Football

Early Premier League Transfer Window Closure: Was It The Right Thing To Do?

The Premier League last week confirmed that plans for the summer transfer window to close prior to the commencement of the new season will become a reality as the result of a vote at the beginning of September. But was it the right decision to make?

From the 2018-19 season, clubs will no longer be able to sign players after the season has begun, with all incoming business needed to be completed the Thursday before the start of the new season.

Fourteen of the twenty top-flight clubs voted in favour of the early transfer window closure, with Manchester United, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Watford and Swansea City voting against the proposed plans.

This could potentially pose a problem for Premier League clubs for more reasons than one, as should another club swoop in for one of their players across the continent or elsewhere, they will be allowed to sell or loan out players after the deadline, however, will not be allowed to sign a replacement.

Additionally, upon the start of the season should a player become injured, this could potentially pose the risk of leaving a club short in a certain position, particularly if that player has sustained a serious injury and faces a long period of recovery.

Leagues across Europe are yet to follow suit, with their respective transfer deadline days remaining on the 31st August. This could leave several players in the vulnerable position of being snapped up should their release clause be met for instance, and their clubs will be unable to replace them until the following January at the earliest.

However, if they had anything about them then they would do everything in their power to hold onto their players if any chance of signing a replacement was not possible, echoing the opinion of Manchester United boss Mourinho who stated the following, despite his club voting against the early transfer window closure:

“So the risk is minimal and even those powerful clubs have to know if we can’t buy after, let’s say 14th or 15th of August more or less, if we can’t buy players we’re not going to sell.”

For players who are on the fringe or have perhaps fallen out of favour with their managers, however, their respective club shouldn’t necessarily have to worry about signing a replacement on the basis of their squad numbers being sufficient enough.

The benefits of having an early transfer window will mean that clubs will have to work fast to obtain their targets and get their business done early. This will allow clubs to give any new signings time to adjust to their new surroundings and adapt to the system of their new manager.

Given that the plans for an earlier transfer window are now in place, it would perhaps be a good idea for fellow leagues across the world to take a leaf of the Premier League’s book to allow for clubs to have a fair chance to bolster their squad, and reduce the risk of losing star players with no chance to sign a replacement.

However, with the transfer window opening sooner from next summer, this would still give clubs more than adequate time to bolster their squads, reduce the risk of unsettling players, and give managers the opportunity to slot new recruits into their system.

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Football

Manchester United v Swansea City Review

Manchester United continued their fine start to the 2017-18 season with a second successive 4-0 win against Welsh club Swansea. The Old Trafford club remain top of the table having made it two from two, and are yet to concede having kept a second clean sheet of the season. The starting line-up remained unchanged from last week’s victory against West Ham, with two of United’s summer acquisitions earning themselves a starting berth once more. Nemanja Matic started in the centre of the park, with Romelu Lukaku starting as a lone striker.

In the first half, The Red Devils failed to break the Swans’ defence down, and weren’t able to find the net until just before the half time whistle. They eventually found their feet and began to run riot in the closing stages of the game which allowed them to increase their goal difference to 8 continue their blistering start to the season.

The Swans were able to start the game strongly, with them holding off United until the 45th minute in which Eric Bailly commenced the scoring. The Ivorian pounced onto a deflection of the ball to find the back of the net after Paul Pogba hit the woodwork with a header from a United corner.

The Welsh club recently sold their star player Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton in a £45 million deal, and are yet to find a replacement. The Liberty Stadium based club are yet to find the net in their first two games of the season, having started their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Southampton.

Summer signing Romelu Lukaku was next to find the net, scoring his third goal in two games in the 80th minute to continue his strong start in his career with the Red Devils. The towering Belgian took advantage of poor defending by Swansea with an assist provided by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to put the ball past Polish keeper Lukasz Fabianski with a powerful finish from an unmarked position. Henrikh Mkhitaryan gained his fourth assist in 2 games with United’s fourth goal, in which Paul Pogba scored, chipping the ball over the keeper with a sublime finish. This will send a stern message to United boss José Mourinho that the Armenian deserves a regular starting place having struggled on occasion last season. Anthony Martial again found the scoresheet with a fourth goal for United, assisted by compatriot Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman glided past the defence with ease to put the ball in the lower right-hand corner of the net. The former AS Monaco forward made his second appearance of the season having replaced Marcus Rashford in the 75th minute, proving he is worthy of regular game time having been linked with a move away from Old Trafford for much of the summer.

