Alan Pardew said recently that he felt that only the two Manchester clubs were in a position to turn down transfer bids for their players in January. I’m not sure I agree with him, but then again, that depends upon the transfer bid. It’s fair to say that the Manchester clubs don’t have to suffer the same sort of transfer rumours surrounding their players that the other clubs do but that doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily have to sell. Manchester City desperately needs to offload some of their players to reduce their wage bill. You could even go as far as to say that Manchester City are not in a position to negotiate over the offers that they receive for certain players because they need to trim the squad so badly, although that would be a little facetious. What it all boils down too are the three factors that determine whether or not a club has to sell its players to other teams: the club’s financial situation, reputation and ambition.
Different clubs work on different models. The smaller clubs, and some of the larger ones, work on the basis that they must sell ‘x’ amount of players per year. Arsenal and Everton both seem to operate on this sort of basis. Once a year they seem to sell one or two of their bigger players and the challenge for the manager is to take that transfer fee and try and find two more players with it. It is something that Arsene Wenger has become quite good at and David Moyes does well from time to time. The key to the continued success of clubs like this however is to have a good youth system from which you can replenish your squad. The sad fact of the matter is though that there are very few clubs who are in a financial position strong enough to turn down bids for their players. You would have to say though that considering Liverpool’s new owners, Arsenal’s sale of Nasri and Fabregas in the summer and Tottenham’s ability to sell squad players they neither want nor need none of the top six clubs are in a position where they have to sell for financial reasons. How long that lasts is another matter altogether though.
Even if you are financially stable the power of the players in the modern game is such that they can force a move away if they wish to. Which means clubs either have to rely on the loyalty of their players or on the fact that the club reputation is large enough to convince players to stay. Manchester United is the perfect example of this, as is Liverpool. Liverpool’s success has been questionable over the past twenty years yet they are still considered one of the biggest clubs in the world. Subsequently they can buy, and keep hold of, relatively big players. However I truly believe that with this aspect no club in the Premier League is safe. Manchester United could not hang on to Cristiano Ronaldo just as Arsenal and other big English clubs could not, and would not, persuade their players to stay if Real Madrid or Barcelona come knocking. You can offer your players all the money in the world but for many the opportunity of trophies and the glory of playing for the greatest teams on the planet is too much to turn down. In that respect, no teams in the Premier League, or England for that matter, are in a position to turn down a transfer bid if a player really wanted to go.
Your club might not have the reputation of a renowned winner, of one of the top clubs in the world where your players are guaranteed success but if you feel you are headed that way then you have the chance to hold on to your players. Take Tottenham’s exploits over the summer with Modric. Yes he had only recently signed a new contract, but the reason they refused to sell him was because they thought they were on to something big with the squad they have. Would Spurs have really had the right to block Modric’s move to Chelsea if they were not able to convince him that he could be playing Champions League football at Spurs next season, and that he could be challenging for trophies at Spurs. This is not an argument that will last forever, there is a non-specific time limit on it, but for a year or so at least it gives them the moral position to turn down the advances of ‘bigger’ clubs for your players and deny them greater opportunities.
If you then consider Pardew’s statement then you would say that perhaps Manchester United are the only team to have the financial clout, reputation and ambition to hold on to their players, whilst the rest of the top teams have enough in their locker to fend off potential poachers, for January at least.
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