When Arsene Wenger complains about something, the soccer world usually gives the complaint its 15 seconds of glory and then moves on just as quickly. But if there’s one element of modern soccer he complains about consistently and doesn’t get enough attention for it, it’s his strong dislike of the transfer window. Specifically, he loathes how the transfer window drags on through the beginning of the season, and based on what the English soccer sphere has seen recently, he needs to complain more.
Transfer sagas have been around as long as the transfer market has been around. But now with the 24-hour media cycle and news updates every 30 seconds blaring across your eardrums, these sagas have become full on dramas fit for the big screen. Both Saido Berahino and John Stones are young, English players who feel it would be best for their careers if they left the Midlands and Merseyside for the glamor of London, but their clubs don’t agree. And so we are presented with transfer sagas that not only hurt managers, clubs and fans, but players all the same.
Berahino was not in West Brom’s 18 on Sunday because of the distractions of his transfer saga. John Stones played through his own possible distractions and saw his Everton team get played off the park by Manchester City. Tony Pulis is angry, as is Roberto Martinez, and they have every right to be. When the games begin, the talk should be about just that, not transfers that may or may not happen.
Jermaine Jenas wrote in a Yahoo! Sport column recently about his own experiences with transfer rumors and how it emotionally wrought him.
“One minute it was, ‘You’re going to Arsenal’ – then it was ‘You’re going to Tottenham’. I was sick of it. And it meant the last thing I was focusing on was my football. Sometimes I sulked — I even walked out of training on one occasion — all due to confusion about what was going on with my career.”
For Berahino and Stones, with just six days left in the transfer window, their entire lives could change and be uprooted. Frustration could bubble up inside of them and their clubs. It’s a tenuous and downright terrible situation to be involved in.
Jenas was an England youth star who was unhappy with his Newcastle situation and wanted to better his chances of playing an World Cup. He felt that a move would do the trick. John Stones and Saido Berahino both have massive competitions at their respective positions for places at Euro 2016, and moves may well help them both cement their status. And even though it seemed that Stones was going to play through his frustrations, it appears he, like Berahino, has handed in a transfer request. This means the first thing on everyone’s mind at Everton, West Brom, Spurs and Chelsea this weekend will not be the game. And that’s truly a damn shame.
Leaving business late used to be a shrewd business decision. It would force the selling club into making a snap gamble and deciding whether the money on the table would be the best offer they’d get. Now, with the influx of riches from television, selling clubs don’t have to sell for monetary reasons, so the pressure is not on them to move their prized assets. They can hold for a king’s ransom, because they hold more cards than they used to. This puts players in an even worse position, because moves aren’t necessarily assured. With more transfer news going public at every minute, situations can become absolutely untenable.
Whether the Berahino (above) and Stones transfers end up happening is almost secondary, since the sagas about whether they’ll happen have become the story. But sadly, that’s the business of soccer in 2015, and not much can be done to change it. Pandora’s box has been opened, and the lid can’t be glued back on.
Arsene Wenger complaining about anything is usually met with the same response as when he has troubles with his zipper: everyone laughs. But his complaints about the transfer window need to be taken seriously, because he’s been ahead of the curve for years on this issue.
He has never been more right than this summer.
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