surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

A 'no deal' scenario

Paul Pogba will be staying in Manchester.
Paul Pogba will be staying in Manchester. / EFE
  • After a summer of speculation, none of the much-awaited mega-transfers ever materialised

So, after a summer of newspaper headlines, none of the hyped-up superstars got the multi-million-euro moves they so desired!

My prediction was spot on; the names of Neymar, Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale and Christian Eriksen would not be ironed onto the back of shirts at new clubs despite the best efforts of their agents, brothers, managers and who knows who else in their entourage.

The Spanish transfer window closed very gently without any 'transfer bombs' as Zinedine Zidane described them.

La Liga's merry-go-round stopped on 2 September, almost a month after the Premier League market closed. It led to complaints from many managers of English clubs. Jürgen Klopp moaned: "Can somebody explain what is the benefit for the Premier League?"

Well, on reflection, Jürgen, it means that English managers are a month ahead in player preparation, when their Spanish counterparts were still juggling with egos and agents.

Half of the Barcelona team were preparing to move to the suburbs of Paris if they were sacrificed for Neymar's return. It could only be unsettling for those concerned.

In August it looked like the unwanted Gareth Bale would be taking classes in Mandarin; a month later he is Real Madrid's best player. Maybe he'll finally master Spanish?

Now the window is closed, Zidane knows just what he has to work with, he may not like it but at least the mass speculation has stopped.

Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham were both concerned that the major Spanish clubs would have an advantage with the extra time to recruit players. In truth, they were well wide of the mark as almost all of the business was concluded early in the summer.

Barcelona had the deals for Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong tied up by the second week of July. Real Madrid handed the cheque for 100 million euros to sign Eden Hazard on 7 June, four days after Atlético made João Félix the third most expensive footballer of all time.

In the modern game, a Director of Football is working on player recruitment at least 12 months in advance. We all knew the destinations of Hazard, Griezmann, De Jong and, to a lesser extent, João Félix many months ago.

If you were part of the inner circle you'd know who the clubs were likely to sign the next summer. Look at Liverpool with Naby Keita and Virgil Van Dijk; they prioritised a player and were very happy to wait to conclude the transfer.

So it appears that La Liga needs to come into line with the Premier League and close the window early. The major moves on the final day were Jesé moving to Sporting Lisbon and Alphonse Areola agreeing to be Real Madrid's back-up goalkeeper. Even Jim White would struggle to get excited about those two!

Unfortunately, there is still a 'mañana' attitude to striking TV deals. Liga fans back in the UK are still waiting to see if the games are to be shown on television. An interim deal was done to broadcast the first three rounds on ITV but there is nothing currently in place beyond the international break.

I have no inside track but imagine that the British negotiators want to know what days the games will actually be played on, and an assurance that the Clásicos won't kick off on a Saturday afternoon when they can't be shown live because of a historic UK law.

The ITV agreement was a kind of backstop, the danger is that there will be a 'no deal' scenario and we all know how frustrating those phrases have become...