By Sanjay Suri
When I was little, I was as obsessed by deadline day as I was with actual football matches. As a Liverpool fan, the one that stands out to me was 2011, when throughout the entire day, all the talk was about the potential sale of star striker Fernando Torres to bitter rivals Chelsea.
Unfortunately, the sale, as well as the subsequent signings of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, happened after my bedtime so instead I had to wake up to this sad news. Since then, I have not really paid much attention to January deadline day. Until this year.
The January transfer window in general is an awkward one. We rarely see much transfer activity as teams prefer to use the summer transfer window as there is more time for players to integrate themselves into the squad during pre-season.
However, when we do get activity, it tends to be more exciting, due to the fact that clubs have just one month to complete deals, rather than two in the summer. In an ideal world, clubs try to get their signings sorted well before the 11PM deadline, yet this year things felt rushed.
After all, even when the clock struck 11, we were still waiting to hear the outcome of big deals such as Dele Alli to Everton and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona. Even I was putting off going to sleep until I found out whether Liverpool would complete the signing of promising youngster Fabio Carvalho. Once again, I would be left disappointed.
So, what else happened on deadline day? We started the day with arguably the feel-good story of the month: Christian Eriksen returning to the Premier League just seven months after suffering a cardiac arrest during the Euros. I can’t wait to see him in action once more.
Tottenham had a one-in-one-out policy regarding midfielders as Giovani Lo Celso, Bryan Gil and record signing Tanguy Ndombele made way for Juventus pair Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur. Donny Van de Beek might finally get some Premier League minutes after joining Everton on loan.
Newcastle were eager to flex their new financial muscles once more, signing Matt Targett and Geordie Dan Burn from their league rivals, albeit Targett is just a loan move. And finally, Burnley replaced Chris Wood with one of the most consistent goalscorers from the Bundesliga, Wout Weghorst.
The transfer deadline day in the summer of 2021 was much more mundane. Although Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to United was technically a deadline day signing, it was very clear that it was going to happen, and it was just a matter of completing the paperwork in the morning.
The rest of the day was largely forgettable, just like most of the previous deadline days. The issue is that clubs do not want to leave signings to the last minute, and so start negotiations at the start of the window. However, if one negotiation is drawn out until the final day of the window, we often see a knock-on effect.
This is exactly what happened in 2011 – Liverpool left it late before selling Torres, and then had to pay far too much to replace him in the form of Andy Carroll. This was a very exciting watch for a neutral, especially since neither Torres nor Carroll succeeded at their new teams.
It is without a doubt that this was an intriguing transfer window as a whole, helped by Barcelona’s need to sell players, Newcastle looking to spend big to avoid relegation, and Conte and Tottenham looking to shake up their squad to push towards top four.
But can we expect more of this in the future? Unfortunately, I think that this year was an exception. In the summer, whilst clubs may spend big, most deals will be completed well before the deadline and the transfer market will be getting less volatile.
The last few windows have seen clubs be more cautious due to the financial effects of the pandemic, and so the result this window was a bit of desperation to give their squads a much-needed shake-up. But now, as we are heading closer and closer to normality, it seems that we should be heading to less craziness, albeit more spending, in future transfer windows. If this means Liverpool never sign Andy Carroll again for £35million, I’ll take it.
Image: Oliveroliu via Flickr