A season like no other: Agent Carlo Goncalves explains how the Qatar World Cup will affect transfer windows
For the first time in its history, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place in the winter rather than the summer, due to its host nation Qatar being too hot during the summer months.
16 years ago today, Philipp Lahm let it fly six minutes into the opening of the 2006 World Cup 🚀
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 9, 2022
It has changed plans dramatically. The Premier League season will start a week earlier, on August 6th, but will take a 6-week break for the tournament, with the final game taking place on 13th November, and resuming again on Boxing Day.
The English top-flight will then end a week later than 21/22, with the final game on May 28th, and the Champions League final due to take place on Saturday 10th June.
An elongated season, with extra games and the potential for burnout towards the end of the campaign, could well change the dynamic of the transfer windows, both summer and winter. 101 sat down with football agent Carlo Goncalves to find out how it could differ, and just how the World Cup could play a role.
All change, or business as usual?
Despite the tournament taking place midway through the season, Goncalves does not, for the most part, expect a drastic change in the way that clubs approach the transfer window.
‘It will always affect it, because it’s the first time ever that the world cup will be played in the winter’, Goncalves claimed.
‘But I don’t think it will change too much, to be honest, I think the clubs will do the same thing and keep doing most of the transfers in the summer window and then some adjustments in January.’
‘Of course, we don’t know how the players will be after the World Cup – whether there are injuries or anything that will force clubs to return to the transfer market. But if not, I think the transfers will be more or less the same.’
Those of a Manchester United or England persuasion will of course be aware of just how damaging a summer move can have on a player’s international hopes- Jadon Sancho made the switch to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund, where he was excelling.
However, poor form at Manchester United saw him dropped from the England set-up, and even a spark of form in the months since has not seen him enter Gareth Southgate’s consideration. As it stands, he seems likely to miss out on the World Cup squad in November too.
And, while that may serve as an example to some, Goncalves feels as though that will be a minority, rather than the rule.
‘Most of the national coaches have already drawn up their squads in their mind, and I don’t think a player not performing for one or two months will make the difference over their selection’, he suggested.
‘I don’t think that they will think about the impact of the transfer immediately’, he added. ‘I think that if they have the chance to go to a better club, to have minutes and to play with a better salary, I think that they will do it without thinking too much about the World Cup’.
January to be as normal?
Asked about potential movers in January beyond clubs looking for potential injury cover, Goncalves was quick to claim that he had not planned, nor was he anticipating, a particularly busy winter window despite the elongated season.
‘I’m not expecting a big transfer Window in January, I’m expecting all this to happen during the summer as normal’.
‘With some cases it will [busier] be but most of the clubs know exactly which players they are scouting and which players they want’, he revealed.
This, he added, was in part due to the lack of credible alternative destinations for players, with other leagues that traditionally finance the winter window now severely limited.
‘The January market has lost impetus’, Goncalves explained. ‘The Chinese League, which was an important market for January, has stopped. The MLS is not doing as many transfers, even Russia is now out of the market for a period. So I think movement will increase but not too much’.
What about hidden gems?
Often, a World Cup has thrown up players immediately destined for great things and big moves in the aftermath. 2010 saw Mesut Ozil burst onto the scene, and 2014 will long be remembered as the tournament that James Rodriguez shot to stardom.
On this day in 2014, James Rodríguez produced this stunning volley. 🔥pic.twitter.com/CIq792qG3b
— 90min (@90min_Football) June 28, 2020
More recent tournaments have seen the likes of Denzel Dumfries and Manuel Locatelli both get moves following impressive showings at Euro2020. It is becoming increasingly hard to do that, however, with modern scouting as thorough as it is.
And, Goncalves gave the impression that seeing more examples of this will be unlikely.
‘It might happen with one or two players, but to be honest I think all the clubs know exactly which players they are following, which players they want, which players adapt to their squad and I think it’s a question of anticipating’, he told 101.
‘Of course, if you have doubts over a player and he performs well at the World Cup, you might want to do the deal immediately, but there is no player that will be at the World Cup that clubs don’t know about so they are already preparing the value of the players’, he added.
So, despite all the changes in format for the season, it seems that the transfer market may remains the same.