About The Game

The awkward nature of the January transfer window

West Ham has a problem. An expensive one and coming at the worst possible time.

They need to sort out the Dimitri Payet situation  and the only way to do it is to sell him. The french maestro does not want to play for the club anymore.

It is not that like West Ham is the only clue that has issues to resolve this winter. The January transfer window presents a few of those for other clubs as well.

In England, this time of the season is especially tough for doing big deals. And they haven’t happen again – no surprise on this. If you represent a top club that chases a top player, you just don’t sign him in January unless the domino effect strikes.

Remember 2011? Chelsea signed Torres from Liverpool and paid 50 mln. pounds, just 48 hours before the transfer windows closed on 31st January. The player and agents have forced the move in a very similar way as Payet and his associates are doing today. Liverpool needed to act, so they bought Andy Carroll  just few hours before the deadline and paid 35 mln. pounds. A deal that came as emergency more than some form of long designed strategy. It didn’t work well.

January is traditional very complicated month in the Premier League’s football. Clubs have to play 6 to 9 games with the FA cup 3rd and 4th rounds on the schedule. Some are involved in League cup semi-finals.

Within 31 days, team have only 2  to 3 days between games. It is a crazy schedule, there is not time to recover. It is hardly a good time to bring a big names in.

One needs to come, pass a medical, do all the media stuff with one’s new manager. The clubs’ focus change a bit and everyone spends a lot of time and energy working on transfers, instead focusing on the next game.

On top of that any newcomer, even the top players need to adapt to the new club and the new environment. Players move to a new home and on many occasions they do light training sessions only as there is not a lot of time to serious training in January, with its tight schedule. The games come one after another.

There is no time to get to know the new teammates. There’s no time for those coming from other leagues to adapt to the speed and specifics of the English game. Whoever comes to play in England in January, jumps straight into the deep waters.

It might turn out that a new player just cannot get in rhythm until late march. It is very different for those who come to England after the end of the season. If one joins an English club in July, one has the perfect conditions to adapt and to prepare wit the team for the new season.

Sometimes players do not enjoy a good start of their professional life in England, some pick up knocks or even injuries. There is a lot stress and it affects players’ performance and reduces their ability to adjust to the new conditions.

Their teams are distracted as well. In January it’s always hard to English unless it is a German team that would enjoy the Bundesliga’s winter break.

And there is more. The clubs refuse to sell their best players in the middle of the season as any sale affects their plans and their game in a negative way. If you represent a club that wants to sign one of Monaco’s stars this season, you are doomed to failure.

Or… you must pay at least 15 mln. pounds above the players market price. Because the selling clubs would always come up with the argument that they are left with no time to replace him with a player that makes impact.

Let’s no forget the European football factor.

If Real Madrid wants to sign a Monaco star player in January, it’s a tricky situation. The player cannot be registered for the Champions League as one has already played in it this season. It makes the deal unattractive form anyone.

Some club’s might need one or two new faces to keep chasing for a league’s title, top 4 finish or to win the relegation battle. Hull City for example, would argue tell that if their new signings managed to keep them in the Premier League, it worthed the money and the time spent working on transfers.

However, if players who join to any club involved in the relegation battle in January and fail to make an impact and to help the team, the club might be forced to sell them within the next transfer window. It is very hard to pay huge salaries in Championship or in any lower level league.

So clubs must be very smart in their January transfer business. Most of the big English clubs tend to be quiet in this time of the year. They focus on the games, on winning as much points as they can and plan their summer transfer business.

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