CLUBS might struggle to sign the players they want in the January transfer window because of the new trend of players letting their contracts run out.
Those who only have six months remaining on their current deal, will not want to miss an opportunity to be rewarded a handsome signing-on fee in the summer. They would rather sit on the bench with their current team and have the option of a signing-on-fee available to them rather than leave to play games regularly at another club.
A player like Paul Pogba isn’t going to risk a big pay-day by joining another club in the transfer window. Even if Real Madrid wanted to sign him now, why would Pogba sacrifice a potentially huge signing-on fee just so Manchester United can get some return on their €110m investment?
Pogba is being criticised for not signing a new deal with United, but he has done nothing wrong. He is honouring the terms of his deal and he has every right to see out the remaining six months of his contract.
Pogba’s United team-mate Jesse Lingard is another player who shouldn’t be quick to leave Old Trafford, especially the way he has been treated by the club this season.
Lingard was arguably the best player in the Premier League during his loan spell with West Ham in the second half of last season and I’m sure when he sat down with the club in the summer he would have been assured that he would have been given a fair chance to become a regular starter at Old Trafford. That chance has not come.
United were patronising Lingard. I’m sure their intention was to sell him last summer and knew that if they had a player who was happy to stay with the club it meant they could demand a higher transfer fee. If the message was that; Lingard was surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, and considering the player only had a year to run on the deal, then other clubs would have offered little for the player.
West Ham did put in a bid, but it fell well short of United’s €35m valuation. However, United’s tricks were unsuccessful and now they find themselves touting their player to every club in the hope someone will bid for the player.
The argument could be made, for a player like Lingard, that a loan move would suit all parties involved in the transfer. United would receive a loan fee. He could go to another club and get some game time and potentially increase his signing-on-fee by performing well.
Clubs might be still willing to sign him when his contract expires, but they would be offering the midfielder far less money.
The best solution for players with only six months remaining on their contract is to sign a pre-contract with another club. Unfortunately, players in England cannot sign a pre-contract with another English club in January.
But for Pogba, whose future looks certain to be away from England, signing a pre-contract makes sense. That way when he does line out for United he’s not worried about getting injured and jeopardising a move away from the club.
The January transfer window is usually more appealing to clubs struggling at the bottom of the table rather than those at the top.
It’s rare that anyone of real quality would be available to the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool this time of the year, but with Covid now having severe repercussions on squads, I would be surprised if those teams at the top aren’t interested in recruiting players that might not strengthen their starting 11 but will strengthen their squad.
Unfortunately, teams at the bottom, apart from Newcastle, will be cautious when it comes to spending in the transfer window because of the uncertainty. Clubs will be fearful of the financial repercussions Covid could have: reduced crowds, cost of protocols.
And they would be fearful of spending their limited funds.
Loaning players might be the only viable option for these clubs but is it a risk loaning players when you are in a relegation fight and the consequences of relegation won’t apply to a loan player.