Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

3 Comments

Before we get to the business at hand — discussing which three Premier League clubs must spend money in a wild and irresponsible manner during tomorrow’s transfer deadline day proceedings — let’s take a moment to discuss how ludicrous it is that “Christmas Eve shopping” is still a modern-day practice.

[ MORE: All of the latest transfer news ]

In terms of running a football club, we’re talking about billions of dollars at play. Not hoping you’ll get lucky and snag the last Turbo Man action figure to give to your kid the next morning. Billions — with a B — of dollars. If I’m the chairman of a club — say, Everton — and another club — say, Chelsea — wants to buy one of my most-prized possessions — say, a center back named John Stones — there’s no way I’m giving the buying club any sort of cut-rate price just because the transfer window is winding down.

Not only do you have little or no time to reinvest that incoming cash, but an entire preseason of preparation and planning is thrown out the window with four months still to pass before you can do a thing about it.

[ JPW’S PL Playback: It’s time to change the rules of the transfer window ]

With that being said, the cash will be flowing once again tomorrow. Here’s a fair guess at who could be writing most of the checks:

3. Sunderland

Disclaimer: It was quite difficult to pick a third team that needs to make waves on transfer deadline day, so I ended up with Sunderland. You might look at their transfer activity this summer and think, “They’ve already net spent $24 million,” which yes, is true. But let’s examine the manner in which they did so.

Fabio Borini for $15 million — risky; Jeremain Lens for $12 million — completely unproven in a major European league; Younes Kaboul for $4.5 million — he’ll be out for three months soon enough; Sebastian Coates for $3 million — never played more than 10 games in a Premier League season; Adam Matthews for $3 million — this ain’t the Scottish Premiership.

What I’m saying is, Sunderland finished last season in 16th place, just three points clear of relegation — and that only happened after another “great escape” in the season’s final weeks. There’s still work to be done for Dick Advocaat’s side, which currently sits bottom of the league with 10 goals conceded through four games, or they’ll be praying for yet another miracle.

[ DONE DEALS: Recapping Man United (and others’) very busy Monday ]

2. Aston Villa

In short, I don’t believe Tim Sherwood has been given enough free reign to spend like the second coming of Harry Redknapp that we all know he is. I need from him a net spend greater than $9 million in his first transfer window as a permanent first-team manager. But more importantly, he needs players capable of keeping the Villans in the Premier League.

Let’s have a look at the backline Sherwood trotted out in their most recent league game, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland: Jordan Amavi (21 years old), Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards and Alan Hutton. That’s a defensive unit capable of resigning even the league’s most prolific of attacks — which they don’t have — to a bottom-third finish, as evidenced in that very game.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday’s officially confirmed transfers ]

1. Arsenal

Let’s count all the areas in which Arsene Wenger should have been strengthening his squad in the 99 days since last season ended: 1) defensive midfield — are we to assume Francis Coquelin can play 38 games without incident? 2) another central midfielder — Jack Wilshere has already missed the season’s first four games; 3) center forward — Olivier Giroud and…who?

If the goal is, as the Gunners said again and again all summer long, to challenge for the title, they don’t just need players to fill those positions. They need genuinely world-class players to do so — the kind of players you don’t acquire in a last-minute deal at a cut-rate price, both of which being characteristics on which Wenger seems intent. Outside of Petr Cech, not a single signing will play a meaningful part in Arsenal’s 2015-16 season.

Not a single one of Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic — all players “linked” to the Gunners this summer — are walking through that door on Tuesday.

Atletico Madrid temporarily cuts player salaries by 70 percent

Photo by Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Atletico Madrid says it has reached an agreement with its players and coaching staff to reduce their salaries by 70 percent while competitions are stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus ]

Atletico announced the agreement on Thursday and said it is temporarily suspending the jobs of club employees.

Atletico had previously said it would need to take such a drastic step but had yet to reveal the details.

