I always found them fascinating but reading their breaking news these days really is something else.
I’m not against having some fun with rumours about this or that guy but you do need a fair share of creativity to be doing that when nobody knows how football will be when it resumes.
The only thing we know for sure, at the moment, is that Clubs are losing tons on money and most of them really don’t seem to know in which form they will exists when normal football restarts, assuming they will still exist.
Yet, we’re saturated with breaking news about the Arsenal allegedly ready to dish out millions of pounds to acquire Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid, who will most certainly demand sky-high wages, while also inquiring about other very expensive players around the globe.
Perhaps we will end signing the guy, because football really is a crazy business, but I strongly doubt it and should we pull the deal through, it would be unlike any other transfer business we did until now.
Football as we know it might well be a thing of the past already: with no actual plan to resume football at all, main broadcasters might see that as a breach in the cumulated 3.4 billion pounds contracts signed with the Premier League, which would be a massive hit for any Club’s finances; likewise, the loss of income from gates will bit them, as mass-gatherings like being in a stadium in close contact with thousands of other people might not be possible for another few months, well beyond the usual start of a new season.
Clubs will have to find ways to generate income to keep existing really, and will surely reduce their spending to the very bare necessities.
Even assuming that football will restart and Clubs will somehow manage to generate some income, would they still be able to pay crazy money for a player?
I don’t think so.
The market, going forward, could very much look like what we see in American sports, where no money is exchanged but players are traded in large numbers (dare I say in bulk?) or are signed as free agents.
While the latter option is already becoming more and more à la mode now that players and agents are realizing how much more leverage they have, compared to Clubs, the former option could become the new reality.
I’ve been watching some NBA basketball since my teenage days and I always found very fascinating how one player would move to a different franchise in exchange of three, four or sometimes five players from the other franchise.
It was part of the exotic side of the NBA, for someone who grew in football.
I was in New Orleans one year ago and attended the game between the Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors, a truly meaningless, end of the regular season game, but I’m still checking on them since and I was chuckling when the news broke that Anthony Davies was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange of three players and three picks in the coming years drafts – for a total of six players in exchange of one.
If you set aside the drafts, it could very well be the way forward for the Premier League
What would be the consequences?
I believe it would depend on whether a salary cap for Clubs is implemented or not, an idea that has been doing the rounds for some years; if it is the case, then the players’ value would be flattened down and Clubs will start thinking in wages only as opposed to fees plus wages.
On paper, the salary cap is another rule meant to make football more fair to non-sugar-daddy-owned Clubs but, given how the FFP was set and immediately worked around by some Clubs, I don’t expect much.
It could be a very interesting idea but equally challenging to enforce.
I can definitely see something happening for large swap-deals between Clubs, though: soon we could be reading headlines reporting that the Arsenal is ready to trade in Thomas Partey and Mario Hermoso in exchange of Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira and Folarin Bagolun, while Manchester City gets Vinicius Junior from Real Madrid in exchange of Leroy Sané, John Stones and one lad from the Academy, at choice.
It could take some time to digest as it would drastically change the way we, supporters, judge the players: nowadays, a player that comes in for a big fee carries a huge burden on his shoulders (Nicolas Pépé, anyone?) and the hefty price of his transfer is constantly brought to the table when assessing his performances.
Tomorrow, with no price tag attached, we might actually judge a player by his performances on the pitch. Shocking!
What would you think of a system like this?