There is a necessary balance between buying the players you need as quickly as possible and negotiating the price to a reasonable figure, this of course takes time. Yet the January transfer window is short and many clubs struggle to thrash out deals as soon as they would like. Take Arsenal’s summer transfers for example. They were decent enough but not only were they signed too late for pre season, they were signed four games in to the start of the campaign. The power of hindsight isn’t even necessary to see that these players should have been bought earlier. Even aside from the fact that players need time to settle in to a new club in a new league, you want your new signings to be available for as many games as possible. Considering this, why then do clubs insist on dragging their heels over signings?
Clearly negotiating takes time, but clubs know this. When there are long standing targets at stake in particular, for example Gary Cahill, why have these transfer negotiations not started before the window even opened? For clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea in particular this season it is frustrating to see. They both have money to spend and they have both known for some time that they have needed squad reinforcements. So why have they not signed anyone yet? Yes, I know Henry has signed for Arsenal but that hardly counts, he will be gone in six weeks. Arsenal fans should be hoping that the board have in fact learnt from their mistakes and are using the signing of Henry to tide the club over until deadline day when they reveal they have forked out £25m on a striker as if part of some grand David Blaine-esque trick, just with more entertainment and worth. In all seriousness though that is most unlikely to happen. You do get the feeling with Arsenal in particular that they are so concerned with saving every penny that they can on transfer fees whereas they would be far better off finding a negotiator who was able to get a better price for the players he already had; an initial £25m for Fabregas is just embarrassing and to sell Henry at the age of 29 for the same amount of money as Darren Bent is a pitiful effort, by Spurs and Arsenal. If they had received the fees they deserved for those players they could be far less picky about the amount of money they spend.
As admirable as it is to try and get a good deal for players and to be financially aware all boards and managers have to understand that football is not like any other business and if you need a certain player then you need that player. You might have to pay more than you like but it will always be worth it. I wonder how many Arsenal or Chelsea fans would rather their clubs paid an extra few million pounds to be able to have any potential signings for all of the January games. The sooner they are brought in the sooner you can use them. Sounds painfully simple I agree, so why do so many clubs always leave it so late?