As long as the football season remains on hold, the summer transfer window remains closed, but how will the window work once it does open and how are clubs, agents and players preparing for it?
For every club, this is unusual territory. Most clubs would have a list of transfer targets and a budget that is set – but this summer, it isn’t as simple. This period is especially difficult for those clubs lingering around the promotion and relegation places, as there is still no clear understanding of how this issue will be resolved if the leagues are unable to resume.
Victor Orta, director of football at Leeds United, has opened up about the uncertainty facing his club. With Leeds United currently a point clear at the top of the Championship with nine fixtures left to play, they are yet to discover whether they will be recruiting with a Championship or Premier League budget for the 2020/21 season.
Contracts are another key issue that clubs will need to navigate, with over 1,400 players out of contact on June 30 from the Championship, League One and League Two alone. However, Orta expects clubs to ‘be ethical over the availability of players’ and believes next season will see a significant rise in the number of academy players used.
UEFA are currently holding discussions focused around player contracts, with the option of extending contracts by ‘six or seven weeks’. A number of sports lawyers have also suggested that if the season hasn’t ended, then neither has the contract.
Arturo Fernandes, head of Portugal’s Agents Association, also backs up Orta’s belief that clubs will look to put their faith in academy players, instead of entering into an uncertain transfer market. “I remember the period between 2008 and 2010” said Fernandes. “I remember the fantastic Espanyol of Mauricio Pochettino with young players like Jose Callejon. I remember the fantastic team of Sporting Lisbon with Paulo Bento and players like Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso – why? Because they were in a big crisis with money, so gave the opportunity to young players from the academy.”
Many European clubs will look to recruit from within their own nations, mostly because it makes things easier for the players, their families, and even for the agents to be able to travel around easily. “It’s frustrating but we all need to be patient because there’s something out there that’s bigger and more important than football, whether we like it or not, added Fernandes”.
Despite the academy season being terminated in recent weeks, could this be a blessing in disguise for many young talents across world football?