United dominated the game in the latter stages of the second half, and finished the game with superior ball possession with 59% in total. 17 shots on goal were registered by the Red Devils, in contrast to Swansea’s five attempts on goal. United look strong having bolstered their squad this summer, and given their strong start they will look to continue this and establish themselves as serious title challengers, hoping to improve on a sixth-place finish in the 2016-17 season. The Old Trafford club struggled against teams they should arguably have beaten last season, as their poor home form saw them drop points with a series of draws.

Football

Romelu Lukaku linked to £75m Manchester United move

Manchester United were yesterday linked with a sensational move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku. A reported fee of £75m was reported to have been accepted by the Merseyside club, although there is no deal yet in place.

In a remarkable turn of events, Lukaku had looked set to return to former club Chelsea, with the Londoners reportedly looking to re-sign the striker as a replacement for Diego Costa, who has recently been linked with moves to China, as well as his former club Athletico Madrid, despite the Spanish club’s transfer ban.

Lukaku, who plies his trade internationally with Belgium, has been at Goodison Park since 2013. The Toffees then signed him permanently from Chelsea in a £28m deal ahead of the 2014-15 league campaign having undergone a successful loan period with them in the 2013-14 season.

The towering Belgian was sold by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was seen as surplus to requirements by the Stamford Bridge club. With the former West Bromwich Albion loanee having gone from strength to strength since his move to Merseyside, Lukaku looks set to link up with his former boss at Old Trafford, with club legend Wayne Rooney looking set to move in the opposite direction.

The former Everton forward has been consistently linked with a move away from United having seen first-team opportunities limited under Mourinho, despite being club captain. Since his move to the Red Devils in 2004 the striker has scored a remarkable 253 goals in all competitions, overtaking Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 249.

In spite of reaching a record goalscoring milestone, Rooney has faced a heavy amount of criticism in recent times, perhaps rather harshly, with many fans calling for him to leave the club. The United striker looks increasingly likely to call time on his career at the Theatre of Dreams at the ripe age of 31, seeking first-team football elsewhere. Linked with several moves including in China and the USA, the United forward has stated his desire to once again play for the team where he began to make a name for himself, catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sky Sports reported earlier today that Rooney is willing to take a pay-cut in order to join his former club, with the forward’s current wage demands in the region of £300,000 per week. Everton are said to be the only club Rooney is willing to join if he were to stay in the Premier League, and he has been said to form part of any deal to bring Lukaku in the opposite direction.

The Red Devils look set to continue their summer spending after the acquisition of Swedish defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica. Jose Mourinho presented a list of targets to the club’s Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the end of last season and one of his biggest priorities is bolstering his attacking options. United suffered a frustrating number of home draws which saw them obtain a sixth place finish in the league, although the season ended with a League Cup and Europa League win for the Portuguese boss, achieving his goal of gaining entry to Europe’s elite cup competition the UEFA Champion’s League in the 2017-18 season.

United have been in the market for a new striker after releasing Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the end of the 16-17 season having been ruled out with a long-term injury. The Old Trafford club took the decision to not renew his contract despite a remarkable season, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances.

Many thought the striker, who turned 35 in October, would struggle with the demands of the Premier League, but he certainly proved his doubters wrong, despite cruelly ending his season early. The former PSG attacker sustained serious ligament damage whilst playing the Europa League against Anderlecht on the 20th April, and was forced to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the campaign.

United were said to be close to sealing the signature of Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who had often played second fiddle to Karim Benzema throughout last season since returning to the Bernabeu from Juventus. The current European champions are standing their ground in their valuation of the striker, however, United are said to be unwilling to meet the Spanish club’s demands having seen more than one offer declined. United seem to have changed tactics and go for a striker who is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and that could prove to be a wise decision.

With nothing yet set in stone, it remains to be seen whether Lukaku will don the currently vacant number 9 shirt at Old Trafford come next season. The powerful forward certainly has big boots to fill with the recent departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, has all the right attributes to be a success at Old Trafford should a move materialise.