What do all these players have in common? They've all been the subject of painfully long transfer sagas this summer. And after all this nonsense, at the time of writing, only one of them looks like he is actually going to move clubs: According to the BBC Sport columnists David Ornstein and Ben Smith, Tottenham and Gareth Bale are in an advanced stage of negotiation for a world record transfer with Real Madrid.
The other summer saga players have spent the entire summer on the back pages of newspapers to absolutely no avail. In the meantime, the players have been unsettled by constant scrutiny, their relationships with their clubs have suffered and prices have been driven up by an artificially created marketplace.
At the start of the summer, it was quite clear Gareth Bale was keen to become Cristiano Ronaldo Mk. II at the Bernabeu. Two months later, after eschewing Tottenham's summer tours, a Wales international and the opening game of the Premier League through "injury," the left winger still hasn't put any ink on the contract. He's even had to resort to dressing exactly like Ronaldo to make his point clear.
Whom has this situation benefited? Perhaps Daniel Levy will be able to squeeze a few extra pounds from his Welsh cash cow after such protracted negotiations, but are Spurs better off for having such disruption to the start of their season? Are Real Madrid stronger for having to wait for their star addition until the second league game of the season?
The current transfer window system is broken, but I have a solution.
Make it one week long.
That's right, seven days of furious trading, documented to within an inch of its life by Sky Sports countdown clocks, live blogs and the print journalists who currently make half-truths a summer sport.
Not only would it be incredibly exciting, but there would be no dithering from clubs waiting for other clubs to buy or sell before they make a move. There would be no fuss, no unsettling of high-profile players and no distractions from the task at hand: winning games.
There would be no clubs promising a huge amount of spending around season-ticket renewal time and then failing to get the chequebook out (yes Arsenal, that means you).
There would be much less focus on the drama around the game and much more on the drama during it.
But best of all, there would be none of these wearisome summer transfer sagas to endure every single day for two months.
There used to be a time when we all had a break from football. When cricket and other sports dominated the back pages in the warmer months. It used to make the return of football even more exciting. With a one-week window staged three to four weeks before the season kicks off, just imagine the frenzy.
This writer isn't the only one calling for change. This week, Everton manager Roberto Martinez commented on Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines by telling Sky Sports that "the transfer window is getting out of hand and really affecting the values of the league. I think it is affecting the human side of the players in a very, very unfair manner."
Two seasons ago, Dietmar Hamman called for the window to be shortened to a week or 10 days in order to reduce the strain on players and managers.
And in 2010, Arsene Wenger expressed his desire for the window to be shortened (presumably so other clubs have less time to buy his players).
Not only is two months far too long, but he fact that the current window does not close before most sides has played three of four games is troubling.
Once again, who benefits from that arrangement? Is Gareth Bale better off for starting the season as a Tottenham player and then switching leagues a few weeks later?
In the past few days, a plethora of Premier League managers—including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Alan Pardew and Michael Laudrup—have said they believe the window should close earlier. I'm quite sure that none of them would object to a shorter window, too.
In Mexico's Liga MX, the summer window effectively lasts just 24 hours. On a heady day nicknamed "Mercado de piernas" ("The leg market"), all the players who are for sale are put in the proverbial shop window, and there's a hectic clamber among the teams to buy and trade.
A one-day window is too short for the Premier League, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Excuse the rant, but in the circus of European transfer lunacy, a brave lion tamer must come in and introduce a seven-day window. Otherwise, the whole big top is going to collapse on itself.
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