Robert Snodgrass, Andrew Lonergan and Amad Diallo are three of only four players who have made permanent moves to Premier League clubs so far this month
A disgraced wingers, a Substitute goalkeeper without a contract and a promising teenager who has never started a game in the A-League are responsible for three of only four permanent signings by the Premier League clubs in January.
With all the noise around the mid-season transfer window, Aston Villas Signed by Morgan Sanson from Marseille on Tuesday was the first example of a top club to bring a regular into the first team this month.
So why did so little happen?
“We are not one hundred percent sure what the rules are”
It has long been said that January is a difficult time for clubs to do business. This month was like no other, with external factors having a huge impact on the way deals are handled across the sport.
The combination of the coronavirus pandemic, which is severely limiting the clubs’ purchasing power, and the UK’s new relationship with the European Union after Brexit means that transfer deals have rarely, if ever, been this difficult.
A points-based system has been introduced for players from the EU that takes into account their experience and the level they have played at, while clubs in the UK cannot sign anyone under the age of 18 and no more than three years from the continent under 21. A player is required now at least 15 points to qualify, while a score of 10 to 14 is checked by an “exception committee”.
Great Britain left the European Customs Union and the European single market on December 31 last year
Travel restrictions imposed as part of the national lockdown have forced clubs to adopt a different approach this winter, with younger players likely to suffer the most.
“Covid is having a bigger impact on the market than Brexit at the moment,” says football agent Paul Stretford, whose client Wayne Rooney is. “The new rules, which are a re-edition of the old rules from before our membership in the EU, have only been expanded to include European players in addition to international players from outside Europe.
“The clubs that sign young European players to develop through their academy could well have the biggest impact.”
Queens Park Rangers’ football director Les Ferdinand said he approached the January window with caution, but a low budget meant activity was likely always minimal regardless of current issues.
“You can’t go out and watch any players,” he says. “A tool like Wyscout and all of these different media to use are great, but you have to look at them for yourself.
“You are dealing with not one problem, but two. Chances are this month will be heavily loaded with credit instead of people saying, ‘I’m going to buy this or that.’
“Brexit took a lot of countries off the radar for us, but we wouldn’t have made a lot of deals anyway. We’re not 100% sure what the rules are.
“There is a points system but nobody has been able to use it because nobody goes abroad to get players unless they are the best to go to the Premier League. Everyone knows who they are, but with younger ones Nobody gamblers. ” knows how it works because it hasn’t been deepened. “
John Print, executive director of sports consultancy Sprint MG, says he had to tell his clients that because of Brexit, English football is no longer a viable place for their careers.
“The number of European players who survived the new rules has definitely gone down,” he said. “We basically say to a lot of players,” Your opportunities to play in the UK are gone “and a lot of players don’t understand why, I think the most important thing is to educate the players so they realize that it is just not an option more.”
“British Citizenship Players Even More Expensive”
Some have argued that Brexit could lead to better development for local players as clubs have fewer opportunities to look into the distance.
Ferdinand says the current situation could force English Football League clubs to act on better scouting British players, but there is a chance other markets may emerge as well.
“Both of these current situations put you in a difficult position to make long-term commitments,” he says. “The only thing that comes out for the championship teams is that you have to develop younger players. Maybe that can happen in the longer term.
“There will be some emerging markets; the Brazilian market will be attractive for the championship. You have a lot of good young players, but it means going to Brazil and doing more of your scouting away from home.”
According to the print, the FA is making its goal of giving more English players opportunities.
“The point system is basically what I expected,” he says. “The FA’s mandate is simple: you want more English talent to develop. You want the path from EFL clubs to professional football, for example, to be easier because it benefits the whole system and ultimately the national team.”
Stretford says fewer options for clubs could result in UK players gaining in value while those from abroad decline.
“The criteria format means it’s harder to get in and that could have an impact on the devaluation of players from abroad. But I don’t think the clubs will accept British players just because they are British.”
“If you want to play for a top club, you have to be able to compete with top talent from all over the world.
“Players at the highest level who qualify under British citizenship may now be higher than they used to be because so many clubs will pursue so few at this level.”
“Creative recruiting is getting more and more difficult”
Teemu Pukki was relatively unknown in England when he moved to Norwich and led her to promotion to the Premier League in 2018/19
Clubs in Europe that have developed a strategy for selling assets to UK clubs will now find it difficult to do so due to the new points-based requirements.
Clubs from France, Portugal and the Netherlands will be hardest hit, according to Stretford.
“Certain markets that rely on the transfer system to meet budgets are affected,” he said. “You look mainly at France, outside of two or three clubs. The German model is strong, but not as strong as the Premier League.
“Portugal would be one, part of the Spanish market would be one, then you have what you would call your ‘second rate’ markets, like the Netherlands and Belgium, where a number of clubs are on a development and sales endeavor. They would like to sell their players to is the UK and so they are subject to the criteria and regulations. “
Print says English clubs will have trouble too.
“Brentford and Norwich City are very heavy stats recruiting and they pick some gems from sub-leagues,” he added. “Norwich’s Teemu Pukki would not be signed if he tried to get into that window. He would not have gotten anywhere near the points. It will be more difficult for teams trying to be more creative with recruiting.”