With the transfer window less than 6 weeks away, speculation is beginning to mount on who will be coming to join Arsenal in January. Whilst thinking about what to write on the matter, 5 key factors came to mind. Rather then write on each individually, I have collated the thoughts into ‘5 key factors to remember during the transfer window.
Ignore the Speculation
Journalists throughout the globe use transfer speculation to write easy stories. Sports editors use speculation to fill up column space and gain hits for advertising revenue. And ITKs use transfer gossip to gain followers, to fill the void in their lives where friends should be.
My advice, as always, is ignore the bullshit. It can be hard not to get drawn in at times, such as with the Higuain deal last summer, but its important to remember the basic stats. We will be linked with over 100 players, and likely sign 1 or 2. I have seen people getting angry at the club when one of the targets a paper prints ends up at another club. It is unlikely this player was ever a target, so the person is getting angry for no reason.
Finally, remember planted stories. Agents representing players will play a story, in the hope it brings to light the availability of said player and someone else signs him. They will also plant a story to quicken up a deal, or in crease a contract offer, with another club. And often a selling club will plant a story in the hope that it will generate interest in a player. This is where Arsenal’s world wide media appeal is a disadvantage. Link a player to Arsenal for those reason, the world will write the story.
Do not believe the speculation until you say the player holding the shirt.
If you want to keep up with the transfer speculation, or just have a laugh with how many players we get linked with, from Sunday, we will be running SheWore’s famous ‘A to Z of Transfer Speculation.’
The World Cup Matters
One player generating a lot of interest at the moment is Diego Costa. The Brazilian Spanish striker has recently declared his allegiance to his new nation. Yet to win a Spanish cap, yet certainly on the radar of the Spanish management, he will be foolish to leave Spain.
Join Arsenal, have to settle in a new country, and no longer be guaranteed the starting spot that he currently gets for Atletico Madrid, he would likely be cast aside in the thoughts of the management before he has even kicked a ball for Spain. Why would he leave?
We saw a similar situation nearly 2 years ago with Lukas Podolski. A deal was done in January, however he decided to hold off until the summer as he was worried about his Euro 2012 spot.
The World Cup is key in players’ thinking. Better to be playing and performing for a lower side and get into your countries squad, then make the move, fail to settle then lose your place. It’s why I can not see the likes of Diego Costa and Karim Benzema changing club, let alone moving country.
Obviously when it comes to players such as Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Robert Lewandowski, this does not apply, as they are so key to their national sides, that the could not play for their respective clubs between now a June 2014 and still be starters in the World Cup.
The Champions League Doesn’t Matter
Whilst the World Cup is uppermost in the mind of players when thinking about a January transfer, the Champions League should not come into a clubs thinking.
Whilst a player can have a lot of short term benefits, giving the squad a morale boost, and adding depth to an injury ravaged position or improving the overall squad quality, a player needs to be signed with a long term vision. That means being cup tied for the Champions League does not come into thinking.
When you are investing in a player over a 4 of 5 year contract, the Champions League should not come into the thinking. You do not turn down a Lewandowski because he can not play in the Champions League. Likewise you do not sign a Papise Cisse for the sole reason that he is not cup tied.
When making a January transfer, it is important to not just focus on the next 6 months, but more importantly the next 4 years.
Beware the Year Long Loan
Romelu Lukaku and Loic Remy are two names on many people’s lips as January transfer. Stop them thoughts dead as they will not happen. You can not sign someone in January who is currently on a season long loan. Rules do not permit this.
Whilst both players would be ideal signings for Arsenal, they can not happen. As Donnie Brasco says ‘Forget about it’.
Sometimes NOT SPENDING is Best
Fernando Torres ( to Chelsea – £50m), Andy Carroll ( to Newcastle – £35m), Alfonso Alves (to Middlesbrough – £12m), Scott Parker (to Chelsea – £10m), Jermaine Defoe, Robbie Keane, Pascal Chimbonda, Carlo Cudicini and Wilston Palacios (all to Spurs – combined £44m), Nicolas Anelka (to Chelsea – £15m), Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Nigel De Jong and Craig Bellamy (all Man City – combined £48m)
The best players are often not available in January. Yes you could land a Suarez or Arshavin (remember his 1st 12 months!), but these players are few and far between.
Whilst Arsenal’s squad does need strengthening, and a couple of key transfers could see us lift the title come May, it is important that we buy the right players, and not just spend because we feel we have too.
Last January we were heavily linked with Diame and Ba. We could have tied up a big chunk of money over many years on two players who are not really Arsenal quality. Just because you have money in your pocket, it does not mean you should spend it.
If the right player (Lewandowski, Ginter, Benzema, Suarez) does come available, by all means sign him. But if what is available is not good enough, then not spending is best. ‘Keep your powder dry for the next window’ is the key moto.
What you are usually best off doing is investing the future. In January 2006, Manchester United signed Patrice Evra (£5.8m) and Nemanja Vidic (£7m). Both looked vastly out of depth in their 1st 6 months at the club. After the initial settling in period, they became amongst the most consistent players in the Premier League, winning back to back to back Premier League titles and a Champions League. Did the 6 months pressure free time to adjust to England give them an advantage? Likely. But in January 2014, not for the 2013/14 season, but for the next 4 or 5 seasons. Let them adjust and adapt, then become world beaters of the futures.
The January transfer window is a tricky one. Arsenal got it spot on back in 2004 buying Jose Antonio Reyes. Whilst he ended up struggling as he failed to fully adapt to England (dyslexia, bullying, consistently fouled) he was an important cog in the title race. Who can forget his goals against Chelsea (both league and cup). He was a fresh of breath air, both for the players at the club and the fans.
Signing someone in January can be like taking a shot of adrenaline during a marathon. When you are lagging, tiring, the fresh legs can galvanise the team, the fresh face can galvanise the fans. Personally I would always make one signing every January.
Just remember, as speculation builds up, don’t believe it, don’t get your hopes up, and it is important that Arsenal sign the right player, not just a player.