Saturday, June 19, 2021
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The latest football news from 90 Minutes Online

The January Blues

Andy Carroll & Kenny DaglishWith their only being about eleven months until Christmas it seems that we are a long way from any of the festivities that make winter bearable. But, alas, at least we do have some meaty football news to enjoy.

 

 

As with angry sale shoppers elbowing you in the face in a desperate attempt to get a discounted Sanctuary bath set from Boots, January brings with it the transfer window. But unlike its warmer cousin, the summer transfer window, winter’s transfer period is a cavalcade of panic buys and complex issues that make it a much tougher climate for our football managers to navigate.

 

Everything is different in January for one simple reason. No one really wants to sell a player during this month. Managers and Chairmen have spent the summer assembling their squads with the idea that they would at least get them through the season. If a club are looking to sell it’s because a player has become a problem. A Mario Balotelli/Ravel Morrison ‘too difficult a character to handle’ kind of problem. Some managers may be willing to sell, but no one really wants to.

 

Take Spurs for example. They have fringe players like Aaron Lennon and Paulinho who have been linked with moves away, and Spurs may be willing to sell as they already have with Kyle Naughton. But there is a difference between willingness and desire. Spurs aren’t shopping these players around. Mauricio Pochettino himself said that he would like to keep this huge squad together as Spurs are fighting on four fronts and don’t want to be left short-handed, no one does. Because, with everyone being so unwilling to sell, player prices are at a premium.

 

If you sell a player in January you will receive an inflated fee for him, but you will be expected to pay over the odds for a replacement or otherwise continue through the business end of the season wanting. No one is willing to sell because replacements are so expensive and replacements are so expensive because no one is willing to sell. It’s a loop that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.

 

It’s this kind of price inflation that has led to a slightly above average player in Wilfried Bony becoming the fourth most expensive striker in Premier League history. It’s also interesting to note that, of the three ahead of him on that list, two (Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres) moved on the last day of the January transfer window.

 

Desperation had kicked in on that one fateful transfer deadline day and all of a sudden £110million pounds had been spent on Carroll, Torres and Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan now seems a good (albeit hungry) piece of business, but the other two didn’t come close to living up to their bloated price tags.

 

And just to make matters worse, clubs are walking a tight rope when it comes to player contracts. It’s the kind of tight rope that West Ham are walking right now with one of their most prized assets. New Zealand born centre back Winston Reid has been one of their stand out players in what is so far a fantastic season for the Hammers. But he has left them with a challenging dilemma.

 

Reid is out of contract in the summer and it appears that he will not be signing a new one. What do West Ham do now? They could sell him immediately, cashing in while they still can. Although this would mean losing one of their most influential players while they are still very much in the hunt for European places.

 

With the January transfer window being what it is they would do well to replace him. Or do they dig their heels in, keep him for the season and then see him leave for nothing in the summer? At 26 years old Reid is in his prime and West Ham are not backed by some wealthy sheikh from a faraway land, you would have to question if they can afford to let millions of pounds literally and figuratively walk out of the door.

 

James Milner, Glen Johnson, Emmanuel Adebayor, Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph, Youssuf Mulumbu, Danny Ings. These are just a few of the players who are at least rumoured to be out of contract during the summer.

 

Surely even a club like Man City, with financial fair play rules starting to become a factor, would want to recoup some of the £24million they spent on James Milner. Can Burnley afford to let their star striker Danny Ings leave in the summer without receiving a penny for him? Can they afford to lose him half way through a season where relegation from the world’s most lucrative league hangs in the balance?

 

I don’t think that anything has been said here that managers the world over don’t already know. But panic will set in and these transfer dealings will be rushed into anyway. All you can do is sit back, enjoy the transfer action and hope that it’s not your club that end up with a £50million dud.

 

 

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