I know there is a recession and that funds are tight, but Villa have just pumped £18million into the transfer merry go round, so why aren't we seeing more activity in the market? Sunderland have to buy a replacement for Bent, especially with Wellbeck succumbing to a long term injury, and Tottenham have benefited from a surprise windfall thanks to the sell on clause that West Ham always forget to insert, so why is the market still as frigid as a shy Eskimo nun in the land of the midnight sun?
The problem is, of course, the 25 player cap. Designed to help the smaller clubs and limit the scope for the likes of Man City to run 35 player squads, it is doing the exact reverse. All the clubs moved heaven and earth to populate their squads to the limit before the August window closed so, now, they have to sell before they can buy. But every other club is in the same Catch 22 and why would you sell if you can't be sure that another club will part with a player to replace the man you let go? Sunderland now have a gap in the squad but before they can buy somebody, the selling club has to know that their man can be replaced, and the next club down the line is in the same position, and so it goes on. It's like the housing market all of a sudden. You can't buy if you can't sell and you can't sell until you can buy. The chain is frozen stiff.
So we can't sign anybody unless we find takers for Behrami, Cole, Gabbidon, McCarthy or Ilunga. We had to let Ben Haim go back to Pompey to sign Bridge and until another gap appears, we are buggered. The cap was introduced with the best intentions but, like all artificial restraints on trade, it has hideously distorted the market. What is a player now worth? Well some are available at knock down prices to create space in the squad, whilst others, like Bent, are absurdly over valued as the selling club has the buying club over a barrel. We don't want to sell him, and there is nobody else available on the market, so if you want him, pay double his true value. And Villa, still flush with the Milner cash, have coughed up!
The only way of thriving in this market is to SELL a prime asset. In the summer, Parker would be worth £5m tops if we go down; but if Liverpool persuade Babel to move on, they may well offer £15m this January. I wonder if that might be enough to persuade Sullivan and Gold to think again and part with Scotty.
Other than that, we have to hope that the Mafia release some funds to Fiorentina so they can afford Behrami and that QPR decide to take McCarthy, Cardiff relieve us of Gabbidon and Monaco gamble on Ilunga. But what happens if we can't then replace them? The squad would then be paper thin!