A job suspension under Spanish law allows a company to greatly reduce its labor costs by having workers stay at home while guaranteeing they will go back to their positions when conditions improve.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Spanish club added that some of the money saved by the players’ salary cuts will be given to its other employees who will be furloughed.

Barcelona recently announced it had come to a similar agreement with its players.

Both clubs said that such cost-saving measures were necessary to ensure their financial stability due to the loss in revenue during the stoppage of competitions.

CONCACAF postpones Nations League finals, Gold Cup qualification

Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CONCACAF announced on Friday that the 2019-20 Nations League finals and the opening rounds of 2021 Gold Cup qualification have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Nations League finals — featuring the U.S. men’s national team, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras — were previously scheduled to take place in Houston and Dallas in early June. CONCACAF says the semifinals and final will be rescheduled for a later date.

The seconds round of Gold Cup qualifying was previously scheduled to be made up in June — following their postponement in March, with four two-leg ties featuring largely Caribbean and Central American nations. Those, too, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Given the ongoing public health situation, and following consultation with FIFA regarding the international football calendar, we have made the decision to suspend the CONCACAF Nations League finals, which was scheduled for June 4-7, 2020 in the Houston and Dallas areas.

The event, which includes the Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and USA men’s national teams, will be rescheduled to take place at a later date in venues to be determined. This will be confirmed following further discussions with FIFA regarding the remaining international windows in the football calendar, and will obviously be subject to public health authorities deeming it safe for professional sports events to resume.

FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus

Photo by Stuart Franklin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA — FIFA has extended the age limit for the men’s soccer tournament at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The amended Olympic rule on Friday retains the “players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997” standard for the Tokyo Games following a one-year postponement agreed last week by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese authorities.

It means players eligible for the intended under-23 tournament in 2020 can still play in Japan at age 24 next year. Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo.

FIFA also postponed two women’s age-group World Cups due this year in Central America and India, and confirmed no international games for men and women will be played in the early June dates protected for national team call-ups.

Soccer’s world body said “health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times.”

The Olympic decision was made by a FIFA panel of soccer officials worldwide, created to address the soccer shutdown during the health crisis.

The 16 men’s teams at the Tokyo Olympics next year can also select three over-age players in their rosters. A stellar lineup includes Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.

Two women’s World Cup tournaments — the Under-20s hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the Under-17s in India in November — are postponed. No new dates were announced.

[ MORE: Report: Serie A could resume training May 2, games late in month ]

Until the COVID-19 outbreak, national team games scheduled in June included the 2020 European Championship, World Cup qualifying games in South America and Asia, and qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

After Euro 2020 was postponed for one year, UEFA hoped to schedule playoff games in June to confirm the last four places in a 24-nation lineup. Those playoffs were postponed indefinitely this week.

World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now face uncertain scheduling in a congested calendar in Europe, South America and Asia.

FIFA said on Friday it would “organize bilateral discussions” with continental governing bodies “to finalize a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments.”

FIFA plans to direct hundreds of millions of dollars from its cash reserves to support a global emergency fund, and has agreed to appoint one official from each of the six soccer continents to coordinate the work.

Arsenal want season completed ‘to maintain integrity’ of PL

Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal remain in support of finishing the 2019-20 season in order to “to maintain the integrity” of the competition, despite Friday’s unanimous vote that the Premier League cannot resume at the start of May as previously hoped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Gunners, who currently sit ninth in the PL table with 10 games left to play (one more than the majority of clubs around them), were five points back of fifth-place Manchester United for qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League thanks to Manchester City’s two-year European ban.

In a statement released on Friday, Arsenal reiterated their stance that the current season should be played to completion rather than called to completion at things stand or abandoned altogether.

We are in full support of the objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches from the 2019-20 season to be played, in order to maintain the integrity of each competition.

We also fully agree with the principle that any return to action will only be with the full backing of government and when medical guidance allows.

The restart date is under constant review as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we continue to work together with all stakeholders through this very challenging time