Transfer window quiet: has European football peaked?

As aficionados will be aware, we are in the middle of the football transfer window in a number of countries, during which time players are bought and sold between clubs. But this year it’s all rather quiet.

It’s usually a time of feverish expectation: will the latest young superstar go to Madrid or Milan? Who will that eccentric new billionaire owner splash out on this time? Can the old pro who has passed his peak manage one last big money move?

This year there are still major deals being struck, most notably the move by Bosnian player Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg in Germany to Manchester City for £27m. But overall the trend seems to be for loan moves and bargain-hunting rather than big-money buys.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s record transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid for £80m in 2009 looks unlikely to be beaten for some time.

European governing body UEFA is introducing a new “financial fair play” concept which requires clubs to break even in 2012. The regulations are a response not only to a time of financial crisis but also to the market disruption caused by wealthy club owners trying to buy success at any price.

While increased discipline in football finance is to be welcomed, the move to dampen the football market within Europe adds to the sense of a continent anxious about its future.

For many years now, European football clubs have been able to attract the best players from around the world. South American, African and, most recently, Asian players have moved to Europe to prove themselves against the best. The leagues of England, Italy and Spain between them provided a third of the players representing 32 nations at the 2010 World Cup.

With a growing economy and a World Cup to host in new stadiums in 2014, Brazilian clubs may gradually increase in appeal. The move by former World Cup winner Ronaldinho back to Flamengo is not in itself enough to signify a trend. The real test will come when attempts are made to lure emerging young players from Brazil to Europe in the next couple of years.

With two weeks left before the transfer window closes, there is still time for a flurry of dramatic moves but nobody seems to expect it. At the time of writing, the Sky Sports Transfer Centre has a series of frustrated news snippets about players not moving clubsThe £160m record transfer expenditure by Premier League clubs in January 2009 already seems a long time ago.

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1 Comment


Rowland Jack

I was wrong. After a flurry of late deals on deadline day, the 2009 record for Premier League spending during the January Transfer Window has been smashed. Whether the £218m or more paid by clubs for players has been spent wisely remains to be seen.

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