During the last few months we were treated to endless tabloid tales of players going here there and everywhere. Yet Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, John Stones etc. are in exactly the same colors this term as they were last.
We saw arguably the two most storied clubs in the world, Real Madrid and Manchester United, humiliated. The collapse of the David De Gea/Keylor Navas deal having left the front office of each club looking incompetent, while United coach, Louis van Gaal, seemed perplexed and powerless throughout the whole saga.
We saw players have their heads turned by the prospect of glamor moves to bigger clubs that never materialized. Indeed, West Bromwich Albion forward, Saido Berahino, is reportedly on strike at the time of writing after the Baggies blocked his proposed move to Tottenham.
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We saw coaches and managers uncertain of their squad two, three and four games into the season. And we’ve seen fans left with worthless merchandise after their favorite player pulled a Kevin de Bruyne, and swapped shirts at the 11th hour.
Ultimately, the window is flawed on so many levels. So why not change it? For a start, closing the window before the start of the season in all the major European soccer nations is a no brainer. I doubt there are many clubs who’d contest that one.
Secondly, why not borrow elements from the American draft system and condense the window into just a few days?
Here’s how it would work:
- Ahead of each transfer window all available players would be registered by their current club as up for sale. Details of their price, personal terms and other requirements would be previously negotiated and circulated to potential buyers.
- The event would then proceed, not as an auction, but as a straight sale at a predetermined price.
- If more than one club bid for the same player, then it would be up to him to choose where to go. No additional financial incentives would be permitted.
- Players going unsold because they’re unwanted or overvalued could go on offer in a secondary sale after revealing their reduced price. Alternatively, the player could stay put with his club and see out his current contract.
- To help those clubs needing to sell in order to buy, the sale would be arranged in a tier system with the least expensive players on offer first.
The new system would be more efficient, since all the work would be done in advance, and quicker, as all the transfers would be completed in days.
The change would also remove some of the guesswork, as clubs and players could arrive with their budgets, agendas, and back-up plans already in place. Players, or their agents, could no longer play one club off against another in search of the most lucrative deal, potentially slowing the current trend in spiraling transfer fees.
Additionally, players would also have a hand in assessing their own worth. Clubs could price unwanted players competitively. Media speculation would diminish as availability, price and terms would be common knowledge.
Lastly, a concentrated window would create a media spectacle, with managers, agents, players, and maybe even fans gathering for a transfer extravaganza.
No solution is perfect, but 13 years in to the current transfer system and there are still major issues. It looks like time for a change.