The Premier League summer transfer window has been very quiet. Compared to years past, the number of big moves made thus far have been few and far between. Although the Premier League’s biggest clubs have been linked with stars, mostly to help websites and newspapers get readers, few teams have been able to land their intended targets.
Thus far the biggest spenders in the transfer market have been Aston Villa. The Villains have spent £83 million on players including Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett. But if you look through the list of players purchased this summer, you find plenty of clubs who have spent under £20m on new talent. Moreover, you will see that some clubs haven’t dropped a dime on new players including Newcastle United and Crystal Palace.
Perhaps it is the biggest clubs that have been most surprising. Reigning Champions League winners Liverpool have spent just £1.3m thus far on teenager Sepp van den Berg. Chelsea, so long the league’s biggest spenders have dropped £40m. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur, who didn’t purchase a player last summer, have spent just over £60m. Even Manchester City have spent a mere £75.3m.
Yes, there are plenty of days left to go until transfer deadline day on August 8th. But Premier League transfers are changing. With player inflation rising incredibly, the days of big money moves for a number of expensive players in one transfer window are ending.
Liverpool and Manchester City are showing that teams can spend large sums, but they must be smart with their money. In addition, the two clubs have shown that adding one piece for a large amount is better than adding several players for less.
The increase in transfer fees, agent fees, and salaries is transforming player movement. The Premier League may resemble North American sports leagues more in the future if the transfer market continues along its current path.
No, the Premier League won’t have playoffs or meaningless games that play out over long seasons but will mirror the way players move teams.
Consider the NBA, NFL, or Major League Baseball and the amount of money available to the best players. The traditional way for players to move teams is to be swapped for another star. Yet, since the advent of free agency (1976 for MLB, 1988 for NBA, 1993 for the NFL’s current system), players have been able to move teams freely upon the completion of their contracts.
In 1995, the Bosman Rule came into effect in football allowing players to move as free agents. Since the Bosman transfer started, players have been able to leave for “free” and join new teams. The move has saved teams money and allowed players to better their situations.
This summer saw former Arsenal player Aaron Ramsey join Juventus on a free transfer after his contract ran out. It was one of the more high-profile free transfers.
Due to the size of transfer fees, player agent fees, and salaries, big clubs will most likely make more use of free transfers in the future. Much like the NBA, MLB, or NFL, these moves save teams millions to acquire players in the first place. Although they shell out millions in salaries.
Of course, the traditional transfer fees will be paid, but only when a must-have player — like Manchester City’s purchase of Rodri from Atletico Madrid this summer — is deemed important.
The transfer market is not what it used to be. With the price of players today, Premier League clubs must be smarter. Scouting and analytics continue to improve, and perhaps, patience will be the next to also increase.
Interestingly, this summer’s NBA player market has been the craziest in recent memory — perhaps of all-time. Even with teams focusing their buying strategies differently, anomalies can still creep in with teams swapping stars or selling talent.
The Premier League transfer market will only see prices rise. With teams and players priced out of transfers, a new way of acquiring talent will be needed. Free transfers aren’t a new thing, but they will become a part of the game used more than ever by Premier League teams in the next decade.