'Silly season' arrives as transfer window opens
By Steve Douglas ,APLONDON -- Expect plenty of speculation about Cristiano Ronaldo, David Villa, Wesley Sneijder, Frank Lampard and Theo Walcott, among others, to be doing the rounds for the next month.
January 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Yes, the “silly season” has arrived.
European soccer's January transfer window opens for business on Tuesday, giving clubs a monthlong opportunity to strengthen their squads for the second half of the season.
Top teams operating strategic transfer plans, such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, rarely do major deals in this period. Likely targets are usually cup-tied for the Champions League and managers can be put off by inflated prices and a preference to bed new players in over an offseason.
However, an inspired January signing — whether loan or permanent — could make the difference between winning the title, getting into Europe or surviving relegation, meaning plenty of deals will go through over the next 31 days.
The cash-rich English Premier League is usually the place where the big acquisitions are made, especially on deadline day. And considering the lucrative television deals lying in wait from next season as well as the impoverished state of many leagues across the continent following Europe's financial crisis, this should be the case this season, too.
“Many of the traditional European leagues are facing economic problems so we would suggest the trend of overseas players coming to the Premier League to ply their trade will continue and outweigh transfers between English clubs,” James Skelland, a player representative for James Grant Sport Management, told The Associated Press.
“We would anticipate that there will be more loan moves,” Skelland added, “which tend to suit all parties better, and some permanent moves made by clubs who are looking to stave off relegation or push for European places.”
English clubs memorably spent 225 million pounds (then US$362 million) in the January window in 2011, defying the recession. In the nine winter windows since 2004, nearly a billion pounds has been splashed out.