be linked with any half decent player going.

There may have been fewer transfer stories dominating the back pages than we have become use to and - with the asking prices you read about it - that is hardly surprising. James Milner, Carlton Cole, Phil Jagielka and Steven Piennar have been on the wish lists of several managers but the ambitious valuations of these players by their respective clubs have scuppered their proposed moves.

Manchester United, apart from the already agreed signing of Mexican Javier Hernandez and Fulham's Chris Smalling, have opted out of making any big money signings, despite their ageing side. Liverpool and Arsenal have also been reluctant to meet the unrealistic prices quoted for some of their targets while the likes of Aston Villa, Tottenham and Everton are yet to make any noteworthy additions to their squads.

There is, of course, still four weeks until the Premiership gets under-way and players will inevitably move around before the first weekend of fixtures. This does not change the fact that with 19 days already gone, transfer activity has been minimal, certainly in comparison to years gone by. Eastlands aside, it seems that the influx of foreign talent into England has slowed considerably this summer.

Whether it is the finances or the lure of the Premiership that has seemingly dipped is hard to say. Perhaps the next month will correct the pattern. Alternatively, this could mark a shift away from the big spending on foreign players, although it is undoubtedly premature to try support such a claim. If we do start to see less players enter the Premiership from overseas then this could give a glimmer of hope to the young English talent struggling to emerge out of the darkness of youth and reserve squads at clubs up and down the country.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...

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