Later this week, the summer transfer window will shut after the start of the Premier League season for perhaps the last time. In September top-flight clubs will vote on a motion which, if implemented, would see the market close for business prior to the on-field action getting under way. According to the latest reports, it is highly likely that a majority of sides will back the rule change.
There are clearly advantages to the proposed new structure, which many within the game have called for for a number of years. Forcing clubs to do their transfer business early would mean that teams have settled squads – at least until the January window – and would give managers a sense of security once the football has begun. The current or recent sagas involving the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez, for instance, would have to be resolved one way or another before a ball has been kicked in the Premier League. On a more personal level, it would also be pleasing to see the seemingly endless transfer coverage put to a stop once the actual football has recommenced.
There is, however, a glaring problem with this potential change: it would only apply to domestic deals. Indeed, while Premier League clubs would be forbidden from adding to their squads after the first match of the campaign, there would be nothing to stop foreign outfits swooping in and bringing England-based stars to their own leagues. To put it in the context of this summer, Liverpool would be unable to sign a replacement for Philippe Coutinho should the Brazil international join Barcelona.
The ideal solution would be to implement a universal transfer window which closes nearer the start of August rather than at the end of it. In reality, though, this would be extremely difficult. La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga tend to get started later than the Premier League, while many countries across the globe – China, Brazil and the United States, to name but three – operate to very different football calendars. Agreeing on a single date for the entire globe would be nigh on impossible.
The general idea of ending the transfer window before the season is a good one, but the fact it would only apply to domestic moves means this would not be a complete solution to the problems that exist under the current arrangement.