Does this transfer window feel madder to anyone else? Have I just imagined it?
I know transfer windows have brought out the madness for as long as they’ve existed but for reasons understandable and not, this one feels the most febrile.
I can’t ever recall quite this level of panic and despair from fans and media alike about Getting Business Done Early. The benefits of doing so are obvious, but this need for all business to be done by July 1 feels new.
And even by transfer window standards, the speed and size of the mood swings feels particularly unhinged this summer. And this isn’t just among fans, who have always – and in many ways rightly – been prone to the madness. Pundits have also lost their minds.
Arsenal have gone from the depths of despair at missing out on Champions League football to being touted for a title challenge after a couple of signings that don’t exactly feel revolutionary. There are already people out there describing Gabriel Jesus – a very good player for sure – as the 20-goal striker they’ve been looking for. Maybe he is, but the fact is that he has never yet scored more than 14 in a Premier League season having spent five-plus of them at a team that scores a staggeringly huge number of goals.
Across north London we have Spurs who, already giddy on their pilfering of the final Champions League spot, promptly won the transfer window before May was even done by signing Ivan Perisic. Again, there came talk of a title challenge on the back of an admittedly very good and uncharacteristically early transfer foray, since backed up by the arrival of Yves Bissouma. It’s good business but City and Liverpool aren’t likely to be too worried about the footballquake in north London, surely.
Those two have themselves also done big bits early with Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez arriving. Haaland to City is a genuinely massive thing, and a huge coup for the Premier League and its Bestest League Ever status. For all that the Premier League has been so good for so long, it still marks a relatively rare instance of a bona fide superstar moving to England at the peak of their powers. Waning superstars have moved to England. Players have become superstars in England. Rarely have they done what Haaland has done and split the difference. Nunez feels like more of a punt, but Liverpool’s record in this department is good enough that they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Then you’ve got Manchester United and Chelsea, who haven’t signed any new first-team players yet despite it being only days from the unofficial closing of the Early Business transfer window. This might explain a lot of the madness, especially because Manchester United were conspicuously crap last season and have perhaps the most business to attend to and remain perilously close to cracked badge territory.
But little of the coverage around United makes much sense despite the club’s multiple valid failings. For one thing, much of it is framed by what United need to do to in order to once again be competitive with Liverpool and Manchester City, and as the answer to that involves the discovery or invention of some kind of time machine, it feels like it might not be the most useful framing.
The fretting over Chelsea’s lack of business thus far seems madder still given that until relatively recently it wasn’t even certain they would still be a Premier League club that exists. There does appear to be a certain chaotic energy to proceedings at Stamford Bridge, and the new owner immediately installing himself as both chairman and interim sporting director does raise the prospect of some high-calibre nonsense that will surely be worth watching. But whatever the unorthodoxy of their new structure and its potential for disaster, it is very new and thus not that surprising that no players have shuffled through the Stamford Bridge entrance door just yet.
And then there are apparently 14 other Premier League clubs, but they don’t really matter that much.
But the general noise and coverage both frenetic and splenetic seems just far too loud for where we actually are in the window. It already feels like we’re well into August and it’s not even July yet.
The conspicuous absence of the World Cup that should be filling much of the space now taken up by all the hot air is an obvious contributing factor here, while the fact it now lurks menacingly mid-season also serves to ramp up the transfer giddiness. Everyone knows this season is going to be a mad one that stretches squads to breaking point, meaning every bit of transfer business left undone will be more keenly felt.
This is also the first summer for three years where this sort of space has existed. Last year there was the Euros, which was in the wrong year because, well, we all know why. And that meant that much of the summer of 2020 was actually filled with actual football and the rest of it comprised discussions of Liverpool’s asterisk title win.
Maybe having a full, proper summer of transfer nonsense for the first time since 2019 has addled everyone’s brain. Maybe everyone’s just so excited to have it back they’ve got over-excited. Like Glastonbury.
But it all just feels a little mad. A little fevered. The demand for the instant salve of transfer activity is nothing new, but this summer the highs and lows of the rollercoaster already feel more pronounced than ever and there is a long, long way still to go.
Time for everyone to just calm down a bit. Do something else for a bit. Watch the cricket because there’s nothing crazy happening there.