Underwhelming January transfer window indicative of a change of style



By David Bates, second year Ancient History student

For the first time since 2012, Premier League spending in the January transfer window fell, and the drop in expenditure was not of a small margin either.

Figures from the Sports Business Group at Deloitte show that this year’s window saw Premier League clubs splash £180m on new signings, a considerable decline from the £430m that was spent in January 2018. In fact, £150m was spent on deadline-day alone last year.

The obvious reason for the drop in expenditure this January has been due to the lack of money spent by the ‘big six’. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola both appear to be relatively content with their respective squads, and for good reasons too.

As for the two North London rivals, Arsenal’s business has been restricted to just loan additions, whilst Daniel Levy’s money has been directed towards Tottenham’s new stadium. Manchester United were never likely to give an interim manager huge money to spend, so it is of no surprise that there were no incomings at Old Trafford.

Chelsea are the exception to this, having brought Christian Pulisic in for £57.6m and Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus. That said, the biggest story at Stamford Bridge still revolves around one of their young stars, Callum Hudson-Odoi, staying as a Blue despite wanting to leave for German giants Bayern Munich.

The main narrative of the window has been one of key players staying put, rather than big names joining England’s top tier. Anthony Martial signed a new contract with Manchester United until 2024, with the option of extending it for a further year.

West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic also put pen to paper on a contract extension after much speculation that he would be moving abroad to China. The way that these stories have outshone the new additions to the Premier League reflect just how quiet the window indeed was.

The reduction of expenditure, according to Deloitte, is a result of the strongest ever financial position of Premier League Clubs.

This, therefore, meant that clubs were not required to sell their most valuable players to stay afloat financially. Clubs such as Watford have been able to keep hold of their prize possessions in Abdoulaye Doucoure and Gerard Deulofeu amidst strong interest from elsewhere.

This provides credibility to the point which Deloitte raises; the clubs outside the top six are now less likely to succumb to the financial superiority of the sides inside the top six. These clubs are now able to stand on their own two feet without having to sell.

In the footballing world of instant success being a necessity, this window has arguably shown the shift in nature of the pressure on Premier League managers.

With the sky-high price of footballers at the top level, if a club makes the mistake of spending a huge fee on a player who fails to succeed, then the consequences of that error of judgment can be very costly.

This window has demonstrated the tentative nature of the clubs and the managers, as the process of adding real quality to a squad is now one of real risk.

Newcastle have taken that gamble with the £20m acquisition of Paraguay playmaker Migeul Almiron; this is one that could very easily go either way for the Magpies, and it will be intriguing to see which direction it does go.

Deloitte also revealed that the ‘big six’ accounted for 43% of the January spending, which is down from 62% of last year’s figure. Moreover, the clubs occupying the bottom six spots at the end of January only spent £20m – this number was at £70m this time last year.

The overrated nature of deadline-day – largely fuelled by the excitement that Sky Sports News aims to portray – has been evident for a few years now. The deadline-day programme ramped up the drama of the day, but in reality it ended up being a damp squib.

This window has seen a profound shift in the nature of business amongst England’s elite clubs. Is this just an anomaly, or will we see a more cautious dynamic from the Premier League sides in time to come?

Featured image by Flickr / Mark Hakansson

Do you agree that the way clubs view the January transfer window is changing? Let us know your thoughts!

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