The European football transfer window may now be closed but there was talk of little else this week as the likes of top coaches Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel made calls for sweeping changes.
The subject is at the centre of attention not only because of the soaring inflation that marked the latest round of transfers, but also because of the mayhem losing top players can wreak on a team’s best-laid plans.
The English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday to shut the 2018 close-season window before the start of the 2018-19 campaign in a move that sparked approval across the European game.
The vote followed complaints by managers that transfer activity disturbs their preparations and others in Spain, Germany, Italy and France have been swift to jump on the bandwagon.
The windows in Europe’s other major leagues run until at least August 31, meaning clubs outside England could buy players from English top-flight teams after the new Premier League deadline.
“I think the same thing as most people do,” said Real Madrid coach Zidane.
“The transfer window must stop when the league restarts. When official competition restarts, it must stop.”
Manchester City are believed to be one of the five clubs who voted against the proposal, but their coach Pep Guardiola said the club’s only concern was that rival teams in other European leagues will still be able to sign players — potentially from English clubs — after the window has closed in the Premier League.
“I am so happy with the decision the Premier League have taken. I think it’s really good,” he said.
“Manchester City, what I know is they agree about that. We just have to reflect that the transfer window in England will be closed sooner than in Europe.
“Hopefully we can fix it so all the other clubs in Europe finish at the same time.”
Bayern coach Ancelotti, who won the 2014 Champions League title as Real’s head coach after winning it twice at AC Milan, hopes the Bundesliga follows the example set by English clubs.
“No one is happy with the situation, so this is a very good idea,” the Italian said.
“I hope the Bundesliga will soon follow this rule.
“The market has to close before the start of the season.”
In Italy, Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta also backed the decision.
“It’s the right choice. Having such a long transfer window creates turmoil, a well-run club succeeds by planning out a transfer campaign,” he said.
“The transfer market has to be limited, you can’t have players moving when the leagues have already started.”
— Lewandowski disagrees —
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has also given his support to making the close-season trading period shorter.
But German Chancellor Merkel on Friday urged UEFA and FIFA to focus instead on stamping out spiralling spending on players.
“I view the financial developments in professional football as critically as many people,” she told regional daily Mittelbayerische Zeitung.
“Such sums are comprehensible to no one. UEFA and FIFA should change the rules on player transfers to ensure greater balance,” she said.
Elsewhere in Germany, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has said his club must spend more or risk being left trailing their rivals.
“Bayern have to think something up and be more creative if the club wants to attract a world-class player to Munich,” Lewandowski told magazine Der Spiegel.
Earlier in the week, La Liga president Javier Tebas said both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City were making a mockery of UEFA’s Financial Fair-play rules.
PSG prised Brazilian superstar Neymar away from Barcelona for a world record 222 million euros ($264 million) and then took Monaco’s French star Kylian Mbappe on loan with an option to buy for 180 million euros.
Manchester City also spent heavily in the last transfer window, lavishing an estimated £221 million (242 million euros, $288 million) on new players.