January transfer window: Time for a change?

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The January transfer window came to a close on Thursday night with something of a whimper. 

Christopher Samba was the biggest winner, managing to secure himself a reported £100k-a-week contract at the age of 31.

Despite the lack of big-name signings, the amount spent nearly doubled to £120m from the same period last year. Arsene Wenger has criticised the current window system as "unfair", so is it time for a review of the system first introduced back in 2003?

The window was introduced ten years ago to prevent the ‘bigger’ clubs having the advantage of being able to buy any number of players at any time during the season to overcome any blips caused by injury, suspension or form. 

The window system was supposed to put all clubs on a more equal footing by limiting the times at which players could be bought or sold.

The Arsenal manager claims however that signing players during the mid-season represents a bigger gamble due to dealing primarily with clubs in financial trouble, or unhappy players before offering his suggestions.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Wenger said: "I think it should be all completely cut out or limited to two players because it is unfair for the league. 

"Some teams who have played Newcastle twice already have an advantage on teams who play against Newcastle now when they have bought six or seven players. They do not face the same team.

"I believe the number of players you can buy should be limited."

Whilst it's clear to see where Wenger is coming from, surely just limiting the number of transfers a team can make is neither here nor there - the bigger teams will still have the money to make the better acquisitions to improve their fortunes.

Using Wenger’s example of Newcastle, they have struggled this season after a good campaign last time out, finding themselves in the relegation mix up come the turn of the year, and have the resources to invest in five first-team players to boost their survival chances.

Back-to-back wins against Aston Villa and Chelsea show that their January additions have certainly strengthened their cause.

Meanwhile at the foot of the table, QPR have strengthened to the tune of six new signings, including some big-money moves, to boost their push for safety, whilst Aston Villa, Southampton and Wigan managed to bring in one player each.

Wouldn’t it be more of a level playing field to limit transfers to the summer window? This allows clubs two months to make their purchases for the upcoming season before submitting their 25-man squads to the Premier League.

Every club would face the whole season with their nominated squad without the ability to make any further additions throughout the season.

Another upshot of such a system would be increased exposure for younger, home-grown talents. The 25-man squad rules dictate that eight home-grown players must be named in the squad and any number of players under the age of 21 can be used without needing to be named in the 25.

It’s a far from perfect system but such a system simply doesn’t exist - the bigger teams will always be better placed to invest in their squad, but the playing field can be levelled to ensure that all clubs face the season on the same terms with the same personnel.

Surely after ten years of imbalance, another alternative is worth a try?


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