This summer's transfer window will be stranger than most
By Joe Harker
Most of Europe's leagues are either done and dusted or wrapping up the final stages, with the status of many clubs already beyond a doubt whether they be champions, relegated or somewhere in between.
Attention therefore turns to the transfer window, and the strange nature of deals done this summer under the shadow of coronavirus.
Lockdowns have cost clubs millions, meaning there's less money to throw around on transfer fees, while many placed employees on furlough and thus would look rather suspicious if they suddenly splashed out millions on new players.
Only the richest clubs and those with the greatest financial freedom might be able to spend large amounts of money, and even some of the biggest names in football are seemingly unable to make a move.
Barcelona and Real Madrid, both clubs limited by their huge wage budgets and expensive rebuilding projects, have indicated nobody should expect big transfers from them.
Indeed, Barcelona confused many when they swapped midfielder Arthur for Juventus playmaker Miralem Pjanic, but further information on the deal showed it allowed both clubs to report incoming fees on their spreadsheets and report a profit on their books.
In the end clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and PSG might be the only ones which can spend big on a player this summer, and even then the transfer spending is not likely to be in the large quantities fans would usually expect.
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However, if a handful of big clubs capable of spending tens of millions do so then that'll put money in the pockets of other clubs, and they in turn will be looking to spend that money to seek replacements of their own.
It's possible that the frozen wheels of the transfer market could get moving once again if the big clubs start spending a bit of money and that trickles down to other teams as major moves kick off a chain of deals. The more money spent, the more money there will be to spend.
United are still interested in Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, a player who could go for a price of over £100 million, while Chelsea have spent big on Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech while they are also working on a deal for Kai Havertz.
There aren't many teams willing or able to splash the cash but for those which can there are some very good players on offer.
The changed nature of the transfer window could even result in some players going easier than they might, free of a bidding war and the selling club under greater financial pressure to part ways with their stars.
Last summer Europe's top five leagues, the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Bundesliga, spent almost €5.5 billion on transfers. It is unlikely the spending this summer will reach similar levels.
Financial forecasts have predicted the pandemic will rob many Premier League clubs of around 20 per cent of their revenues, meaning some could be spending all of their revenues on wages or have no excess profit to spend.