It sounds strange but, have Man United and Arsenal just set a benchmark for future winter transfers?
The Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal isn’t unique but it does perhaps represent a much improved way of for clubs to do business midway through a season.
At the time of writing, just £166m has been spent by Premier League clubs in January with just over a week remaining before it closes. That fee averages to around £8.3m per Premier League club, which compares to the £12.4m spent on average per club last winter. Of course, there’s still time for the top-flight to eclipse the £249m spent twelve months ago, but there may be a trend beginning to form.
Many clubs at the top level of English football cannot compete with the elite financially and therefore will spend their time during transfer windows trying to find bargains and loan deals in order to strengthen squads. As they’ll no doubt be desperate to do business in the short month of January, selling clubs are expected to hike up their asking fees in order to meet demand. But what if the swap deal were to catch on and, in turn, hand clubs with financial restrictions the ability to compete in the market?
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 22, 2018
Arsenal and Man United came to an agreement that seems to have benefitted both parties. United have no doubt ended up with the better of the two players on their books, but Mkhitaryan remains a world-class talent who can be a success at the Emirates if given game time and played in the right system.
What the deal means is that Arsenal have been able to replace Sanchez without having to spend any money at all and without necessarily spending hours and days scouting for a viable replacement with the clock ticking down to deadline day. It’s a relatively risk-free deal, particularly as Sanchez was refusing to sign a new contract and was hellbent on leaving the club anyway.
We are delighted to announce the signing of @Alexis_Sanchez from Arsenal.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018
So what if other clubs followed suit? There must be some benefit in the likes of West Ham and Swansea discussing swap deals for players they’ve each been linked with in January. West Ham reportedly want Alfie Mawson while Swansea have been linked with a move to bring Andre Ayew back to the Liberty Stadium – therefore, as both clubs value each player similarly, why isn’t a swap deal being spoken of? As long as both players are happy with the moves going ahead, you’d think this is a headache-free way of doing business for two sides eager to strengthen and stay in the Premier League.
There will always been the need for clubs to spend money on players, but a rise in the popularity of the swap deal would lead to a less inflated marketplace and could even result in uncompetitive spending calming down somewhat.
We may have just witnessed a one-off deal that other clubs are not willing to explore in the future, or this could just be the start of a new way of clubs doing business at the very highest level. Watch this space.
We all know that Marco Silva is a talented manager, but his departure from Watford inside his first season at the club has exploited would could be the Portuguese’s biggest weakness.
Watford appeared to blame Everton for their decision to sack Silva after an “unsolicited approach” was rejected after Ronald Koeman had been dismissed at Goodison Park. Everton ended up appointing Sam Allardyce but since then, Watford’s form has gone alarmingly south.
Silva’s head had been turned and he ultimately lost the trust of the players – who presumably realised that he wasn’t as committed to the job as they were – and the board, who felt that he was no longer capable of being professional within his role.
In my eyes, Silva has only shown his true colours here. He was only using Watford as a stepping stone to bigger and better things and when that didn’t happen, he allowed his emotions and lack of professionalism to effect his performance.
If I was the owner of a football club, I’d be looking at this situation and wondering whether employing a manger that shows a real lack of commitment really is the best way to go.
Silva is a very good manager but if what we perceive from the outside is true, he’ll have done himself no favours here.
David Moyes is in the middle of transforming West Ham from relegation candidates into potential top eight competitors but if he doesn’t get a move on in the transfer market in the next seven days, all that could come crashing down very quickly.
Hamstring injuries to Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic have left Moyes desperately short in attack going in to huge games against Crystal Palace and Brighton. Both Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew could both leave Stratford before the end of the window and Michail Antonio is still not ready to return from his own injury problems.
It means the Hammers head in to an important run of fixtures without a goal threat, and therefore makes them vulnerable to being pulled straight back in to the mix for relegation.
Owners David Gold and David Sullivan are famous for leaving it late to complete mediocre transfers in January and West Ham fans will be very worried that history will be repeating itself this week.