How will transfer market look in the post-COVID world?

How will transfer market look in the post-COVID world?
In years gone by, agents would be constantly on their phones fielding calls left, right and centre from clubs with offers for their clients and they would be negotiating aggressively to try and thrash out the best personal terms. Managers on the other hand, would keep their cards close to their chest and more often than not, flatly deny speculation linking their prized asset with a move away from their club. But in this post-COVID world, there is likely to be a seismic shift in attitude towards the transfer market.

Premier League clubs have routinely been used to spending exorbitant sums of money to land some of the game's biggest talents. Across Europe, teams weren't afraid to flex their financial muscle in past windows to pull off some marquee deals. Paris Saint-Germain has been a case in point as they spent an eye-watering £197million to bring Neymar from Barcelona in 2017 while they lured Kylian Mbappe from Monaco in the same year for £166m.

But the coronavirus pandemic has shaken football to its core and it has ravaged the finances of clubs in a way many would have scarcely believed.

It is expected that Premier League clubs could be set for collective losses of a £1billion this financial year. Within that, £350m may be haemorrhaged in match day revenues as supporters are unlikely to return to stadiums this season due to social distancing measures and games will be played behind closed doors.

Although Chelsea have started their business early and completed two deals this summer as they spent £47.5m to recruit Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and £36m to prise Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, there will be a reluctance on the part of the top clubs to embark on big shopping sprees.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has already admitted his side don't have the unlimited resources that some of their rivals possess. Instead, he will focus on doing "some little important things" which would suggest that there will be more of an emphasis on securing bargain deals.

Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has given a clear hint of his side's approach to the summer and he has indicated City may curtail their spending habits.

Last week he said: "I don't know after coronavirus if the situation for clubs financially has changed. We are going to see at the end of this season.

"In all the places I was - Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here - if the club says 'we cannot afford it', then we cannot afford it.

"It depends if people stay. Maybe in these next two months, the teams makes a step forward and we decide to continue with the same people."

For a long time, transfer fees have been highly inflated and don't accurately reflect the true worth of a player.

Realistically, it seems like there will be deals done, but perhaps with not the same readiness or appetite shown in years gone by. Loan deals are likely to be struck and the powerhouses may hold back on trying to sign their main transfer targets for at least a year.

Although FIFA has shown flexibility as the Premier League's transfer window is set to open on July 26 and close in October, this will be a window like no other. It will be very much a case of watch this space!

 

Written by Charles Perrin

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