What The Depressed Transfer Market Means For Harry Kane And Kylian Mbappé
With no club unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was natural to expect spending in this summer’s transfer window would be down on previous years.
There are 10 days to go until the window closes and, so far, the net spend of Premier League clubs is €550 million ($643m), according to TransferMarkt. That is €250 million less than last season and about €200 million less than each season before that.
Despite this, Premier League clubs, which play in the world’s richest competition, are again the biggest spenders among the ‘big five’ European leagues. Manchester City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Manchester City for €117 million, while Arsenal (€150m), Manchester United (€125m) and Chelsea (€115m) have all spent big on new recruits.
There could be more spending still to come. Harry Kane, the Tottenham Hotspur striker, is wanted by City. The player wants to move, but his club don’t want to sell him. Spanish giant Real Madrid, meanwhile, is continuing to chase Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappé. There is a suggestion the Frenchman would be open to a move. His club want to keep him to form a fearsome attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Neymar.
Struggling to sell in order to buy
While at the top end of the table clubs have been able to spend on new players, a major difficulty in this market has been selling unwanted players.
Manchester City, for example, would be willing to listen to offers for several of its squad, probably including Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez. PSG apparently has 10 players who are available for the right price. Even Spurs, on a different financial level to those clubs, is struggling to offload established players like Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier.
Bernardo Silva, for example, would be an asset for most clubs playing in the Champions League. But his wages and transfer fee (perhaps €60m or €70m) make him unattainable this season, even for the majority in that competition. Similarly, at least a handful of Premier League clubs might see value in the experienced Sissoko. But, again, his wages and the fee Spurs would demand mean he could well stay at his current club and face a season of few appearances.
Manchester City does not, really, need to sell in order to fund a move for Kane. But, with an eye to ensuring it is within the rules of Financial Fair Play, it really should be.
Real Madrid has so far only signed David Alaba on a free transfer. The club has raised €75 million from selling Raphael Varane and Martin Odegaard. Could that money be put towards a swoop for Mbappé?
Player swaps aren’t easy
A solution to the issue of struggling to offload players, which at the same time would reduce the amount spent on a fee, is including players as part of the deal. Rumors have suggested City was ready to offer Spurs players like Silva, Jesus and Aymeric Laporte, as well as cash, to sign Kane.
While this might sound like a sensible approach, swap deals are rare for a reason. First, those players, in this instance, have to be willing to move to a club which hopes to qualify for the Champions League, rather than stay at one that wants to win it. They would also almost certainly have to take a pay cut. And Spurs may rather have more cash and back itself to spend on other players.
Spurs and PSG might still be tempted to sell
According to Spanish media outlet AS, Madrid is preparing a move for Mbappé in the final days of the window. Having pulled off a major coup in signing Messi, and with eyes on a Champions League title, PSG will be loath to sell.
The alternative, however, is potentially losing the 22-year-old star for free, when his contract expires next summer. Mbappé has reportedly made it clear he will not sign an extension to stay in Paris. Other than for Financial Fair Play reasons, PSG does not need the money. The club will probably be happy to keep Mbappé for the season, even if it means losing him for nothing later. But, maybe, a generous offer from Madrid will tempt them.
City is also desperate to win the Champions League. After a disappointing start in the Premier League (a 1-0 defeat to a Spurs team without Harry Kane), coach Pep Guardiola may have stressed the need to sign Kane to his bosses. It would take a mega bid for Spurs to consider selling, but City may decide it is worth the cost now and that the money can be made back selling players when the market recovers. The timing is key – leave it too late in the window and Spurs will have no time to find replacements, forcing it to reject any offer.
There is still a chance both players could move before the end of August. Of the two, Kane seems the more likely. But, in a depressed transfer market, there seems at least as big a chance both will have to wait for their moves.