Morning folks, hope you all are staying safe and socially distant—this week is set to be a bear for many places around the U.S., further underscoring the need to stay home and stay out of the way so our healthcare systems can attempt to cope.
I was reading Sam Rowan’s nice look at some potential transfer targets for when this is all over and got to thinking about what the transfer market might look like in a post-COVID world.
This is obviously a secondary concern at the moment but still, we’re all here and bored on a Monday morning so let’s think a bit here, eh?
Many have speculated that the COVID-19 outbreak and its potentially disastrous effects on European football will finally be what reins in the increasingly bonkers global transfer market—the bubble has finally burst, so to speak.
That’s because many clubs will be effectively bankrupt when/if TV monies are returned because matches were not able to be played, all the while staff and player salary expenses climb higher and higher.
We don’t really know how this is going to play out—is it going to be largely limited to lower leagues? Will there be government bailouts for soccer clubs at a time when there are no shortage of demands on state resources? Will some of the more financially strained big clubs (think Barcelona, which spends a ridiculous percentage of their turnover on wages) fall victim? There are a lot of answers that we don’t know.
There also is the matter of whether the transfer window will be closed longer and a short-term contract arrangement settled on if the European leagues are set to resume. This could have an effect on the transfer window arrangement in MLS as well and potentially skew the market—potentially an issue for teams like the Caps, who were expected to dip back into the transfer market this year.
That is especially problematic because part of the Caps’ path forward in terms of bringing in more DP-level talent like Sam outlines is selling on In-Beom Hwang and/or Ali Adnan to Europe. If the bottom falls out of that market it seems tough to imagine they will find many takers for either of those players, both of whom clearly have talent but haven’t exactly set MLS afire in the last season and change.
Even if there are interested buyers, the fee they would garner from those sales seems likely to be significantly reduced given that 1) a bunch of middle of the pack teams are going to be hurting financially, 2) there are going to be players on financially distressed teams further down the pecking order who could be available for a pittance and 3) both players were denied a half-season in which they could have really bolstered their place in the shop window.
There also is a question in my mind as to whether teams will be as interested in buying from MLS and what this will do to the near-term ability for clubs to players visas. I think there will be a decline in appetite for the movement of people in general when this is all over (whether that is founded or not is up in the air) and I think that will negatively impact player exports from MLS compared with players from within a domestic pyramid.
Obviously there are a lot of unknowns here. There really isn’t a ton of point speculating as to what the transfer market will look like until we know whether the European leagues will be able to finish their seasons and, if so, what that looks like. Any move to complete those seasons will require some changes from FIFA/UEFA to the calendar and everyone will kind of go from there.
What cannot be escaped is the fact that we’re likely to enter a major economic recession—which is going to have an adverse effect on every league in the world. This underscores the importance in ensuring the players the Caps did sign this past winter are fit and in a position to succeed. It also reinforces the need to develop the decent cadre of youth talent the Caps are sitting on—always a cost effective alternative to hitting the transfer market.
All in all, the Caps appeared to have a well-laid out plan for their transfer business in the coming months—a plan which has now been torn to pieces. How the club responds will be interesting.
Onto some links!
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb gets nostalgic about some guys that we just don’t think about a lot here at this website (with good reason for some of these guys). Meanwhile, we forge ahead with our best goals bracket—the Elite Eight can be found here
Best of the Rest
ESPN is airing an eight-hour MLS marathon Monday in case you need further incentive to stay inside
FIFA has adjusted the age-limit for next summer’s Olympics, meaning that all players who would have been eligible this summer will remain so\
A nice look at how Tossaint Ricketts is using his time off to continue his higher education, prepping for life after soccer
MLS is rolling out a big promo tied around its inaugural season. Get in the mood by reading this oral history-esque piece from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Noah Davis