The Great Summer Raids


As spring turns into summer, the world of competitive football enters its final stretch of games with teams seeking to finish strong. For the players, summer usually means rest and vacation as they try to recover from the long season and prepare for the upcoming campaign. However, for teams and fans, the end of the season marks the beginning of another type of game, this is one can be as ruthless and more expensive as the real game, this one is known as the “Summer Transfer Window”. Just like the Vikings, Goths or Colonists of the path, the summer transfer window is time to raid, plunge and loot for players and just like in real life it is often the bigger team that is raiding the smaller team. In this sort of football mixed with finance jungle, the footballer is the treasure, the agent of the footballer is the guardian of the treasure and the teams are the raiders. Many teams wait rely on the summer raids to reload and compete for trophies instead of following a more organic process of rebuilding a team through the development of young talent and team building.

History has shown how effective these summer raids can be in completely changing the trajectory of teams who are successful in beating out other teams in raiding the players they need. Personally, I still recall the summer of the 2004, when Chelsea with its new found Russian Petro Dollars poached players from all around England and Portugal along with it F.C. Porto’s Manager Jose Mourinho and his bus. The summer of 2009 is another striking example of a successful summer raid as Real Madrid managed to sign three blockbuster names in Benzema, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. The summer of 2017 is setting up to be a summer transfer which can have great summer raids because of two key reasons which are that: First of all there is an abundance of strong youth talent in smaller clubs who have done very well and received strong attention; The second reason is that a number of big clubs are motivated to buy players and have the financial muscle to convince agents, players and smaller teams to sell them the players. In the next part of this blog, I will discuss three clubs in Europe who could be raided for their players and fall prey to the idea that big clubs will always get the top players because they offer the best wages.

The first club that is expected to be raided this summer is one that historically been a team which has developed some of the greatest French players but has consistently lost them because of poor finances and a very limited fan base. As you can probably guess by now this club is A.S Monaco from France. With a very successful season A.S. Monaco has shown that talent development is still an effective way to win games. However, unlike a team like Leicester from last year, majority of Monaco players are young and with that comes the mouth-watering word “potential” which every agent loves to hear. Led by the boy-genius striker Kylian Mbappe, dynamic left back Mendy and silky maestro Bernardo Silva, Monaco have talented young players in almost every position.

It will be extremely hard for Monaco to retain all its players and thus it has be strategic in how it engages in summer transfers this summer as many clubs are linked to buy many of its players. An effective strategy can be to sell one or two players at high prices and use the extra cash to offer wage bumps for its other talented players. Either way, Monaco needs to prepare for the pending raid that is coming its way once the summer transfer window begins.

Moving on, another club that needs to fortify its defenses and prepare for a summer raid is AFC Ajax from Netherlands. Ajax is another club which has been a powerhouse in developing world class players but has become a feeder team to other teams across Europe. The current season of Ajax has them close to winning Eredivisie and in the Europa league finals which shows that they capable footballers in their ranks. History is proof of the talent Ajax has produced with the legendary players such as Cruyff, Bergkamp, Kluivert ,and Luis Suarez. Keeping this legendary pipeline of talent in mind, the current Ajax team has some big-game players who will be tough for the club to hold onto once the summer transfer window starts. Players such as Danish Kasper Dolberg, Justin Kluivert and Bertrand Traore are the brightest of the bunch on this Ajax team and these three along with others will garner the phone calls of many footballing directors and agents across Europe. Ajax has become a selling club and has lost its shine as a European giant but perhaps retaining its current group of starlets is the beginning of its return to greatness.

The last club which could be an ideal destination for a raid is a less traditional one in the sense that it is considered to be a strong team in Europe which does not always sell its players. This team is Atletico Madrid from Spain. Atletico Madrid is a team that this summer could enter into a rebuild phase as it is expected that manager Diego Simeone, the man behind the club’s recent resurgence is on his way out. The team with its current group of players has in many ways reached a level of stagnancy with its four-consecutive loss to its rival Real Madrid in the Champions League. Many of these players on the team are Simeone’s players as they were bought by him and for his system of football and thus with him leaving potentially, the club could follow suit and set up for sale. The strong links of Antoine Griezmann to Manchester United show that the raiders have their eyes set on the talents of Atletico Madrid. One interesting thing that could happen is that Simeone could take many of his players such as Carrasco, Koke and Saul Niguez with him to whichever team he decides to manage next. However, it turns out, a raid could take place at the Vicente Calderon this summer and by the looks of it there won’t be a fiery manager to defend.

There are other clubs such as Leicester City, RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund who could be targets for raids as well but by the looks of it Monaco, Ajax and Atletico Madrid will be initial targets. All in all, the summer transfer window is fast approaching and I hope this one will be more action than rumors. To all those participating, “Happy Raiding!!!

Somran Roy(@s_royal12 , sroy011@uottawa.ca)

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